People's College of Further Education by W.W. Dixon - Principal 1967




People’s College was founded in 1846. It was erected by public subscription, inaugurated by the then princely donation of £3,000 by Mr. George Gill, an Inhabitant of the town. The design of the founders was to afford “superior instruction for the working classes for ever”.


Throughout the 121 years of its existence, the College has taken a prominent place In the educational system of the City of Nottingham and has sent forth many pupils and students who have become notable citizens and have contributed greatly to the well being of the community.

Evening classes were first organised, for the teaching of the rudiments of education and “of such science, art anti language” as might “best cause them to become worthy members of the community”. A day school for boys and girls was organised a little later. The Importance of the evening classes held at People’s College is best realised by the fact that it was not until 1855 that Evening Schools received the official recognition implied by the payment of a government grant. The first classes at People’s College were attended not only by young people of the town, but also by those who lived in the surrounding villages. A wide variety of subjects including Metallurgy, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Machine Drawing, Latin and other languages were found in the curriculum, and there is no doubt that from its very early days Peoples College was a flourishing institution.

The College was open for classes in Commercial and Technical subjects on three evenings a week. Admission was free by ticket which could be obtained at the School Board Offices or from the Superintendent at the School. To prevent irresponsible application a charge of two pence was made for each ticket; the sums collected in this way being devoted to the Prize Fund. During the latter years of the 19th century the sessional enrolments ranged from 700 to 800 with student hours ranging from 25,000 to 30,000. There is no doubt that during these years very good work was being done and His Majesty’s Inspectors reported on People’s College as an “excellent Evening Continuation School”. Students were entered for the Board of Education Science and Art and the Royal Society of Art examinations and later for examinations conducted by the National Union of Teachers.


The session 1900/1901 was noteworthy for the fact that by the end of October over 1,000 students had enrolled and it was during this period that electric power was first installed in the College. During the session 1902/1903 a fee of 4/- per session was imposed. This encouraged a more regular attendance and a higher percentage of students attended what are no known as “grouped courses”. A special trade course was introduced which was in many respects similar to the present National Certificate Course in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.


It is interesting to record that at this period centres were awarded a government grant in respect of each student who made at least twenty attendances in each subject taken. Students were, therefore, asked to sign a declaration on their admission card that they would attend at least twenty times in each subject for which they had entered unless prevented by illness.

In 1907 People’s College became a special Commercial and Technical Centre for students who had already completed a course of study in an Evening Continuation School and for pupils who had previously attended a Secondary School. The syllabuses were drafted with a view to linking up with the more advanced work at the University College just as the present technical courses at People’s College lead to more advanced courses at the Nottingham Regional College of Technology.


In 1912, students from People’s College were still taking examinations conducted by the Board of Education, The Royal Society of Arts and the National Union of Teachers, but it was at this time that the examinations of the East Midland Educational Union were being developed.

During the session 1932/1933 National Certificate Courses in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering were first introduced, People’s College being a contributory centre to the University College for the first year of these courses.


Up to the beginning of the Second World War the Institute continued to flourish and a greater number of students registered for grouped courses and entered for the examinations conducted by the East Midland Educational Union and the Royal Society of Arts. During the Second World War there was but little reduction in the volume of work and special courses were arranged for members of H. M. Forces.


At the end of the 1944/1945 session commercial classes were transferred to what is now known as the Clarendon College of Further Education and this session saw the beginning of day release classes for building craft apprentices. In the 1946/1947 session additional day release classes at People’s College were organised for engineering apprentices, juniors in the cinema industry and grocery trade.


There was, however, no accommodation during the day in the main building for this was occupied by pupils of the People’s College Secondary Technical School. It was necessary, therefore, to acquire a number of old chapels, schools and various other premises so that by 1958 classes were being held in seventeen different buildings. At this time there was a total of 2,960 enrolments.


In 1955, plans were approved for the erection of a new College under the shadow of Nottingham Castle, between Castle Road and Maid Marian Way and very near to the centre of Nottingham. The workshop block was completed in September 1958 and the main block, assembly hall and gymnasium in September 1959. The total cost of the building was £475,000 including £79,000 for furniture, apparatus and equipment. The multi-storey block was erected in steel frame with cladding and consists of classrooms, laboratories and drawing offices in the four storeys above the ground floor which is occupied by administration rooms, library, refectory, kitchen and common rooms. A large entrance hall forms the link between the main block and the assembly hall and gymnasium which lie at the south end of the site with a separate external access.


