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Matlock: Teacher Training College - Rockside Students, 1954-6
People who lived in the Matlocks : Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
1954 - Students helping to organise activities at the Parish Church Youth Club, Matlock.
Janet Tilley | Unknown | Unknown | Unknown | Unknown | Mairi Sykes
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Rockside in Matlock Training College Brochure 1946-47

1946-48. The First Intake

Summer School 1952

Staff & Students 1955

Commemoration Weekends, 1955 & 1956

Staff & Students 1958

This description of student life at the all female Matlock Training College in the 1950s is based on Mairi Beighton's account of her personal experience whilst studying at Rockside. Although these young women were a little older, some of what she says about the various requirements, rules and restrictions is not too far removed from the life of girls who attended British boarding schools in the same era.

1954, new to the college.
Janet Tilley | Mairi Sykes | Margaret Hoyte
(seated). They were all wearing
the college scarf.

Before they arrived in Matlock they were allocated "Grandmothers", a near-to-home past student whom they would visit to find out about routines. Once they started at the college they were assigned a "Mother", a second year student, to ease them into the routine of communal living. "Daughters" were expected to do odd tasks for the mother if asked. They were also put in touch with a local family, for advice if needed and to visit for Sunday tea or perhaps watch TV. Problems would quickly disappear, though, on Saturdays over coffee and the best meringues in the world at a small bakery on the main street (Moore's on Dale Road).

1955 Walking, somewhere not too far from Rockside.
Marjorie Blunn | Anne Mason | Janet Tilley | Margaret Chance

Each student needed to take her own travel rug (definitely essential in winter), bed linen, towels, a laundry bag, linen serviettes, a napkin ring and books. It was a different kind of life for many; they had been brought up during the war which had limited travel unless you were an evacuee from one of the larger cities. Interestingly, one of the group had been sent from London to a village near Mairi's home during the War. When she was a student it was too far to go for twice termly weekend visits back home to London so she stayed with Mairi and met up with the family where she had been billeted, something that did not often happen.

Mealtimes at the hall of residence were formal occasions, with the students remaining standing until the staff had paraded in and grace had been said. At the end of the meal nobody could leave until Miss Allen, the college principal, had departed. If a student needed to leave early she had to apply for permission, in writing, a week prior to the date. Written permission was also required if a student wanted their boyfriend to visit and the young men had to be introduced to staff before sitting down for the meal. A ration book was required as some foodstuff was still rationed but they always ate well - dripping sandwiches were not that horrific and the expedition for night-time cocoa could be adventurous in the dark. The cook was a tiny man, who enjoyed a laugh and worked miracles with the food that was available at the time.

Male guests were restricted to the dining and sitting rooms and there was a 10p.m. curfew with a book for signing out and back in (alone), with a member of staff checking. The students found their own way around this, of course. The fire escape was turned to good use and it was not unknown for friends to sign someone in.

1955 Rockside gardens.
Iris Burkinshaw | Marlene Towers | Margaret Hoyte | Janet Tilley | Marjorie Blunn | Jo Wharmby | Anne Mason
Four of the group of friends wearing the college blazer. They could not be missed
when they were out and about as it was a very bright emerald green, with black & white stripes.

The curriculum seemed well balanced, training them in educational techniques and extending their knowledge in their chosen subject. They also had to pass both English and PE as two basic requirements. Some attended woodwork and carving sessions, plus learned other crafts such as weaving. Mr Manley, who taught English, arranged elocution sessions and the women were taught how to use their voices effectively - so much so that several never needed a microphone when speaking to groups. Quite simple if they followed the "hand-on-head - feel the vibration" order whilst crossing a room chanting "a cup of tea and a bun for the monkey", out would boom the words!

Another lecturer, Miss MacAdams, arranged a Field Expedition to Betws y Coed, where the students stayed in a Youth Hostel, and a Field Exchange to Fishponds College in Bristol. She also organised visits to geological sites, down coalmines and caves, to prehistoric sites such as Cresswell Crags and to local mills that were then working.

YHA Betws Y Coed 1955, group in front of the Youth Hostel.
They travelled to Betws y Coed in a bus supplied by Mr. Strange of Tansley
(the bus shows the words "Strange & Son" under the back window).

The following people are in the group photo above:
Short back row: Unknown | Margaret Chance | Josephine Wharmby | Unknown | Unknown | Barbara Bobbe - gap - Mairi Sykes | Unknown | Josephine Whatley

Sporadic third row: Unknown | Doris Hardesty | Unknown | Margaret Hoyte | Janet Tilley | Unknown

Second row: Young man (staying in youth hostel) | Shirley Edwards | Pamela Mister | Margaret Chapman | Unknown | Unknown | Rosemary Wilson | Myfanwy Allen | Unknown | Anne Mason | Unknown

Front row: Unknown | Man in shorts (staying in youth hostel) | Unknown | Unknown | Unknown | Unknown | bus driver

1955 field excursion, somewhere near Betws y Coed, Wales.
Mairi Sykes | Margaret Hoyte | Janet Tilley
Jo | Anne Mason

Mairi Beighton suddenly found herself popular en route to the Bristol Field Exchange as she owned a transistor radio. The group were on a train crowded with National Servicemen and it was the day of the Wembley Cup Final. However, the wireless was confiscated for length of their visit as the Fishpond students were not allowed radios. Despite the Matlock students having radios, their use was forbidden after This was not popular as the "Top Twenty" from Radio Luxembourg came on later than the curfew, but muffled groups still congregated and were kept music-literate by listening to Pete Murray, Jimmy Young, Richard Attenborough et al. They lost their privileges if caught.

The students' social life was quite strictly monitored, with chaperones accompanying them to dances held at other colleges in the area. They were taken by bus to Derby and Nottingham, etc.

1955 Loughborough College dance.
Janet Tilley - kneeling 2nd Mairi Sykes - 3rd
Seated - 2 chaperones (from domestic staff).

What she learned at the college helped Mairi cope with a class of sixty pupils for the first term after she had qualified. Not the ideal way to start a probationary year. As the 1954-56 intake left Matlock they were told that future courses would last for three years. However, three years teacher training courses did not start until 1960. According to Mairi, her year were sent subsequently questionnaires over the next couple of years after they had left asking what they thought their training lacked, so that suggestions could then be added to the curriculum. Her answer was always "Nothing, except how to fill in registers - attendance - dinner - bank money!" Mairi was not alone in thinking these were nightmares for probationary teachers in the first few months after they had qualified.

A total of 105 students and 5 ex-students passed the exams in the summer of 1956 and gained their Teaching Certificate from the University of Nottingham's Institute of Education.

If any former students would like to see a copy of the Pass List please email the web mistress (the link is in the page footer).

There is more about Rockside




From the South




Tennis 1920s

Kitchen Staff & Waitresses 1920-5

Staff Ball

Ups & Downs

Claremont & Mr Rowland

Image supplied by and Copyright © Mairi Beighton.
Written, using Mairi's information, by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.