Part I: The Letters

Recently in the archive, we undertook one of our stocktakes, which is the process of going through each individual item we have and making a note of any repackaging, digitisation, cataloguing needed etc. The stocktake is also a great way of finding some of the exciting (and sometimes mysterious) treasures we have in the archive – some even we didn’t know we had! 

One of these treasures is a bundle of letters written in 1965 to a Mr. Eason. After some time scanning over the letters, it was clear these were written by past Edge Hill students. Over 100 years in the past, to be exact, as these were students from the early 1900s!

The first page of a letter written in blue ink on green paper. It says the following:
TEL.HUDY 204. 

April 23rd 1965. Dear Mr Eason, It was on the 19th of Jan that I received Mrs Eason’s letter in answer to mine. I am sorry to be so long in sending you the things I promised. 

The article on “College in Wartime 1915-19” has given me great happiness in remembering, but I’m afraid I have been slow in getting it well & truly finished. However, now that it is done, I hope there will be some grains of information of use to use in your history. If the Editor of the News Letter wishes to use it, it is O.K, but I shall not be hurt if it is not considered good enough. 

I am enclosing with this the Reports & Accounts of the College 1916-17.
The first page of M. Edna walker’s letter

The letters varied in length, with some of them bullet pointing their experience over a page or two and others reaching over 10 pages of anecdotes, misadventures, and memories. Below are some notable letter excerpts:

“Consternation when a governess ‘Dolly’ found that when she gave “extension” on Saturday night for students to go to the “Pictures” they had meant the Cinema not the Art Gallery.”

—Anonymous (student 1913-15)

“I was on the corridor officially known as (I think) ‘Lower’ corridor, but known to students as ‘Hades’, because of the temperature caused in the close proximity to the laundry.”

—Ruth Cannon (student 1932-34)

The first page of a letter written in blue ink. It says the following:

10 Beresford Street

Dear Mr. Eason, From the Magazine, I see that you are asking for “souvenirs” from former Students. So I am sending the badge from the pocket of my Blazer, the badge from my hat, & the silver “lilly brooch”, that some of us bought when we had completed 25 yrs. “on duty”. I have not been able to find my hat-band. The “group” is of my Junior year – I begged it from my “Daughter”, as our year does not seem to have one. (War broke out on the very week I reported for duty at my first school.) Greetings to Mr. Millins, - he was here with us at Warrington, - & also to Mr. Gresty from his friends at Abergele. Will you please be
The first page of Isabel Williams’ letter

“Common Room one of the few attractive rooms in College – upholstered chairs and settees – used for Saturday night dances – no men!”

                                                            —Anonymous (student 1913-15)

“The bed cover (white) was known as an Elephant. The striped army blanket a ‘Tiger’.”

                                                            —Anonymous (student 1913-15)

“War broke out the very week I reported for duty at my first school.”

—Isabel Williams (student 1912-1914)

“I was given extra-special permission to attend lectures by Dr. Pollitt [?] at Liverpool University one evening a week.”

—Kathleen Beswick (student 1923-25)

The first page of a letter written in blue ink. It says the following:
The Cottage, 
Bishops’ Cannings 
1909-11 Wilts. 
Feb. 17 1956

Dear Mr Eason, The enclosed fragments are relics saved from my College days (1909-11) – I do not think they will be of any interest, but the album contains a complete list of the students resident in those two years. We had a “family” arrangement with a helpful “mother” and “aunts” to see us through the rigid discipline of our first year, and in turn adopted a junior student in our second year. The routine was inflexible – we slept, ate, worked and took walks, attended lectures and
The first page of Mary Sheppard’s letter

And, my personal favourite excerpt:

“Another item which may be of interest happened at Christmas 1924. I was a College Prefect and I plucked up enough courage to ask Miss E. M. Smith, Principal, if we could invite men to our Christmas Dance and if we could wear coloured evening dresses. Hitherto, our evening dresses were all white, and we had had no men for partners. We just danced with each other. The result was a bus-load of students from Chester Training College for men, Came to our Dance. At least two of those men married two Edge Hill students.”

                                                            —Kathleen Beswick (student 1923-25)

Part II: Mr Eason

But one question kept returning: who is Mr. Eason? 

