History of Adult Education in Bradford

Researched & Compiled by Colin Sutton. 1985-2004.
Former Lecturer, Centre Head/Area Organiser at Bolton Royd.

Adult Education in Bradford can be traced back to 1825 - a troublesome year in Bradford with the mill workers strikes bringing trade to a halt and fuelling the collapse of several banks thus creating a crisis. Riots occurred at Horsfall's Mill and it was the Horsfall brothers who were later to build Bolton Royd - a house which itself was to play a major role in adult education in later years.

The original Mechanics Institute (in Leeds Road) was the forerunner in organising evening classes for the adult workmen of the town . . .

1825 - Mechanics Institute try evening classes but these were not particularly successful probably due to strike problems in the town.

1832 - Evening classes formed again by Mechanics Institute and were more successful this time.

1850 - Classes for women and girls were started with instruction mainly in the "three r's" - reading, writing and arithmetic. Records state that there were 400 students attending classes in 1851.

1857 - The privately run Female Educational Institute was opened but closed after a short period due to lack of finance.

1875 - The Quaker Adult School was opened.

1876 - Now 1,272 students are attending classes. A privately run Weaving School was opened.

1878 - The Mechanics Institute take over the Weaving School.

1879 - The Mechanics Weaving School became known as the Technical College.

1882 - New Technical College building erected in Great Horton Road and financed from public subscription. Classes moved from the Mechanics Institute to the new and larger site.
Later in 1882, the Fifth School Board opened evening classes at Feversham Street at Bradford Moor and Belle Vue School in Manningham Lane where Mathematics, Geology and Chemistry were offered.

1888 - The first Superintendent of Evening Schools appointed.

1900 - Evening classes opened at Hanson School in Barkerend Road and to be known locally as the 'Hanson Evening Institute'.

Adult Education now established
Adult evening classes continued to held in the Belle Vue school building right from 1882 until the outbreak of war in 1939. It had been called Belle Vue Higher Domestic Institute reflecting the subjects offered. Some of these 'domestic' classes were held a short distance away at Bolton Royd.
A Mrs Heald was in charge of these domestic classes from 1934 to 1939.

Due to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, evening classes did not commence until late autumn. At this time all the domestic classes from Belle Vue were transferred to Bolton which became known as Bolton Royd Higher Domestic Institute with Miss D. Tennant becoming Principal in 1941 until her retirement in 1963.

The Deaf School also used part of the Bolton Royd building for its daytime classes whilst the adult classes continued alongside these.

Trade classes, such as Butchery, were held in part of the building to be followed later by Hairdressing classes which could not be accommodated in the Technical College building at that time.

By 1951 the Deaf School had been moved into its own premises and the Bolton Royd Higher Domestic Institute building was now used exclusively for Adult/Further Education purposes which necessitated extra accommodation and the building of temporary (they actually lasted half a century) annexe buildings.

In 1959 there was a major reorganisation of the Adult/Further Education throughout the City of Bradford whereby the technical work of the Evening Institutes was incorporated into the Technical College. As accommodation was at a premium in the rapidly expanding Technical College some technical classes did continue in the Belle Vue building.

By 1964 the Bolton Royd building was designated Bolton Royd College of Further Education and full-time courses were incorporated into the curriculum again necessitating increased accommodation which was not available on site and so extra accommodation was taken back at Belle Vue school.

In the years that followed Adult Education classes have continued to be run by the College at Bolton Royd, Nutter House in Great Horton and many schools, church halls and community centres across the City to cater for the ever increasing demand.


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