Wiltshire College and its precursors

on Wednesday, 07 October 2015. Posted in Lackham

Wiltshire College started life in 2000 with the amalgamation of three separate colleges: the Technical Colleges at Chippenham and Trowbridge and the Agricultural College at Lackham. In January 2008 Salisbury College merged with Wiltshire College to form the Wiltshire College of today. Each of these Colleges had their own history.

The history of further educating in Wiltshire goes back to the late nineteenth century:

"The last two decades of the 19th century were marked by a steadily increasing demand for scientific and technical education. When the county technical education committee was first formed in 1891 there were almost no science classes in the county"

With the exception of one of the precursor Colleges, Salisbury School of Art.

This school began in an art gallery and was taken over by the Salisbury Corporation in 1894. By 1907 there was also a School of Cookery there. In 1927 the school became the City of Salisbury School of Art, with classes in fine and applied arts and with special evening classes for those engaged in industry. By 1935 it was known as the City of Salisbury School of Art & Crafts. In the 1960s it moved to a new site as Salisbury College of Art and Design and in 1992 merged with Salisbury College of Technology, on the same site, to become Salisbury College. Salisbury College of Technology was formed, as were so many Colleges nationwide, in 1947-8 and by 1951 it had 4 out-centres in its region.

The same period saw the establishment of Trowbridge Technical College, which was apparently a development of the "existing technical institutions". One, at least, of these was in existence in the 1880's. The local provision became Trowbridge College in 1993, after the re-organization of tertiary education in that year made further education colleges independent.

Chippenham College has a slightly longer pedigree: in 1891 a scheme was set up to provide technical education in the local area and the foundation stone of the main buildings at Chippenham campus was laid in 1899. At one time it housed the Chippenham Toy Library "where the toys hired out were actually made by students from the college". It became Chippenham College in 1993.

Agricultural education, as might be expected in such a rural county, has an even longer history. The College of Agriculture at Downton was founded in 1879, the second in England. It specialised in Hampshire Down sheep, experimenting with flax and sorghum crops and soil chemistry and the discovery of the agricultural value of basic slag is attributed to it.  Full time provision lapsed towards the end of the century with only itinerant 'schools' of butter-making, cheese making, farriery, bee-culture and poultry-keeping. Even this provision gradually disappeared. In November 1945 the County Council purchased the Lackham estate with a view to turning it into the Wiltshire Farm Institute, with a 60% grant from the War Agricultural Committee, but this was on the understanding that the Committee would use Lackham to run its own training courses for de¬¨mobilised servicemen for the next three to five years. So it was 1950 before Lackham became the Wiltshire School of Agriculture, then Lackham College in 1993.

Tony Pratt, Lackham historian (2011)

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