Most of the writers begin in similar ways, usually referring to their letters being in response to a Magazine article. We assumed the ‘magazine’ to be one of the Edge Hill College Magazines, and promptly found the 1965 edition. And, to our excitement, there was an article by T. W. Eason called ‘An Appeal to all Guild Members’. The first sentence in the article read ‘Members of the Guild will be interested to know that the College is proposing to establish a History of Edge Hill College unit.’ An early Edge Hill archive! 

A page from a college magazine. It says the following:
This edition of the NEWS LETTER brings with it the first letter from Mr. Millins as Principal. Although he has been Warden of the Guild for only five months he has quickly become an active and an interested member, as you will appreciate on reading letter. 
We hope that all old students will co-operate in the preparations for the exhibition which he is organising to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of the opening of our College; and that they will also note the date for the 1965 Reunion – Saturday, 19th June. It was very encouraging to see so many of the 1960-63 students at the last Reunion – the changed form of which seems to have been appreciated by most. We hope welcome even greater number of the 1961-64 students as Guild members, and recommend that they take note of the particulars concerning meetings of the branch of the Guild in their area. 
We are grateful to all our contributors, especially Miss Airey and Miss Wade; we feel sure that all of you will read with interest the account of College life in 1904. It is a co-incidence that this article should appear at the same time as Mr. Eason’s appeal for date in connection with the history of the College. 
It is unfortunate that Miss Cook, who for so many years has kept in touch with former members of the Staff now feels that she can no longer adequately make her contribution to the NEWS LETTER. We are most grateful to her for her keep interest over the years and hope that before the next issue, we shall find a successor to write “News of Former Staff.”
When you have finished reading this NEWS LETTER, will you please pass on the exciting information it contains to any former Edge Hill students with whom you may be in contact, in order that next year’s celebrations may be shared by as many as possible? 

An Appeal to all Guild Members 
MEMBERS of the Guild will be interested to know that the College is proposing a History of Edge Hill College unit. It is thought that you will both be interested by this, and certainly able to help in the establishing and developing of it. 
The task of the unit will be threefold. 
First it will aim to make permanent arrangements for the present and future keeping of records, materials, and objects likely to be of interest to future generations of students or others concerned with the college. We at Edge Hill have seen twenty years of rapid change since the war; governmental changes, the development of Uni-
‘An Appeal to all Guild Members’ by T. W. Eason
in the 1965 College Magazine – Page 1
The second page of the college magazine. It says:
versity institutes of education, and the rapid evolution of the school system have all presented training colleges with a succession of exciting, if sometimes baffling problems. This rate of change is if anything still increasing; and unless a definite effort is made these decades of revolution will be over and gone without any really personal and detailed records available to show what happened in detail, how the College evolved, and how it all seemed to the busy people who were shaping these changes at the time. 
Second, the unit will set about establishing a collection of objects, books, and manuscripts connected with Edge Hill College since its foundation in Liverpool in 1885. Particularly for the period before Lancashire L.E.A. took control, when Edge Hill was a voluntary college in the city, it is becoming urgent to collect materials and records and your reminiscences! There must be many members of the Guild of Old Students, and former members of the staff, who have documents that would be of interest: teaching aids of yore, lists of members of the staff, or of students; formal and informal photographs of College buildings, events, and activities; old text-books (or information as to what text-books were in use); old teaching-practice notebooks and files, or pupil-teacher records; perhaps even old essays or “special studies,” paintings, and the like. 
Older members particularly may recall oddities or interesting information about members of the staff or fellow students. All will be grist to the mill. Especially we should welcomes notes on students, or members of staff, who have gone on to distinguish themselves later – as heads of schools, inspectors, by developing interesting teaching methods – or even in less desirable ways, or in other professions? Interesting gossip!
The third task of the Unit will be to publish, as soon as it can be conveniently arranged, a history of the College. Recent discussions have brought home to us how fat, at this moment of rapid movement into the future, the College’s awareness of its not undistinguished past is limited to the personal memory span of present staff; to the period, that is, of the L.E.A. college and even particularly to the post-evacuation period. Privileged as we are to be at Edge Hill at a time of transformation and development, we feel that we, staff and students, need to draw inspiration and encouragement from our considerable history while setting forward the work of the College today as best we can. 
Will you help? Your support now is vital. Please look and see if you haven’t written papers, text-books, old prospectuses, photographs or snapshots, text-books, anything – you know how valuable items that are themselves trivial-seeming, become to an historian. Or if you will please write down anything interesting you recall about the College in your day (1902 or 1962), its life, activities, staff and students, meals, visitors, rituals…
‘An Appeal to all Guild Members’ by T. W. Eason
in the 1965 College Magazine – Page 2
The third page of a college magazine. It says:
anything! Send what you can to T. W. Eason, M.A., at the College. If you would like anything you send to be returned to you, it will be carefully copied or photographed and sent back to you; other things will all be acknowledged, and will make an invaluable beginning for a collection that will meet an urgent need, and will, we hope, be of great interest to you. 

