Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Fresher’s Week in 1957

It’s September 1957 and Alice has returned to Bedford College of Physical Education for the start of her third and final year.  As a Senior Student she has some responsibility for welcoming freshers and for acting as ‘grandmother’ to two new students, one of whom has arrived from Nigeria on a Commonwealth Teacher Training Bursary Scheme and is finding the British climate very cold.

All meals for students and staff were provided by the College and Alice expresses some disapproval with arrangements in the new dining room and kitchen which has been built on the site of the old gymnasium: a formal ‘high table’ (for the most senior tutors or important guests) has been introduced and Alice finds the food coming out of the kitchen is cold and there is not enough to eat.  No doubt these problems were short-lived as the College rushed to finish the building prior to the start of the term and domestic staff settled into new ways of working.  The new dining room made it possible for the whole College to dine together instead of being split over three separate dining rooms in Nos. 3, 21 and 37 Lansdowne Road.

Alice makes reference to clinic starting in the autumn term and that she has two schoolgirls as ‘patients’.  It was part of the curriculum for students to learn and practice school remedial exercises to alleviate or correct a range of conditions including asthma and poor posture. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Demonstrations and the long wait for exam results, 30 June 1957

This month Alice spends a lot of time writing to her parents despite being very busy with taking exams and preparing for and performing in multiple demonstrations. Alice is in good spirits as she is excited for the annual College Camp in July and subsequently returning home. In this letter, Alice has written only to her mother who is camping in Wiltshire and was unable to come to her gymnastics demonstration.
Alice talks of the gymnastics demonstration attended by her father and aunt saying she has left instructions for her father to explain the programme to her mother once she returns home. During the demonstrations (she participated in two) the temperature is reportedly over 80°F; gymnastics at that temperature must have been unbearable for them!

Pictured below is the Gymnastics programme from the Archive. It shows that shape and pattern are the pre-eminent factors for this year as with the three thematic approaches of body shape, rope work, and pushing and pulling with asymmetry and symmetry.

The swimming demonstration took place on 29 June and Alice believes the performance was one of the most successful in recent years. However, she admits a slight faux par on her part - during a pairs diving sequence she misjudged her footing and went crashing into the water – “with a rather large splash”. Although accidental she was fearful of what the staff may think but looking up she was pleased to see they had found the funny side of the mishap.

Demonstrations aside, Alice must wait for her Biology and English exam results, commenting that the Biology exam was extremely hard and so believes she will not get a distinction.
Alice closes her letter wondering what she could do for work over the summer, hoping to attend a friend’s birthday party on the way to camp, and asks her mother to send on a few camp essentials.

BPEA OSA 5/6 Programmme for Demonstration Day 1957

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Specs, swimming and an eclipse, 19 May 1957

Alice writes to her parents a fair amount in May 1957. Alice thanks her parents for the gift of spikes and is brimming with anticipation to meet a mystery person referred to as ‘Mr. Baker - whole 7.’ We are unsure of who this Mr Baker may be but believe she is referencing a letter from her parents. She goes on to say that she regrets she will be unable to visit home for a special ‘do’ as her schedule is very demanding.
In previous letters this month Alice has had her eyes tested and now she addresses the fact that she has to wear glasses. She’s not particularly thrilled with her new specs as she refers to herself as an owl and comments on them being uncomfortable and sitting awkwardly on her nose.

Her week ahead is jam packed but she found the time on Monday evening to view an eclipse from a window sill. Alice has an extra gymnastics practice on Wednesday evening and a swimming ‘do’ where she participates in the floating formation section.

In the coming week she will be visiting schools as part of her teaching placement, and chairing her first meeting at one of the Hertfordshire colleges in her capacity as Midland T. C. C. U representative. The Teaching Colleges’ Christian Union is an inter-varsity group where Alice was a regional representative. Pictured is an image of the termly supplement circulated to members, where it discusses prayers for the summer term, Christian teachers, the classroom and behaving in a Christian manner. Alice states that she is hosting tea that afternoon with two people she met at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick.

BPEA PP 1/4/1

Friday, 21 April 2017

April 1957

April 1957

Alice seems to be busy during April 1957 as there is only one letter to her parents lodged in the Bedford Physical Education Archive for that month.  The letter is sent from The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick where she is at a Christian Conference and appears to be part of the Executive Committee as she is attending a meeting which is going to last all day.

She is very taken with the Anglican Evangelist Rev. Dick Rees who is one of the speakers and also a Mr Aldis and Major Batt whom she says are ‘both very helpful, inspiring Christian men’

On a lighter note there seems to be evening entertainment where some of the groups have put on skits, Bedford College of Physical Education have dressed in shorts and gone barefoot  ‘and took the mickey out of various people who had tried to do the same to us’  

April 1957 seems to have been a very cold month and Alice is pleased she had taken her winter clothes with her but has still managed to get a cold.  Although she has obviously enjoyed her stay she is tired and is suffering from ‘spiritual indigestion’ but feels it has been a lovely preparation for Easter.

Programme from 1957 Rally