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A Background to the Early Days of
Windsor and Maidenhead College of Further Education

Claremont Road, Windsor

This article covers the period from the late 1940s to the early 1980s and excludes subsequent changes

East Berks College with Trinity Church behind at sunset

East Berks College with Trinity Church behind at sunset
To the right, the Mexican Bean Tree in the Engineering Block Quadrangle

The first prospectus of the Windsor Technical Institute, for evening classes only, was issued in 1947. A rubber stamp used at the time gives the name as Windsor Evening Institute, this presumably dates from the time when courses other than the strictly technical began to be included, although this is the only reference to the establishment by that name. Classes were held in various schools and other premises all over Windsor. The separate institutes in East Berks were merged to form one Area College in 1951. Classes under the auspices of East Berks College were held at schools in Maidenhead, Windsor, Sunningdale, Cookham, Cranborne and later, Ascot . Some of these 'Outposts of Empire' still continue, some have been closed, some new ones have been opened. These classes now come under the jurisdiction of the Adult Education Department and there are two Adult Education Centres, one at Furze Platt School, Maidenhead and the other for Sunningdale and Ascot at Ascot Heath School. The other departments of the College are General Studies, Business Studies and Engineering.

Mr. Joseph Martin, MA., who had been appointed Superintendent of the Technical Institute in 1947 became Principal of the newly created College in 1950 and remained until his death in 1977.

Administration was carried out from offices in the Royal Albert Institute, Sheet Street, Windsor. This Institute, under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Albert, was purpose-built for educational , cultural and recreational use by the people of Windsor and was administered by a committee of local residents until it was taken over by Berkshire County Council in 1947. The building was demolished in 1975 and rebuilt as offices. A statue of Prince Albert which originally stood at the back of the stage in the hall of the old building has been incorporated in the frontage of the office block.

The first buildings of the College in Windsor as it exists today in Claremont Road were brought into use in the session 1956/57, a range of single storey workshops and classrooms. Similarly the premises in Boyn Hill Avenue, Maidenhead, were extended by new buildings during this period and this process of expansion continued until the mid-sixties.

A 1959/60 prospectus celebrated the completion of B Block, Windsor and a new engineering block at Maidenhead.

The records do not include numbers of students in the early days but there is a reference to 'over one thousand enrolments' in the preliminary notes to the 1949/50 prospectus. Enrolments for the session 1979/80 totalled approximately 8500. The 1949 prospectus listed fifty-one members of teaching staff, rising to approximately 220 at the start of the 1980s, almost equally divided between full-time and part-time.

East Berks College of Further Education became Windsor and Maidenhead College of Further Education in 1974 at the time of local government reorganisation.

The site of the College in Claremont Road, Windsor, has always had educational connections. The original building on the site was Church House, which became part of St. Mark's School, and this developed into Imperial Service College on the nearby site west of Alma Road, and the original building then became the Windsor County Boys School. Church House was built by Stephen Hawtrey as his home. Hawtrey was incumbent of the adjacent Trinity Church, which he served until 1872 when he resigned from his position as mathematics master at Eton College. The name of the Hawtrey family is commemorated in Hawtrey House at Eton College and in Hawtrey Road which runs along the east side of the College. The original Windsor County Boys School playing field on which East Berks College currently stands was known by local children as The Prairie and had a horse trough installed to one side. Miss Harding, who ran the Froebell School in Clarence Crescent in the 1950s, would from time to time take the schoolchildren to 'The Prairie' on sunny afternoons. This horse trough is still on the site, in the quadrangle of the Engineering block, beside the Mexican Bean Tree.

The avenue of chestnut trees along Claremont Road has been a famous feature of this area throughout the 20th century and is mentioned in the book covering the early history of Windsor County Boys School. "The most beautiful sight, the long row of chestnuts which bordered the field, fortunately remain." [Page 34. The History of Windsor County Boys School. 1908-1929.]

In June 2001, plans were announced to redevelop the entire area. East Berks College Redevelopment.

East Berks College Redevelopment

Stories from 2001

Stories from 1999-2000

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