Random Recollections of Edge Hill College Sixty Years Ago 
IN 1904, Edge Hill was “top college.” Students were admitted only if they had matriculated or had been placed in the higher divisions of the First Class of the King’s Scholarship Examination. Its rival college was Southlands, which accepted students from any division of the First Class. Other colleges accepted students who had Second of even Third Class passes. 
In looking back over sixty years, I feel that the worst of the old system was that in 1904 we were treated as irresponsible beings, and subjected to excessive rules and restrictions. From this training we were expected to emerge able to take up a post of the highest and most serious responsibility – that of teaching and training future citizens. 
Except for occasional classes we were free from mid-day dinner until tea at 5 p.m., but we were not allowed out, after that time, between Monday and Friday. On Saturday, we were free until six o’clock. Sunday was a special day and when we were admitted to college we were allowed to state which place of worship we intended to attend, and our choice was recorded. When we returned to college on Sunday evening we had “Roll Call,” when we answered “Once” or “Twice” according to our church attendances, understood to be at our chosen church or chapel, but not always so in fact. On a fine Sunday morning some of us, longing for a look at the country, would go by a tram-car to Wavertree. After a few minutes kneeling in the porch of a Roman Catholic chapel, and possibly being sprinkled with Holy Water, we took a semi-rural walk and then caught a tram back in time for dinner. At “Roll-Call” this escapade was included as a church attendance – not strictly motal – but I am still unrepentant. 
Edge Hill was the first Training College to adopt the, then, new Swedish system of Gymnastics and for this the Gymnasium was fully equipped. The tutor was Miss Stansfield, sister of the lady who introduced the system into England. At the time all teachers entering the L.C.C. schools were required to take a course in Gym. and get an L.C.C. certificate, but those who had an Edge Hill certificate were excused this. There was a small gallery with a separate entrance overlooking the
‘An Appeal to all Guild Members’ by T. W. Eason
in the 1965 College Magazine – Page 3

The purpose of the unit was threefold: Firstly, ‘to make permanent arrangements for the present and future keeping of records, materials, and objects likely to be of interest to future generations of students or others concerned with the college’, secondly, to establish ‘a collection of objects, books, and manuscripts [connected] with Edge Hill College since its foundation in Liverpool in 1885’, and thirdly, ‘to publish, as soon as it can be conveniently arranged, a history of the College.’

We theorised that Mr. Eason may have published a book about Edge Hill’s history that included some stories from the letters, but no such book has been found. We have, however, discovered an article by Mr. Eason in an issue of the ‘Edge’ magazine that, according to him, ‘is not a history of the college, which remains to be written and is in preparation; it is no more than a few reflections inspired by that history.’

One of my first roles in the archive was to research the first 25 years of early Edge Hill students (1885-1909). It was – and, with the project being unfinished, is – a joy to uncover the lives and stories of the hundreds of students I was researching. So, this section of Mr. Eason’s article resonated with me and my research in the archive:

“Have you ever looked at a nephew, friend, your husband or wife, and thought, ‘How little I really know about you’? All historical research is an exploration of a dark continent, of which the bare outline may be known, a few settlements and river courses, and no more; and this is none the less true when the object of enquiry is so familiar a figure in our lives, so strong a centre of our affections as is the college in which we have worked and lived.”

