75 years in Ormskirk

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From the first issue of Campus Link, the news letter aimed at keeping local residents up to date with what’s going on at Edge Hill:

Edge Hill University is preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of its Ormskirk campus next month.

The University, then a teacher training college for women, first came to Ormskirk on 2nd October 1933 after relocating its main campus from Durning Road in Liverpool.

The H-shaped main building, which is still the centrepiece of the campus today, was unveiled by Lord Irwin in a tree-planting ceremony, who then unlocked the door of the main entrance and declared the college open.

The building housed 176 students, 13 staff, a matron, a secretary and two cooks in four residential halls – Clough, Stanley, John Dalton and Lady Margaret – all named after members of the Derby family.

An article published in the Ormskirk Advertiser just prior to the opening of the campus says: "Ormskirk has now become an important centre for Higher Education. A stretch of the green fields between St Helens Road and Ruff Lane was chosen as the site of the college, and here during the last two years the buildings have been slowly rising until today they stand as one of the finest and most modern of their type."

The ladies attending the new 1930s college had very different experiences to Edge Hill students today. Their days started at 6:15am with ‘lights out’ by 10pm and any spare time was spent on morning prayers and cooking classes.

Edith Greenwood, 84, who studied in at the college during its first year in Ormskirk, says: "I must have been one of the first to use the new building in Ormskirk. It was a tremendously exciting time – everything was so new and modern. It was obviously built well if it’s still being used by students today.

"It was a big change for the girls who had come from Liverpool. They were used to all the noise of a busy city and then they found themselves in what felt like the countryside!"

Tribute to Miss Jenkins

Miss Jenkins c. 1933The archives have dozens of copies of the Edge Hill College News Letter but this post is drawn from a copy of No. 65 from 1956 passed to me by my colleague Jenny Jordan.

The issue is a tribute to Miss J. A. Jenkins who joined the staff fifty years earlier, on – according to Fiona Montgomery’s book – a salary of £100.

Nine pages of the newsletter are dedicated to Miss Jenkins but I’ll just print this one from former Principal E.M. Butterworth.

Although I still enjoy the valued friendship of Miss Jenkins, it was during our last years at Durning Road, Liverpool, that I knew her as a colleague. If, in a short space, I am to write of her in this relationship, what stands out in my mind most clearly is her sympathetic awareness of people, of conditions, of circumstances; and because of this awareness her ability to help. Miss Jenkins as a colleague was alert. She knew what she wanted to achieve, she knew what her colleagues hoped to achieve, and she could always be counted on to help. She had a personal knowledge of the schools, their conditions, their respective difficulties. As Tutor in Education she knew what she was asking a colleague to undertake, the condition of the work, and the effort spent in travelling to do it. Her arrangements in consultation with the Principal, could therefore be accepted without dissension—a great asset in matters as involved as School Practice. What I, personally, valued very much, and I think that I speak for many other colleagues in this, was the practical help that Miss Jenkins gave us in our particular branches of the training. Whether it was in methods of teaching Geography, as in my case, or History, Nature Study, or anything else, Miss Jenkins was quick to perceive what each of us was hoping to do. She knew how short the hours possible for demonstration and group work were and how precious the even shorter time for discussion after-wards. Her practical help, therefore, in coming to these demonstration afternoons was invaluable. When precious time was ebbing away in some real, but minor, point of criticism, raised by a student, and tenaciously followed up by others in the way that students have, Miss Jenkins came to the rescue, perhaps with a touch of humour, perhaps by a question herself: “What did you have in mind when you did this rather than that?” or a comment: “I was most interested by the way the children reacted to this, or that! Did you expect that?” Side issues were thus dropped; real values were perceived and an atmosphere was produced in which useful discussion could follow. In times of School Practices, too, it was a relief to talk over the difficult cases with Miss Jenkins, and the easy ones, too, for when there is so much that is immature and seemingly hopeless during the early struggles of the average teacher, a Tutor was apt to be carried away too enthusiastically by the apparent brilliance of what she might think was “a born teacher.” In talking things over with Miss Jenkins a more balanced view was achieved. The value to her colleagues was that Miss Jenkins could always find time to do this evaluation, and therefore was often called upon to find it. Indeed we used to say that she lived with her door open. Yet there must have been many hours of late work, for piles of Students’ Reports of lessons seemed to succeed each other in her sitting-room waiting for perusal. Not the least service Miss Jenkins did for her colleagues was the supervision of these reports in addition to the reading of them by individual tutors. Miss Jenkins thus put herself in a position to co-ordinate in her own Education lectures what was being done in different departments by the Lecturers and to draw examples from experiences the students themselves had had. This gave a colleague confidence that her work fitted well into place in the educational plan.

Miss Jenkins was great fun as a fellow-traveller. I enjoyed many holidays abroad with her. Whether in the mountains of France or Austria, in Bruges or Dinant, in Paris, Geneva, Grasse, Arles, Nimes or Avignon, in all our many journeyings we never missed a bus, boat, coach or train! Invariably when I was ready for breakfast I found that Miss Jenkins had finished her correspondence, probably having written six or more postcards, and while I made up my belated file, she would be buried in the local time-tables, planning an itinerary by the little vehicles which brought us into such delightful contact with the daily life of peoples. And there was always “delight in simple things.” Whether it was the roosting peacocks at Avignon, the colourful market stalls of Grasse, or the “plus fours” of little Belgian “Willee” were there was fun and laughter; and memories were stored, to be recalled during strenuous terms that followed, and still to be recalled in letters since retirement, and at times when we meet now. A bientot, Miss Jenkins!

E. M. Butterworth.