The practical block at the north end of the site provides 18,150 square feet of workshops. It is of unusual design with barrel vault roof and north lights.


The external finishes are mainly brick, natural Westmorland slate and reconstructed Portland stone. In view of the proximity of the buildings to the Castle, the whole design was submitted to the Royal Fine Arts Commission end received the approval of that body.

The move into the new buildings has produced a steady and continuous increase in enrolments and student hours during the past eight years ad there are now 6,000 students attending the College with student hours over 1,350,000. The enrolments during the session 1966/1967 consisted of full-tIme 347, block release 810, part-time day and evening 3,096 and evening only 1,711. The College has a full-time staff of 127, a non-teaching staff of over 90, which includes a Registrar, administrative and maintenance staff, and about 300 part-time lecturers.


It caters for the sciences (including dental technology), mechanical and electrical engineering, building, end general

gtudies in seperate departments. A wide range of craft, technician and general courses is provided, leading in the main to more advanced courses at the Nottingham Regional College of Technology.

Craft courses include those in welding craft practice, mechanical and fabrication engineering practice, motor vehicle mechanics, sheet metalwork, vehicle bodywork, construction plant, electrical craft practice, electrical installations, brickwork, carpentry and joinery, concrete practice, gas fitting, masonry, plumbing, thermal insulation.

There is a developing one year full-time “off-the-job” integrated course of apprentice training which follows the recommendation of the Engineering Industry Training Board. An appropriate course of related academic study is arranged in consultation with employers and is integrated with their practical training.

At the technician level the “G” courses in the Construction, Engineering and Science Departments lead on to the National
Certificate or a wide range of technician courses in these Departments.

In the Science and General Studies Departments there are well established full-time, day release and evening General Certificate of Education courses at ordinary and advanced levels.

Some 3,700 students sit for a wide range of external examinations.

A feature in the development of the College since it moved into its new buildings has been the Increase in the number of students released by their employers to attend day courses. In the session 1966/1967 680 firms granted day release or block release to over 3,900 students and this compares with the 2,000 such students that enrolled at the College during the session 1959/1960 when the new buildings were first occupied and the 334 that enrolled when day release classes were first established during the session 1946/1947.

The rapid development in the work of the College soon produced problems in accommodation which became accentuated by the revised requirements of the technical courses involving additional time in workshops and laboratories.

Consequently, extensions to the College, mainly In the form of workshops and classrooms, were added to the College In September 1966 at a cost of £147000; this included £55,000 for furniture, apparatus and equipment. These extensions have, in the main, provided accommodation for new courses such as those in welding, sheet metalwork, mechanical engineering and motor vehicle technicians which have been transferred from the Nottingham Regional College of Technology.

The College has now in its main building, 22 laboratories, 10 workshops (all well equipped), 10 drawing offices, together witt a visual aids room, specialist and demonstration rooms, classrooms, general office, library, gymnasium, assembly hall (capable of seating an audience of 550), and various departmental staff rooms. It is still necessary, however, to use a number of buildings which are not located on the College campus.

Unfortunately, People’s College and Clarendon College, the other college of further education under the City of Nottingham Authority, both occupy restricted sites. The extensions provided at People’s College have now virtually taken the whole of the remaining land on the College site available for new buildings.

Approval has been given to the provision of a new College of Further Education at Basford in the north eastern sector of the city and work on site has already started. It is anticipated that the first instalment of the new Collage will be ready for occupation in September 1969.

It is proposed to transfer the whole of the Building Department courses and the majority of the General Studies Department courses from People’s College to the College at Basford. These transfers will release at People’s College 10,000 square feet of workshop space and approximately the same amount of general teaching area to meet the ever increasing demands of new courses in Engineering and Science. People’s College will tend, therefore, to develop as an Area College in these technologies.

The College enjoys the good will of industry and is alive to the need to serve industry in the region. The various Advisory Committees, which were first established in 1959, have done much to develop the happy relationship which exists between the Education Authority, People’s College and local industry.

The College will continue to play an ever increasing part in the development of technical education and provide the best possible chance for the young people of Nottingham and district to develop their own talents and contribute to the national well-being.

peoples website 1998
The College Website in 1998

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