The first page of typed article. At the top of the page, in two different sets of handwriting it says:
'From ‘Edge’ College magazine, 1965.' and 'To the Director, with compliments Tom Eason April 1980.'
The article is titled 'Exploring a Dark Continent: The First Eighty Years at Edge Hill' by T.W. Eason.  The article says the following:
We may be prevented by sheer familiarity from recognising the very limited knowledge we have about our friends, our colleagues, neighbours – or our college. Have you ever looked at a nephew, friend, your husband or wife, and thought, ‘How little I really know about you?’ All historical research is an exploration of a dark continent, of which the bare outline may be known, a few settlements and river-courses, and no more; and this is none the les true when the object of enquiry is so familiar a figure in our lives, so strong a centre of our affections (and sometimes, partially, resentments), as is the college in which we have worked and lived.
It suddenly dawned on some of us recently how true this was of Edge Hill. It must be said that in the few – how busy and full of turmoil! – months since then, we have become more aware of the problems, and the questions, that stare at one from the history of our college, than of the answers. But that is, after all, the necessary first stage in building up a picture that will surely be of interest to many who survive from the forty generations of students of the college, and to others. We should like the history of the college, not without its bad moments but also not without distinction, to be valued and become part of the common, unspoken knowledge of students as they pass in turn through the courses, as well as honoured and preserved in a properly equipped (and kept up-to-date) archives centre. This article is not a history of the college, which remains to be written and is in preparation; it is no more than a few reflections inspired by that history. 
The change in the government of the college at the turn of the twenties has tended, perhaps, to obscure the picture in the minds of staff and students. The way in which the administration of the Lancashire County Authority tends – rightly- to loom in the centre of our picture today takes inevitably from our awareness of our own history, which is not only forty years longer than that of our connection with the Authority, but goes back beyond the creation of the Lancashire Education Authority and even the County Council itself. Edge Hill was born in the Dickensian days of local government by vestries and parishes – admittedly this was in Liverpool, whose Town Council had long been a model of educational enlightenment. We look up to the Liverpool University Institute of Education as our academic godparent – but we are older than the University. Like the Mona Lisa in Pater’s image, we are older than the rocks on which we sit. But the living sense of continuity has been broken – by the removal of Durning Road – and deepened by the tragic loss of that building described in a letter to the Principal in Ormskirk in 1940 displayed in our exhibition – and the names given to the new buildings in the Lancashire countryside – that ‘country of wide expanses’, as the Principal called it in 1929 when the site was purchased – have not tended to keep the connection alive. Stanley, Clough, John Dalton, Lady Margaret – all fine Lancashire names, but not, except now through their long association with the post-1933 college, really of Edge Hill! My unofficial sampling of older staff and of students last year revealed few who know the formal name, Hale Memorial Hall, of the ’Assembly Hall’, and none at all (in the sample) who knew could identify ‘Hale’ of its name. Yet Sarah Jane Hale was not only a lovely and interesting person, as a revealed snapshot sent by one of her students (‘very like her, but failing to show, as no snapshot could, her wonderful eyes’, the writer sends fifty years later); but through her long principalship, begun within very few years of
The first page of an article by T. W. Eason on the first eighty years of Edge Hill, where he uses information from the letters

Part III: K.W. Wild

Not to pick favourites, but a letter signed off by ‘K. W. Wild’ soon stood out from the rest. Katherine Winifred Wild, student at Edge Hill Teacher Training college (1907-10), wrote many insightful anecdotes about her time at College, as well as some about her time after.

A yellow slip of paper which contains information about K.W. Wild. The index card contains the following information:
1271 WILD, K. Winifred 1907-10
Greenways, Yarm-on-Tees, Yorks
Lp. M II. PC (E.G.)
College Sub.  Result
Reading – A
Needlework – B
Music – E
Drawing – C
Teaching rank – C
B.A. Liverpool, 1910
M.A. “, 1914
Katherine’s student index card
The first page of a letter written in blue ink. In the top corner there is red ink in different handwriting that says '3 year student' and then in pencil next to this 1907-10 is written in a circle. The letter says:
Co. Durham 


Dear Sir (or Madam?), As one of the older members of the Guild of Old Students (1907-10) I am responding to your call for reminiscences. 1st a snap of Miss Hale, very like her, but failing to show, as no snap could, her wonderful eyes. 
Second, some notes on the ridiculous on my college life. The most absurd rule I can remember was that, though we each had a tiny private cubicle, we weren’t allowed to use it for study. One of the jobs of the staff on duty was to go poking round & hustle off ant ardent but erring reader. I was, too, frequently turned out of the very pleasant library. The idea seemed to be to keep us on the [word can't be deciphered], 
In those days the staff was called ‘governess’
The first page of Katherine’s letter

Miss. Sarah Hale, head mistress during Katherine’s time at the college, must have had a positive impression of her, as Katherine says ‘[included is] a snap of Miss Hale, very like her, but failing to show, as no snap could, her wonderful eyes.’ Unfortunately, any additional slips of photographs included in these letters weren’t found with their respective letters during the stocktake; they may be in the archive or misplaced at some point, it’s still a mystery to us.

