Bedford Training College
Bedford Training College
Bedford Training College was founded as a result of a decision to establish a kindergarten school in Bedford in 1881. A leading member of the founding group was Joshua Hawkins, part owner of the Bedfordshire Times.
The kindergarten school was to be run along the lines of the educationalist Friedrich Frobel. Froebel was a German educationalist who stressed the importance of pleasant surroundings, creative play, and physical training in the development of children.
The kindergarten moved very quickly from its first unsuitable home in Bromham Road to The Crescent in 1882, and this is where the Bedford Training College started its life. The Crescent was to remain the home of the college until 1968.
The college grew quickly, by 1887 there were 171 children and 40 students. In 1893 there were 60 students. In the early years of the college the curriculum followed by the trainee teachers was rather informal and academic standards were low although this improved throughout the 1890s. In 1901 the college was brought out by the then head of the college, Miss Walmsley.
In 1896 an extension to the school was opened in Goldington Avenue, known as Frobel House, and in 1899 a house in Ashburnham Road was purchased for a student hall of residence. Further extensions took place during 1905 when two cottages in The Crescent were demolished in order to build proper student accommodation and lecture rooms.
In 1920 the college was taken over by the Bedford Educational Association and run as a not-for-profit organisation and changes were made in the way students were examined and assessed to bring them into line with new national regulations. The college also continued to expand during this period; new buildings were purchased and the library improved.
The 1940s were very difficult for the college with changes in national standards and severe funding problems. These were not resolved until 1950 when the college was taken over by the Local Education Authority.
In 1976 the college was joined with Bedford Physical Education College and Mander College of Further Education to form Bedford College of Higher Education. In 1994 Bedford College of Higher Education left local authority control and was amalgamated into campuses of De Montfort University.
On others shoulders: an illustrated history of Polhill and Lansdowne Colleges, now De Montfort Unitversity Bedford by Richard Smart, De Montfort University, 1994