The Worcester Spirit: Stories from the campus 1946 to 2016

In 1946 the City of Worcester Teacher Training College opened for the first time as an emergency training college to meet the demand for qualified teachers in a post-war Britain.

Initially operating out of three single story Air Ministry buildings with a cohort of 240 demobilised servicemen and women, the college is now one of the fastest growing Universities in the UK with over 10,000 students, internationally recognised research and outstanding world-class facilities.

As part of our 70th anniversary celebrations we wanted to capture the voices and memories of those who have studied, worked and lived here over the past seven decades. The Worcester Spirit is an oral history project conducted by the University of Worcester that explores 70 years of teaching excellence and captures the stories and memories from the campus.



Recent graduates, Lecturers, Governors, Administrative staff and fellows of the University were interviewed for the project.

Including 103 year-old Leslie Broughton, who was one of the very first students on the campus in 1946, and former Miss India and Bollywood actress Swaroop Sampat. 

The interviews have been grouped together into the following themes.

Life on Campus

From jokes and japes to the power of the student voice and the night Hot Chocolate played The Dive, this collection of stories tells the tale of life on campus down the years. 

Anne Morphy – 1960s – Brew Groups & Friends For Life

When Anne first arrived in 1966, she thought the campus wasn’t much to look at, but she soon learnt that it was the people that made Worcester special. Here she talks about her first impressions of Worcester and the legendary Worcester Brew Groups.

Deb Cadman – 1970s – Milk Fights & The Policeman’s Ball 

Deb Cadman came to Worcester to train as a Rural Studies teacher in 1974. Deb lived in ‘digs’ in St Johns and spent a lot of time in the Dive and the Hines building, which was used as a base for students living off campus. 

In this clip Deb talks about the social life at Worcester, from milk fights and the Dive’s sticky floor, to the Policeman’s Ball.

Muff Murfin – 1960s – Putting The Life In To Student Life

Muff Murfin and three school friends from Gosport County Grammar all opted to study at Worcester in 1960.

In this clip Muff talks about life on campus. From motorbike mayhem to hunting squirrels after class, Muff certainly put the life in to student life. 

Tom Wilkes – 1960s – From Hippies to Hot Chocolate

Tom Wilkes started studying at Worcester in 1968. He reckons he got onto the teacher training course at Worcester because he impressed the technology tutors with a picture of a canvas canoe he’d just made.

In this clip, Tom remembers how even hippy freedoms had to be curbed a little when on teaching placement, as well as the legendary occasion when Hot Chocolate played The Dive.

Roger Timbrell – 1960s – Rural Teaching Placements

Roger Timbrell studied at Worcester between 1964 and 1967. In this clip, Roger talks about life as a trainee teacher in the countryside, including living in a pub whilst on placement, and taking the class fishing. 

David Morphy – 1960s – The Student Voice

David came to Worcester from Liverpool to train as a teacher in 1967. He served as Vice President in the Student’s Union and also edited the Henwick Herald. Here he talks about the importance of the student newspaper, hand printed on an old Gestetner machine, and being summoned to the office of the College Principal Ned Peirson.

 Jade Haley – 2010s – The Modern SU 

Jade was the first person in her family to go to university when she came to Worcester to study Psychology in 2013. Despite being initially uncertain about what to expect, she went on to achieve a great deal at Worcester, including serving as President of the Student’s Union. Here she discusses the role of the SU in the 21st century and the gentrification of The Dive.

Jane Finch – 1970s - A Family Affair 

Jane first came to Worcester when her father took up the position of Farm Manager for the then Worcester College. The move to Worcester meant that Jane, aged 17, was uprooted from her childhood home in the Cotswolds and transported to a semi-detached house on the junction of Henwick and Hylton Roads, by the back gates of campus. For the next few years, the campus was Jane’s back garden.

She studied in the college library and later got herself a place at a teacher training college in Kent. Meanwhile her father decided to become a teacher himself, and alongside his role as farm manager, he went to lectures and qualified as a rural studies teacher in 1976. Ironically Jane and John Finch started teaching at Bewdley High School on the same day, both having secured their first teaching posts there.

Jane came to live on campus when her father took up the post of farm manager for the College. Jane remembers campus life in the 1970s – including Misty the sheep dog and Vic & Ron – as well as the moment she and her father started their teaching careers on the same day, at the same school.