Memories of college life
1940s & 50s
Walter Severs, a student at Constantine College in the 1940s and 50s wrote this about his time there.
IN 1945 my twin brother, Peter, and myself, Walter Severs, with others, passed the scholarship for the Middlesbrough Technical School.
As we lived in Teesville we came under the administrative control of the North Riding Education Committee and were known as “County Boys” in the school.
The connection with Constantine College was that the technical school used a lot of the facilities in the college.
What are the memories of Constantine? Oddly, perhaps, was the smell of the building - a lovely clean smell that appeared present throughout the place. The numerous large-scale models of ships in the main entrance and throughout the main landings of the upper floors, they were a great source of interest. They were in large glass cases and, clearly, were provided by various shipbuilding companies and were linked to the Constantine family shipping connections.
The facilities available to the technical school were fantastic. A fully equipped drawing office the engineering machine shop, woodwork room, foundry and building construction section. These were in addition to some classrooms.
In the winter of 1947 when buses from Teesville to Middlesbrough were few and far between my twin brother, Peter, and myself walked most of the way to Middlesbrough until a bus came along and picked us up.
In 1948, after starting work at Dorman Long, my part-time studies started and I enrolled in September 1948. The prospectuses were usually out in good time and the appropriate courses selected. Enrolment evening always seemed a bit chaotic but, in reality, they were well organised by Mr Smith, the registrar. Inevitably there were often long queues to see the respective staff and, not least, to pay the Student Union fees. These fees were the only fees the student had to pay - great compared to requirements today.
Discipline at the college was quite strict although students were treat in a mature manner. Homework and attendance was strictly monitored, if I remember correctly three missed lessons meant suspension and a visit to the principal. Time keeping, arrival and leaving was monitored, the principal, Mr D A R Clark was often at the main doors checking on class codes of those who left before the bell rang. Attendance at the further education classes was originally three nights plus a half-day; later it became two nights and one full day.
In the early days of life at Constantine some of the evening class students were much older as the war had interrupted studies.
Examination times came around and the trauma of waiting for the results and wondering whether a year had been wasted was quite daunting. The results of the early years were printed in the Evening Gazette; later years depended on calling the college office or relevant department.
By 1953 the study course had been completed. Over the years the number of students had increased considerably and I a recall a prefabricated type building being built in the Middlesbrough High School boys playground, which I was lectured to in the later years.
After National Service and further studies for professional qualifications I was offered the opportunity to be appointed as a part-time lecturer and this I did for several years. This led to my using some of the same classrooms in Constantine that I had used both at school and as a college student. The continued expansion of classes at Constantine resulted in the use of rooms in the High School also.
My connection with Constantine College and the polytechnic certainly has good memories.