Bilston College of Further Education was established in April, 1947 as a direct outcome of a request made by local industry to the Staffordshire Education Committee for increased facilities in vocational education and general education. The scheme was to train the nation's young men and women so that they would not only be skilled and useful workers but also be conscious of their responsibilities and duties as members of the community.

The college in the 1960s.

By the 1950s there were about 1,800 students who were enrolled at the main college in both daytime and evening courses. New buildings were opened in March 1951 by Councillor J. A. Robson, Chairman of the Staffordshire Education Committee, and work began on a new workshop block. The total enrolment was made up of part time day students, evening students and full time students. The day courses were as follows:

Part time day
About four hundred students between the ages of 15 and 18 attended a wide variety of courses including the following:

Production and mechanical engineering. Pre-senior and first year Ordinary National Certificate. Successful students could proceed to either Wednesbury or Wolverhampton Technical Colleges for more advanced courses.

City and Guilds course for operatives in the iron and steel industry, extending over two years and intended for the type of workmen who will not normally take a National Certificate Course.

Course for nursery nurses, which led to service in approved training centres and  after two years to the National Nursery Examination Board Certificate. As well as the professional subjects in which they were examined, students were given a wide programme of further education to assist them in their general development.

Course for Nursing Cadets. A number of girls who were employed in local hospitals attended two days a week which led to Part I of the Preliminary General Nursing Examination. They were given the widest possible opportunity to improve their general education, deepening their culture and fitting themselves for the important duties they had to perform.

Commercial course in shorthand, typing, and book-keeping, concentrating on growth of character and personality.

General education course for younger employees from local industry.

A discussion group.

A group of students off to Paris.

Evening Department. About a thousand students enrolled for evening classes in 1950 and the wide range of subjects offered included the following:

Choral singing, Commercial and Secretarial Courses, Drama, Dressmaking, Electrical Installation, English and English Literature, English for Foreign Students, French, Production and Mechanical Engineering, German, Metalwork, Millinery, Modern Dancing, Music, National and Ballet Dancing, Plastics, Physical Training, Secretarial duties, Shorthand, Soft Furnishings, Teachers' Courses, Typing, and Woodwork.

Classes were normally run from 7 to 9 pm. and continued from September to July. For those under 18, admission was free, except for a shilling registration fee. A small fee was required for over 18s. Evening students were represented on the College Council.

The Art Department, formerly the Bilston County School of Art, developed rapidly with growing numbers of students taking Ministry of Education and other examinations. Subjects included the following:

Dress design and dressmaking, Canework and basketry, Drawing, Painting and illustration leatherwork, Craftwork, Modelling and Pottery, Painting and decorating, Silversmithing, Jewellery and enamelling, Teachers' Art Certificate course, Weaving, Life classes, Commercial art, Plastics, Window display, Fabric printing, and a Tracers' course.

There was also the Teachers' Art Club, which met weekly throughout the year and advice and guidance was given freely by members of the Art staff.

Professor M. C. Jacks distributing awards.

An engineering drawing class.

Most of the students were on day release from their employer. They mostly came from one of the following firms:

Biddulph & Thrift Limited, Bilston Corporation, B.M. Rolling Mills Limited, Bradley & Company Limited, A. Corner, Ductile Steels Limited, S. Edge & Son, Graham Firth Steel Products Limited, GKN,  J. Harper & Company Limited, Hartley & Baldwin Limited, C. & L. Hill Limited, Hill's Patent Glazing Limited, J. Krause Limited, J. B. & S. Lees Limited, Motor Components Limited, Onions Limited, J. Parkes & Company Limited, The Post Office, Quasi-Arc Limited, Rubery Owen & Company Limited, J. Sankey & Son, Limited, C. Silvester, Stewarts & Lloyds Limited, Stourbridge Rolling Mills Limited, Tan Sad Limited, Tarmac Limited, R. Thomas & Baldwin Limited, J. Thompson (Wolverhampton) Limited, Thompson Bros. (Bilston) Limited, Wednesbury Corporation, Wednesbury Tube Company Limited, E. N. Wright Limited, Arnott Young & Company Limited, Burton Road Hospital, Moxley Hospital, and Wordsley Hospital.

Modelling in the Art Department.

A lesson on the shaping machine.

The number of students enrolled on evening courses in the 1940 and early 1950s was as follows:

1946 to 1947  -  450
1947 to 1948  -  909
1948 to 1949  -  1,200
1949 to 1950  -  1,479
1950 to 1951  -  1,330

In the early 1950s the Education Committee members were as follows:

Director of Education: J. H. P. Oxspring
Principal of the College: H. Lamb
Chairman of the Board of Governors: Alderman R. Bilboe
Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors: Lt.-Colonel P. A. Chubb

The Board of Governors:
Alderman E. Allen, Mrs. K. R. M. Beach, Alderman R. D. Clift, Councillor R. D. Gerrard, Mrs. D. D. Joseph, Councillor J. E. Roberts, J. A. Robson, Miss A. A. V. Chettle, Alderman J. W. Pearson, J. Wilson Perry, and W. Sandland

The late 1960s

In the late 1960s the college principal was H. Lamb. The departments, staff and courses were as follows:

Business and General Studies:
Head of Department, F. F. Mobbs, with 5 senior staff members. There were 17 lecturers and 1 laboratory technician.