Regarding another member of staff, Miss. ‘Dolly’ Dewhurst, renowned for her strictness (though, according to Katherine, ‘she did have a heart’!), she discusses her escapades with spelling:

“Dolly’s method of correction was to allot a mark out of 20 & take off me for every spelling mistake, & I left her in the awkward predicament of having to record a minus mark.”

However, despite her apparent spelling struggles, Katherine then goes on to say:

‘[…] later, I took a 1st Hons. in Philosophy at London and C. U. Press published a book of mine, I never could spell.’

And we have recently acquired Katherine’s book for the archive, as shown here, a first edition from 1938!

An old, green book cover with a small shield emblem at the very top. Below this is the title Intuition by K.W. Wild. Beneath this is the blurb of the book: Women, children, animals, geniuses are all commonly credited with “intuition”. The word is in everyday use, and accepted with-out discussion.
But what is Intuition? Who has defined it? Is there such a faculty?
Miss Wild looks into contexts that have the authority of great names or of accepted usage to see whether or not the idea behind the word can be deduced. If she does not settle the question, she shows the problem with a new clarity, the possible answers, and a which, perhaps, the right answer may at last be found. 
Cambridge University Press
The front cover of Katherine’s book ‘Intuition’

Katherine’s book is still being printed today and sold by major book retailers such as Waterstones and WH Smith. Certain online reviews about ‘Intuition’ comment on how relevant it still is, given it was written in the 1930s.

Following some extensive research using various online and in-archive sources about Katherine, I have been able to build up a chronology of her life. Here is the current timeline of the major life events for Katherine:

1888 – Born between April to June (no fixed date has been found yet) in 1888, Lancashire.

1907 – In the Martriculation Results section of the Manchester Courier, she is listed as attending Clarence Street College, Liverpool.

1907-10 – Attends Edge Hill Teacher Training College on Durning Road, Liverpool. Her index card tells us she leaves with a teaching mark of C.

1910 – Attains B.A. (first-class honours) in Philosophy in London. In Katherine’s letter, she says, ‘Miss Hale had read Moral Philosophy at Cambridge & psychology was well on its way’. We have theorised Miss Hale’s impression on Katherine in philosophy. We can assume this degree was the foundation for her publication in 1938.

1910-12 – Assistant Mistress at Liverpool Education Committee.

1912-15 – Assistant Mistress at Rice Lane Council School, Liverpool.

1914 – Attains an M.A. in Liverpool.

1917-19 – English Mistress at County School, Aberaeron, Ceridigion.

1919-? – Senior English Mistress at Secondary School for Girls, Stockton-on-Tees.

1938 (Feb 16th) – Appears in Liverpool Daily post promoting her book, ‘Intuition’.

1938 (May 16th) – Mentioned in The Scotsman under ‘INTUITION, Emotions and their Regions of Influence’, a review of her book. The reviewer (unnamed) states: ‘Miss Wild’s is in every way a good book, a work of much distinction, particularly well written, dealing with an elusive subject prudently [and] tactfully […]’

1938 – Publishes ‘Intuition’ with Cambridge University Press.

1939 – Living with Florence Sweetinburgh, both of whom are unmarried and Secondary School Mistresses, in Egglescliffe, Durham.

1965 – Writes letter to Mr. Eason regarding her college memories following his call out in the College Magazine.

1970 (Apr 23rd) – Dies in lorry collision with three other women including Florence Sweetinburgh, Florence’s sister Evelyn, and Muriel Whitehouse. The Hull Daily Mail on Friday 24 April 1970 had a column about the collision.

Katherine is the student I chose to celebrate and spotlight in this blog because she’s the only one (as of yet) we’ve done extensive research on. One of the most exciting parts of the discovery of these letters (and the Archive in general!) is the research to do and the questions to answer.

A headshot of a man with dark hair, a short beard and glasses. He is wearing a black and brown floral shirt.

Do you want to know more?

All records included as images in this blog can be seen at the Edge Hill Archive in Catalyst.

If you would like to book an appointment at the archive, donate anything, or share stories (I’m sounding like Mr. Eason, aren’t I?), don’t hesitate to contact us!

By Jack Bennett, Archive Assistant

Learn more about the archive

To find out more about our archive you can visit their webpage or browse their collections online.