Underneath the Hazels: Unravelling the Past of C.F. Mott College

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Knowsley Archives have been busy cataloguing, conserving and preserving the archives of C.F. Mott College that are stored in the ARK. This remarkable and innovative college had a campus that straddled the Huyton and Prescot border and at its heart was the Hazels, a stately 18th century building that had been owned by, amongst others, members of the Pilkington family and is still standing. The college was named after a distinguished former Director of Education for the City of Liverpool, Charles Francis Mott.

The Hazels
The Hazels

Founded in 1946 in response to the national shortage of teachers following the end of the Second World War, C.F. Mott College would eventually go on to become one of the largest and most successful teacher training colleges in the country with a reputation for academic innovation. By the 1970s, the college was also offering degree courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences and science, before finally merging with Liverpool Polytechnic (which later became Liverpool John Moores University) in 1983.

Three students, 1952
Three students in a halls of residence bedroom, 1952

At first, the college was women-only and relatively small. In 1951 Dr. D.M. Farr replaced Miss Whiting as Principal and she would lead a rapid expansion of the campus, with additional buildings, sports and leisure facilities, as well as accommodation for students and staff. As the campus developed, student numbers increased and the social life of the students evolved. Dr. Farr would later write proudly of the “acquisition of a good dance floor [that] changed the whole outlook of college life.” She was keen to ensure that students from the University of Liverpool were invited to take part in activities at the college (and vice versa) so that social events received a new impetus. This enthusiastic encouragement of the students’ social and leisure life was regarded by Dr. Farr as “a welcome prevention of the ‘cosiness’ which can overtake a small women’s college.”

The student choir rehearsing, circa 1966
The student choir rehearsing, circa 1966

In 1959 the college became a mixed college and male students were admitted for the first time. This was another period of rapid expansion for the college, with new postgraduate courses being added to the curriculum and a surge in staff and student numbers.

As innovative as Dr. Farr appears to have been, college life during the 1950s and 1960s can seem strangely archaic to our modern eyes. Among the college archives are House Committee minute books that reveal the very serious and lengthy debates the staff would have about aspects of the students’ lives. Over the course of several years, from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, the use of gramophones was a hot topic at House Committee meetings: how loud should they be (not very)? Should students be allowed them in their own bedrooms (can’t they just make do with the wireless and gramophones in the common rooms?)?

Even sunbathing was raised at the House Committee meetings. The sight of female students catching a few rays was resulting in “visitors being embarrassed” in 1956 and students were instructed to sunbathe only where there was no risk of them being spotted! Who these visitors were and why they were looking in the first place is never mentioned!

A student teacher with pupils, circa 1976
A student teacher with pupils, circa 1976

Another common debate that pops up time and time again in the House Committee minutes concerns the clothing students were allowed to wear. It is worth bearing in mind that, for much of its history, the college was purely a teacher training college, so students will have been working on placements in schools. For the college staff it was important that trainee teachers were perceived as smartly dressed and positive role models for children. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that this extended to what clothing was acceptable for students to wear at any time. In summer 1956, staff were reminded that no one should be wearing jeans. However, “special permission would be given to cyclists if they asked for it.” This debate would rumble on for the next few years with change only coming in 1960, when it was decided that new or clean jeans could be “presentable,” although old ones looked “scruffy and untidy.” It was agreed that smart jeans would, for the first time, be officially allowed…sort of: this change would only apply to male students!

Students playing pool, circa early 1980s
Students playing pool, circa early 1980s

For female students, clothing restrictions would be more stringently applied for several more years. While men were strolling around campus sporting their smart new jeans, the female students were fighting for the right to wear slacks in the TV room. This was eventually allowed in 1960, but there remained a great concern about how female students were presenting themselves to the outside world and “apart from hiking and college expeditions, women students must not wear slacks outside college.”

Of course, the times they were a-changin’ and the college would become more and more liberal in its approach to student life, with late 1960s, 70s and 80s photographs in the archive showing both male and female students in jeans, slacks and all manner of clothing that would probably have appalled the House Committee of a generation before.

The traditions of constant evolution, expansion and adaptation that Dr. Farr had begun would continue with her replacements, Mr. Clarke (1965-1974) and Mr. Cane (1974-1983). The college had a number of minor name changes during its history and, following the addition of degree courses validated by the University of Lancaster, it became the C.F. Mott campus of the City of Liverpool College of Higher Education (COLCHE) in 1978. Within a few years, the college merged with Liverpool Polytechnic and the campus closed, but its expertise in arts and humanities would make a significant contribution to the Polytechnic’s fine reputation in these areas, maintained by the current Liverpool John Moores University.

Get in touch! We’re keen to hear from former college students and staff who would be interested in having their memories recorded for future generations or would like to deposit any mementos of the college with the archive.

Students relaxing on campus, circa early 1980s
Students relaxing on campus, circa early 1980s

An exhibition about the college will be at Kirkby Library from 14th November 2019 – 31st January 2020. A private view event will take place at Kirkby Library on Wednesday 13th November 2019, 6-8pm, and will be a chance to see the exhibition first and hear a short talk about the archive collection. Please note, this is an RSVP-only event. Please reserve your place by emailing daniel.copley@knowsley.gov.uk or calling Knowsley Archives on 0151 443 4291.