Professional Business Studies course, including English language, commercial mathematics, principles of accounts, commerce, geography, general principles of English law and German.

National Certificate in Business Studies, including structure of commerce, accounting, principles of English law, economic geography, economic British constitution, central and local government, general history, economics and English, mercantile or commercial law and functions and organisation of the office.

Clerical Studies, including English and general studies, clerical duties, business calculations, geography and accounts.

Audio, Typing and Secretarial Studies including secretarial courses, commercial courses and shorthand typing.

General Studies, including English, English literature, geography, history, mathematics, economics, law, accounts, British government, sociology, physics, chemistry, art, biology, geology and French.

Secretarial and language course, including French, German, Spanish and Russian.

Dramatic art and elocution course, including elocution and speech training.

Courses for teachers of the mentally handicapped.

The languages learning room.

Engineering and Science:

Head of Department, R. A. P. Anderton, with 5 senior staff members. There were 22 lecturers and 6 laboratory technicians.

Courses for school leavers: Pre-apprenticeship course, G.C.E. 'O' level Engineering and G.C.E. 'A' level Engineering.

Day release and part time courses: ONC in engineering, General engineering, Mechanical engineering technicians, Mechanical engineering craft, Certificate in engineering, Iron and steel trades courses, Science laboratory technicians course, City and Guilds Handicraft teachers certificate, Woodwork, Motor vehicle maintenance, Photography, G.C.E. 'A' level Science classes and  G.C.E. 'O' level physics.

Full time course: G.C.E. Science.

An engineering workshop.

Head of Department, F. H. Holmes, with 7 senior staff members. There were 15 lecturers and 2 laboratory technicians.

City and Guilds carpentry and joinery, including machine woodworking.

City and Guilds brickwork, City and Guilds painting and decorating, City and Guilds plumbing, General construction, Construction technicians course, O.N.C. in construction, Builders and plumbers merchants course, Building apprenticeship course and Building crafts.

Home Economics:

Head of Department, Mrs. E. M. Lees, with 2 senior staff members. There were 8 lecturers and 5 domestic technicians.

Home Economics Course, including cookery, English language, general science, Cookery and dress.

Residential Child Care, including home management, cookery, nutrition, first aid, home nursing, social studies, human biology, child welfare and development, art, craft, needlecraft, soft furnishing and English language.

Catering course, including the theory and practice of cookery, kitchen hygiene, catering commodities, calculations and costing.

A catering lesson.

City and Guilds Cookery, City and Guilds Dress, Household cookery, Dressmaking, Hairdressing and Styling, make-up and manicure.

A hairdressing lesson.

Nursery and Nursing:

Lecturer in Charge and Course Tutor, Miss J. M. York. There were also 2 health tutors.

Pre-S.E.N. course, including human anatomy and physiology, hygiene, general science, English language, dress, cookery and nutrition, home management, nursing mathematics, first aid, home nursing, child welfare, liberal studies, art and craft.

A physiology lesson.

Pre-S.R.N. course, including human anatomy and physiology, hygiene, physics, chemistry, biology, dress, cookery, English language and literature, nursing mathematics, music and social studies.

Hospital careers course, includes human anatomy and physiology, hygiene, physics, chemistry, biology, French, English language, mathematics, art and craft.

A nursery training class.

Other courses include: Basic first aid, Occupational first aid, Higher first aid, Advanced first aid, Nursery nursing, Playgroups and the pre-school child, Learning and Growing, Running a Playgroup, Child art, Learning by doing, and Children with problems.

Training teachers of severely sub-normal children.

Social Studies and Art:

Head of Department, I. K. Wymer, with 2 senior staff members. There were also 9 lecturers.

Social Studies courses include the Special tutorial course in G.C.E. Advanced English Literature, and general courses for post G.C.E. and mature students, with lectures in the following subjects: Current affairs, The individual and society, Democracy and participation, Education and the future, Literature, society and human values.

The art studio.

Art and craft courses include a full time general art course, a part time technical illustration course, Understanding art, Commercial art, Painting for pleasure, Painting and drawing from life, Pottery, Siversmithing and jewellery, and Design and decoration in the home.

A silversmithing and jewellery lesson.


The college had an excellent library containing lending and reference books, visual aids and journals. There were over 19,000 books covering all subjects, over 800 filmstrips and film slides, over 200 journals, general, technical and specialised, over 400 wall charts and maps, information concerning careers and educational courses, copies of past examination papers, syllabuses and regulations, and bibliographical information and literature searches.

The library.

In the 1960s the college had around 80 part time lecturers, a registrar, a senior clerk, 10 clerical assistants, a canteen manageress and 4 caretakers.

Return to the
previous page