Godalming, Surrey> Picture Gallery> Godalming Section> This page
The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
Bridge Road - Technical Institute and School of Science and Art

An earlier Godalming Institute had been set up by Thomas Rea, J.P. in 1858[1]. Its promoters had wanted to place "within reach of all classes the means of acquiring useful and scientific knowledge through lectures on the arts and sciences". A library and reading room were to be set up in the Town Hall and numerous meetings and lectures were arranged[2]. By 1893 the former venture was reported to have been in a moribund state for some time, said to be neglected as nobody was doing anything with it. An attempt to infuse new life into it had failed[3].

Instead, a new and somewhat different Technical Institute was about to be erected beside the bridge over Hell Ditch, under the joint auspices of Surrey County Council and the local Technical Education Committee[3], later Godalming Higher Education Committee. The state had become involved in promoting vocational education through the Technical Instruction Act of 1889[4] and a number of other technical institutes were being introduced across the county at the same time as the one in Godalming.

The new building first appeared on the 1895 OS map[5] and opened as the Technical Institute and School of Science and Art on 13 May 1896. It was built of brick and Bath stone in the Renaissance Style[6]. The words "Surrey County Council" can still be read on the triangular pediment and the panel below this reads "Godalming Technical Institute". On the right of the building is a square tower, at the bottom of which is the porch surrounding the front door. This has a rounded top, underneath which is an attractive shell moulding supported on stone pilasters on brick bases.

It was designed by Samuel Welman, an architect in Godalming for over 40 years who had premises in Church Street. He was also the borough surveyor for some years[7].

Classes held and subjects taught included elementary teaching, building construction, magnetism and electricity, French, shorthand, wood carving, carpentry, ambulance (men), dress cutting, cookery and nursing. When Viscount Middleton addressed those attending the annual prize giving in 1897 he noted that there had been a slight fall off in the attendees but trusted that the movement in Godalming would be no momentary flash in the pan. He hoped that there might be a steady influx of students to those different classes. A laboratory had been set in the science classroom for elementary physics and it was expected it would begin after Christmas[8]. Early the following year Councillor Rea commented that the chief work of the County Council during the previous three years had been the building and opening of the Institute. "The excellent educational work which the Council is doing here is illustrated by the fact that the results of examinations place Godalming Technical Institute second to none in the county[9]."

The effect of the First World War was impinging on classes at the Technical Institute by the summer of 1915. When the next session was being arranged it was first thought that some classes would be discontinued as attendance had fallen, some subjects were to be dropped and others would be held only if there was sufficient demand. In the end, things were not as serious as expected and 414 took advantage of the facilities offered; this included 200 attending the Red Cross nursing classes. Meanwhile the art master, Mr. Victor W. Burnard, was elected to the Royal Society of Miniature Painters[10].

The Institute was managed by a committee organized by the Town Council. In 1913 Alderman Henry George Bunning, a Godalming builder, was the chairman. Dr. Thomas Ethelbert Page, a former Charterhouse house master, filled the position in 1924[6]. He was chairman for at least 15 years. Richard Mervyn Palmer served as secretary to the Godalming Higher Education Committee from 1904 until 1932[11]. He was the Headmaster of the Technical Institute for some years[12] but was then appointed head of Meadrow School[13].

Classes were held during the evenings as well as during the day. One problem regarding attendance in the inter war era, though, was highlighted at a meeting in 1931 when Mr. L. R. Furneaux remarked that the reason why young people in the villages did not avail themselves of the classes at the Technical Institute was the difficulty of transport. It was also noted that since the war a number of students were not up to standard with arithmetic, some receiving no marks at all when sitting for junior scholarships. This was put down to the elementary education they had received and there was a call for something between the elementary and technical schooling provided to improve this. A Central School was suggested and the meeting decided to urge the County Council to act quickly to both reorganise elementary education and to set up a Central School in the borough[14].

The Technical Institute later became an Adult Education Institute. The building changed its use again in 2002 when it was converted into flats; it is now known as Bridge Gate House and is Grade II listed.

"Godalming. The New Hall". No publisher. Posted at Godalming on 1 Sep 1921. Personal message.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Surrey Gazette", 22 January 1889.

[2] "West Surrey Times", 25 February 1860. The Mayor of Godalming was its president, supported by eight vice-presidents and a treasurer. A library and reading room were to be in the Town Hall.

[3] "West Surrey Times", 30 December 1893.

[4] "The London Gazette", 3 September 1889.

[5] Surrey XXXI.15 Ordnance Survey map - Revised: 1895, Published: 1897.

[6] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1913 and 1924.

[7] References to Mr. Welman include "Kelly's Directory", 1891 (of Church street, surveyor to the corporation); 1911 census (Samuel aged 64 architect and surveyor); "Kelly's Directory", 1913 Samuel Welman M.S.A, 16 Church Street. He also wrote two books about the church, one published in 1900 and the second in 1922. He was buried on 10 Jul 1923 at the Nightingale Cemetery, Deanery Road.

[8] "Surrey Advertiser", 22 December 1897. Technical Education in Godalming.

[9] "West Surrey Times", 12 February 1898. This was in a letter to the newspaper from Councillor Rea, who was hoping to be re-elected as a County Council for the borough in 1898.

[10] "West Surrey Times", 10 July 1915. Technical Education. War's Effect on Godalming Institute's Work. Popular Nursing Classes.

[11] "Surrey Advertiser", 18 June 1932. Technical Education at Godalming. Mr. R. M. Palmer Resigns His Serviceship. High Tributes to Long and Valued Service. Richard Palmer passed away in 1944.

[12] 1911 census entry.

[13] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1913.

[14] "Surrey Advertiser", 23 May 1931. Meeting of the Godalming Higher Education Committee at the Insitute. A Central School was set up. It subsequently became the County School.

Godalming Pictures Index
Next page
Previous page
Elsewhere on this website
Godalming, Surrey (about)
Godalming, Surrey: Murder, Trial and Execution, 1817-18