Family History Help Desks 2019

As previous blogs have described, Knowsley Archives provide a series of Family History Help Desks in libraries across the borough every month. If you are new to family history research, or are trying to find your way through the maze of information and resources, expert advice and guidance is available to help you on your way.

If you would like support with your family history research, staff at the ARK – Knowsley Archives’ base in Kirkby Library – are available to help during our opening hours (see sidebar on the right), but the Family History Help Desks are an opportunity to get support at a time and location that may be more convenient for you.

There is no charge for sessions and they are run on a drop-in basis. We will do our best to answer your questions on the day, but more complicated queries may need to be followed up after your visit or require an additional appointment.

Sessions for 2019 are as follows:

PRESCOT LIBRARY

Tuesday

10am-1pm

STOCKBRIDGE LIBRARY

Tuesday

2pm-5pm

KIRKBY LIBRARY

Thursday

10am-1pm

HALEWOOD LIBRARY

Friday

2pm-5pm

HUYTON LIBRARY

Saturday

10am-1pm

22nd January 22nd January 24th January 25th January 26th January
19th February 19th February 21st February 22nd February 23rd February
19th March 19th March 21st March 22nd March 23rd March
23rd April 23rd April 25th April 26th April 27th April
28th May 28th May 30th May 31st May 1st June
25th June 25th June 27th June 28th June 29th June
23rd July 23rd July 25th July 26th July 27th July
20th August 20th August 22nd August 23rd August 24th August
17th September 17th September 19th September 20th September 21st September
15th October 15th October 17th October 18th October 19th October
12th November 12th November 14th November 15th November 16th November
10th December 10th December 12th December 13th December 14th December

 

Test your Knowsley Sports Knowledge!

As part of the Knowsley Sports and Culture Awards, which were held on Friday October 13th, 2017, Knowsley Archives put together a sports quiz based on items from our archive collections. Thanks in particular should go to our super volunteer, Michael, who has been scouring our newspaper cuttings to find interesting sports-themed stories.

Huyton Cricket Club, 1955

We’ll be exploring some of those stories, and looking for people’s memories, memorabilia and experiences, as part of our Heritage Lottery funded sports project. Look our for more information about that project in the local press and on our social media pages – and we’ll be adding another blog here all about the sports project very soon.

In the meantime, follow the link below to have a go at our quiz!

Take Our Sports Quiz!

 

Rock The ARK: Capturing Knowsley’s Music Memories

Do you have an interesting story to tell of artists or groups that you’ve seen or heard? Maybe you were in a band, a choir, an orchestra, or remember songs your grandparents used to sing?

If so, the ARK (Archive Resource for Knowsley) wants to know about it!

Your story could be of an artist or group from Knowsley, or from anywhere else, so long as you yourself live or work in Knowsley (or have done in the past).

Classical, pop, rock, jazz, soul, folk, disco, blues, gospel, techno, house, hip-hop – whatever music has been a part of your life, it’s important to the ARK.

The ARK wants to find out what music means to people and build a community collection of memories and memorabilia that traces Knowsley’s music history.

Each of Knowsley’s libraries (Halewood, Huyton, Kirkby, Prescot and Stockbridge Village) has an exhibition with information about artists and groups from Knowsley during the past 100 years or so. Each library in Knowsley focuses on different artists so, if you can, go and visit them all.

In all five of the libraries, you can listen to a selection of songs from Knowsley artists and vote for your favourite – this will create a Knowsley’s Top 10! Don’t worry if you can’t make it to one of our libraries – you can also vote right here using our poll below and see videos of each of the songs to help you choose your favourites.

How about sharing your music memories in writing with us to help us build our music memories archive? There are lots of ways to share your memories with us. You can send any memories to us via email or post (see below). Or, if you prefer, you can also share your stories on ARK’s Facebook and Twitter pages and use #RockTheARK so we can find you! Alternatively, you can leave comments below this blog. Every so often, we’ll be adding some of the best stories to our Rock The ARK music timeline – take a look!

Or maybe you’d be willing to be recorded talking about your music memories and experiences? If so, the ARK would love to hear from you – these recordings will be added to our oral history archive collections and be preserved for future generations!

The ARK is also keen to capture any memorabilia that you might have, and be willing to part with or share a copy of, such as photographs, tickets, flyers, posters etc. Help us create a wonderful resource that will mean people in the future will discover why music was important to you. We’ll add #RockTheARK images to our Flickr page so that they’re all in one place and can be easily viewed.

Rock The ARK is one of the ARK’s community history projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Everything that is captured during the project will be kept in Knowsley Archives for posterity.

As well as social media, here are the other ways to contact the ARK:

Tel: 0151 443 4365

Email: infoheritage@knowsley.gov.uk

Post: Rock The ARK, Archive Resource for Knowsley, 1st Floor, Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby. L32 8XY