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Matlock: Rockside - Teacher Training College, 1945-88
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Rockside in Matlock Training College Brochure 1946-47

1946-48. The First Intake

Summer School 1952

Staff & Students 1955

Studying at Rockside, 1954-6

Commemoration Weekends, 1955 & 1956

Staff & Students 1958

Just before Christmas 1945 the press reported some "Good News for Matlock". The news was that, as the Royal Air Force had vacated Rockside, Derbyshire Education Committee had approached the Goodwin family, who still owned the building, to see if they could buy the hydro and had authorised the sum of £30,000 for the purpose[1]. The County Council subsequently confirmed that they had bought the hydro for conversion into a training college at their meeting on 16 January 1946. It was hoped to open it for a limited number of students the following October although residential accommodation was not necessarily to be offered immediately. Nevertheless, their aim was to house 120-130 students with staff[2]. The ballroom was to become an assembly hall and four other large rooms were to be made into a gymnasium, a common room and lecture rooms.

By February the Education Committee was negotiating with the owners of Chatsworth Hydro as its members wished to enlarge the Training College, increasing the number of students from 120 to 200[3].

To go back a few years, the Minister of Education, R. A. Butler, had set up the McNair Committee in 1942. There were then 83 training colleges, 16 art colleges where art teachers were trained and 22 university training departments in the country. The McNair report was published in 1944, the year the landmark Education Act was passed that was to revolutionise education by organising it into three stages (primary, secondary and further)[4]. More school places were needed if more education was to be provided and, therefore, an increase in the number of teachers entering the profession was a priority. An additional factor was the increase in births after the War, peaking in 1946 and 1947 before dropping a little and then increasing once more.

Miss Gladys E. Allen, the headmistress of Merrywood Grammar School for Girls in Bristol, was appointed principal of Matlock Training College, and was to take up her duties in August 1946[5]. She then set about recruiting her staff and there were a flurry of advertisements in the local and national press seeking everything from chambermaids to lecturers. In February 1947 tenders were invited for a Science Laboratory and Lecture Rooms[6]. Everyone had to be fed and Wholesalers and Retailers were also invited to tender for annual contacts to supply the college's dietary needs. In 1948 and 1949, for example, the list included groceries and provisions, including those that were rationed, meat, sausages, fish, vegetables, milk, bread and flour[7]. The building had to be maintained so tenders were put out for painters and decorators; in 1949 it was the outside that needed painting[8]. One more unusual tender was for the Demolition of the Decontamination Centre, presumably left over from the war years[9].

"In this difficult period of post-war reconstruction we seem to be groping in a chaotic darkness, without plan or purpose, and yet we are trying to state an educational policy and to implement a new Education Act," said Miss G. E. Allen, Principal of Matlock Training College, speaking at the Herbert Strutt School speech day at Belper yesterday. "Are we putting the cart before the horse and endangering the success of our educational experiments because we have not taken stock of our society?"
17 March 1947[10].

When the college opened in 1946 the very first student through the doors was a local girl, Angela Maureen Hursthouse. She had received her Higher School Certificate results on 24 August and became a temporary clerk on 20 September, helping the college staff prepare for the start of the first term. Term began on Wednesday 2 October and Angela then joined the first intake of 100 students. She resided at Chatsworth Hall as Rockside was cleared of squatters and needed to be repaired and redecorated. It was ready for students in September 1947[11].

Over the years a number of local girls and women followed Angela's lead and completed their teacher training at Matlock. It would be interesting to know if any Matlock and district men trained here once the college became co-ed.

The Minister of Education, Mr. George Tomlinson, visited the college on 16 October 1948. He was to see the results of an environmental survey of Matlock that the students had undertaken. Small groups had examined the climate, weather, water supply, farming, farm life and market gardening in the area. They had also studied the population statistics, place names and other information. It was undertaken to provide a picture of the past, present and future of the town[12].

In 1949 the County Council published its revised plans for new schools, to be carried out over a period of twelve years and highlighting six priorities. Number six covered Training Colleges for teachers, particularly women, and Matlock Training College was cited as an example of what could be achieved[13]. At this time the trainee teachers studied for just two years. In 1950 a one year course was introduced for mature teachers who were unqualified; as a result several Matlock women took advantage of the opportunity to gain their teaching certificate. Teacher training only became a three year course in 1960, although it had been recommended by McNair in 1944.

Two large houses on Cavendish Road, Rockwood and Stoneycroft, were bought in 1958, the year of the first intake of male students on the campus[14]. Having lived next door to Stoneycroft in the 1960s, we were hardly aware of their presence. It was perhaps the male students enjoying a joke when, in 1961, they heard a rumour that Riber Castle was for sale and put in a tender of 15s 11½d. Bids were received from all over the country at the offices of Matlock U.D.C.; they arrived by phone, telegram and from personal callers, with £100 being the highest of the bids. Amongst the bidders were the Midland Locomotive Spotters. The Town Clerk, Mr. Owen Hunt, had to explain that the misunderstanding arose because Matlock U.D.C. had asked the County Council if they would be interested in buying the Castle and preserving it, but the castle was definitely not on the open market[15].

Not long after the college became co-educational, its management committee sought permission from the Council to open a licensed bar. This was approved at both local and county level. Nevertheless, the local Methodist Circuit protested, describing it as unnecessary, undesirable and dangerous[16]. A survey of the 140 teacher training colleges in the country in 1964 showed that many students said they were hungry. With the backing of Miss Allen, the college's student's union pressed for a National inquiry into the catering facilities offered to them. By this time there were 422 people studying at the college[17].

rockside hall 2
Rockside, about 1946

Miss Allen retired in 1967[18] and was followed as principal by Mr. R. Clayton. He and his family needed somewhere to live and the college bought The Rowans on Cavendish Road. The house had been the web mistress's family home and had, before that, been owned by Major Douglas, the former manager of Smedley's Hydro.

In 1988 the college amalgamated with Derby's Training College, now part of the University of Derby. The students were offered the choice of staying in Matlock or moving to Derby and they chose the latter. It was a sad day for Matlock when they departed. But the buildings they took over in the 1940s and 50s remain.

There is more about Rockside




From the South


Ups & Downs


Tennis 1920s

Kitchen Staff & Waitresses 1920-5

Staff Ball

Claremont & Mr Rowland

1. "Matlock Training College, Rockside Hydro, Matlock". Salmon Series, J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, No.22360. Real Photo. Printed in England. Unused. Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. Photograph of Rockside, taken about 1946, © Maureen Smith collection.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 21 December 1945.
[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 16 January 1946.
[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 27 February 1946.
[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 17 July 1946.
[5] Lester Smith , W. O. (1957) "Education" , Penguin. There were also some domestic science and P.E. colleges.
[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 3 February 1947. Advertisement by Derbyshire Education Committee.
[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 27 August 1948 / 9 September 1949. The contracts were to begin the following January.
[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 13 July 1949.
[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 31 January 1949.
[10] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 28 March 1947.
[11] "Matlock Mercury", 11 Oct 1966. College Days Remembered with Affection, by Leonora Silverthorn who became the deputy principal.
[12] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 4 October 1948. Minister's Visit.
[13] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 14 June 1949. County's revised plans for new schools.
[14] Women students were the first college residents to live at Rockwood.
[15] "The Times", Saturday, 20 May, 1961.
[16] "The Times", Saturday, 16 Sep, 1961.
[17] "The Times", Friday, 31 Jan, 1964.
[18] Miss Allen subsequently lived at Bakewell where she died on 14 Aug 1986. She had been born in London on 8 May 1902.