When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Brockenhurst College celebrates centenary
Buy this photo » Students celebrating Brockenhurst College's centenary. Order no: 17122729
IT occupies pride of place in the principal’s office and serves as a daily source of inspiration.
Di Roberts, who has run the award-winning Brockenhurst College since 2006, sits opposite a large photograph of the woman who founded the establishment exactly 100 years ago.
Emma Ward, headmistress of what was initially called the Pupil Teacher Centre, was ahead of her time.
In the days when women were still denied the vote she managed to obtain a university degree and could command an annual salary of £130 – no small sum in 1913.
The original school was based in a rented house and had fewer than 30 pupils, but went from strength to strength under her leadership.
Miss Ward was still at the helm when it became Brockenhurst County School in the 1920s and lived to see its 21st anniversary in 1934. By then, it was already well on its way to becoming the largest grammar school in the country.
“She’s my inspiration,” said Mrs Roberts, who was awarded a CBE in 2011 for services to education.
In 1984 the 27-acre site was renamed Brockenhurst College and continued to carve out a reputation for educational excellence.
Now the establishment known simply as “Brock” is marking its 100th anniversary with a series of events that began yesterday and will continue throughout the next 12 months.
Initial celebrations included a centenary photograph of pupils standing in a “100” formation.
The Hard Brock Cafe sold selected items at 1913 prices and the college also launched a major fundraising appeal aimed at raising the £100,000 needed to build a state-of-the-art centre for the 3,200 students.
Mrs Roberts said: “It’s going to be a really special week. When I spoke to our new intake I reminded them that they’re our centenary students and they were so proud.”
Several families have seen more than one generation taught at the college, while some of the students later returned as staff.
Former pupils include BBC Radio Solent presenter Richard Cartridge, record-breaking cyclist Marguerite Wilson, and actor Guy Henry, whose extensive TV credits include Foyle’s War and Holby City.
In a congratulatory message to the 100-year-old establishment, Guy, 52, praised its “open spaces and open minds”. “Everyone always comments on the wonderful atmosphere at Brock,” said Mrs Roberts.
“Where else can students walk out of their college and encounter ponies and cattle? There’s a very calm atmosphere here that makes it an ideal environment for learning.”
Staff and students can only speculate on what Miss Ward would make of the dramatic changes that have taken place since her day.
A booklet produced to mark the centenary says: “Reports suggest that just the sound of her shoes coming along the corridor was enough to make the pupils stand up straight.”
The atmosphere may be a little less formal than it was in 1913 but the college’s goals remain the same.
“It’s not just about passing exams. It’s about becoming well-rounded adults, good parents and making a positive contribution to society,” said Mrs Roberts.
Comments are closed on this article.