Memories flood back at anniversary reunion
IT HAS been a wartime hospital, an Olympic training camp and the first college in England to train nursery teachers.
Now, Manchester Metropolitan University has been celebrating 100 years of education on its Crewe campus.
The milestone has been marked with music concerts, community arts projects, public lectures and a film show.
And it culminated in a reunion on Friday, which attracted around 100 former students.
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The alumni included friends Lynda Burke, Patricia Johnston, Mary Potts and June Arthurs, who were teenagers when they first arrived on campus in 1956.
They studied at what was then known as Cheshire County Training College, which specialised in teacher training courses.
Lynda, aged 74, who grew up in Nantwich and now lives in Lancaster, said: "Everybody 'lived in' back in those days.
"We stayed in halls at college and it was incredibly restrictive. You had to sign out if you were going to the cinema and be back by 9.55pm.
"Boyfriends weren't allowed to stay overnight. If you brought a male to a college dance, you had to introduce them to the principal."
June, now aged 74, can recall spending time lodging with a family in Crewe during her student days.
She said: "Although we lived in halls for part of the time, we spent at least a term in the community. As we were under 21, the college authorities were responsible for us and they would only allow us to stay with approved landlords.
"But we did have some freedom. We were in charge of our own finances."
June, who still lives in Crewe, specialised in history and art and craft when she was doing her teacher training.
She went on to work at a variety of schools, including Wistaston Green Primary and Betley Primary.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is still well-known for its teacher training programmes and countless graduates have landed jobs in schools across Staffordshire and Cheshire.
But nowadays it also offers a wide variety of other degrees, including contemporary arts, sport and exercise science, business studies and humanities subjects. There are 4,000 students based at Crewe.
The site has been part of the university since 1992 and a string of education institutions have also called it home since the original buildings opened in 1912.
It was initially called Crewe College of Education, with just 26 females and 39 male students in its first intake.
They were charged £10-a-year – a snip compared with today's university tuition fees – and had a maintenance grant of up to £25.
A 'demonstrator' school later opened in Haslington to help students with their training.
The original college had six lecture rooms, an assembly hall, a library and reading room, and rooms for art, handicrafts and practical science. There was also a dining area, a common room and a gym.
After the Second World War broke out, the college was designated as a hospital for war casualties and was due to be closed down in 1941. But the authorities had a change of heart and decided to turn it into a women-only education institution the following year.
Student numbers grew in the post-war years as England faced a national shortage of teachers.
By the late 1960s, it was running BEd degrees and PGCEs and was also accepting male as well as female students.
When Patricia studied there, it was still a women-only college.
The 74-year-old, from Rode Heath, said: "I couldn't believe it when I came back and saw the campus years later. It was so much bigger."
Mary, who lives in Biddulph, specialised in biology and gardening as part of her teacher training.
The 75-year-old said: "They had a cottage garden that we would use.
" I really enjoyed my time at college and have kept in touch with people over the years."
The grounding she got at Crewe stood her in good stead as she spent three decades as a teacher before retiring.
Mary was delighted to return for a celebration tea party in honour of the centenary.
Carola Boehm, chairman of the centenary committee, hopes the campus has a strong future too.
She said: "I came to the university about four years ago and what struck me was the vibrant diversity. So many different institutions have fed into MMU.
"For the centenary, we didn't want to just look at our history.
"We wanted to celebrate our present and future."