A brief history of Balls Park Teacher Training College.

 

The College was opened by Hertfordshire Education Committee in 1947 as a residential training college for women teachers, in the Mansion at Balls Park. During the war years the house had been used as a convalescent home for children suffering from TB. There were initially only 50 students. The Principal was Miss Monica Wingate, sister of Orde Wingate of Chindit fame.

In the centre of the campus stands the Mansion, a building of great architectural interest and beauty, erected by Sir John Harrison in 1640 during the reign of Charles I. The campus is situated in over 100 acres of attractive parkland on the outskirts of the county town of Hertford.

Balls Park in 1800

This view would appear to be of what is now regarded as the rear of the Mansion

By 1957 there were 132 students, accomodated both in the Mansion and and adjacent hostels. In 1958 a plan was drawn up for the expansion of the college to 450 students. New buildings were necessary to accomodate this expansion with the construction of the gymnasium, the laboratory and mathematics block together with the music auditorium and the dining hall. These were officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1962

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Further expansion in the mid sixties saw the assembly hall, craft blocks, the student common room and a cctv studio added to the growing college, by this time student numbers had grown to 650 and male students were admitted for the first time from September 1968.

A new library block and a drama studio was opened in 1972 by HRH The Duchess of Kent.This occasion also marked the 25th anniversary of the college. By this time Miss Wingate had retired and the Principal was Dr Paul Sangster, ably assisted by his diminutive dog, Hamlet.

The first Bachelor of Education students from Balls Park graduated in London in 1969 and in Cambridge in 1971.

By the end of the decade demand for teachers was falling, and in 1979 the college was closed and transferred to the newly formed University of Hertfordshire, (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic) who subsequently transformed it into a business school.

In June 2001 it was sold into private ownership, but leased back to the University until the summer of 2003, when it will close as a public college for good.


nb: The author realises that this is very much a 'potted history' of the college and would welcome any further contributions or corrections to the above.(an ideal opportunity for those main study historians out there ! ) - please e-mail any information to :-webmaster@ballspark.co.uk