Loughborough Technical College’s short-lived eggs-periment

19 February 2016

In the autumn of 1918, not long before the end of the Great War, a new evening course was introduced at the Loughborough Technical College. The College magazine The Limit announced, rather grandly, ‘the Poultry Department of the Technical College [is] waiting to receive us with open arms … for not every town, or city, can boast a Technical Institution of such multifarious branches as our own’. The Limit couldn’t resist a little more purple prose: ‘the latest chick hatched by the College Hen is the Poultry Department, now in its infancy, but expected to grow like the proverbial mushroom, or, as one might well say, like the Loughborough Technical College itself.’

With the end of the war special training courses and financial aid were available to returning ex-servicemen – the first Engineering Diploma students at Loughborough came on the Government O-13 scheme – and it is possible that poultry production might also have been seen as an option for returning Tommies. The new course in ‘Utility Poultry Keeping’ was to be taught by Miss I Hodson who would be paid five shillings an hour. We do not have any details of who signed up for Utility Poultry Keeping but there were apparently thirteen students registered in December 1918. Classes took place from 7.30-9.30 pm in the College and if enough people applied, a day course would also be introduced with lectures at the College and not less than three hours a day hands-on at the College Poultry Farm in Park Road. Instruction in rabbit and pig-keeping was also on offer. The fee for day students would be one guinea per term.

On the first Saturday of December 1918 a prize pet show was held by the  Junior Day Technical Department for Boys (later known as the Junior College and subsequently as Loughborough College School), which was then housed in the main College buildings on Ashby Road. The show took place in the College laboratories and excited much interest for it included classes for Utility and Prize Poultry, to be judged by Miss Hodson, and ‘the exhibit of the College Poultry Farm including a cat and kittens.’ It was also reported that that ‘at the Hucknall Poultry Show a pullet and a cockerel from the College Poultry Farm were highly commended and Miss Hodson is highly delighted.’ The following year the Junior College Craft Competition was to build a dry food hopper for the Poultry House.

Over the next two years advertisements for the Poultry Department appeared in The Limit, listing various breeds of chickens, ducks and ‘Utility Rabbits’, and Miss Hodson’s annual salary was increased. However, in the autumn of 1920 the College workshops ceased to be funded by the Ministry of Munitions and became the responsibility of the County Council, and by April 1921 the College Poultry Farm, its birds and equipment had all been sold.

Jenny Clark, Loughborough University Archives

Loughborough’s modern-day University continues the tradition of ‘multifarious branches’ of interest and you can read here about the Crop Club led by Dr Rose Deakin and the University’s Fruit Routes initiative.