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Higher education postcard: Swansea Training College

This week's card from Hugh Jones’ postbag takes us to an important place for women’s education in Wales
This article is more than 1 year old

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Greetings from Swansea!

By the time you read this, I’ll be a resident of Swansea, albeit not at the top of this hill like this; and so I’ll tell the tale today of the Swansea Training College.

We start not with a building but with a person – Rose Mary Crawshay (1828-1907). She had married at 18 into the Crawshay family, iron and coal magnates of Merthyr Tydfil, and very rich people indeed.

Between 1847 and 1859 she was kept very busy having five children; in 1860 her husband, Robert Thompson Crawshay, had a stroke which left him deaf.

Rose Mary turned to public life: she joined the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, becoming Vice-President of the Bristol and West of England branch. In 1870 women were permitted to join School Boards (public bodies responsible for education in a district) and Rose Mary joined two: in Merthyr and in Vaynor, a small village to the north of Merthyr. And this interest in education extended beyond governance: in 1872 she was part of the group which helped to found the Swansea Training College.

This was the first women-only teacher training college in Wales – and possibly (I can’t track down when St David’s Lampeter first admitted women!) the first college in Wales to admit women to higher education. Its first enrolment was 38 students, at a site in Swansea city centre. The college moved in 1912 to the building in Townhill, Swansea, shown on the card.

The college thrived in Swansea, and in 1976, in line with government policy to amalgamate tertiary education provision, it was merged with Swansea College of Art and Swansea Technical College to form the West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education. This became the Swansea Institute of Higher Education in 1991 and, in 2008, achieved university status as Swansea Metropolitan University. In 2013 the University was incorporated into the ever expanding institution which is now known as the University of Wales Trinity St David.

The building on the card was used by the University until 2018; it is now being redeveloped as housing.

The card is unusual in having a perforated counterpart. Postcard collecting became an enormously popular pastime in the early twentieth century, and the stub, with a space on the back to record the name and address of the person to whom the card had been sent, would enable a person to keep a track of their postcard-sending. Presumably to track favours, settle scores, and generally be a bit over-thorough about it. This particular card has never been sent.

5 responses to “Higher education postcard: Swansea Training College

  1. Fascinating story, Hugh – thanks for unearthing such an interesting bit of women’s educational history in Wales.

  2. Wonder what the college authorities had to say when the County Borough of Swansea decided to build the largest council estate in Wales adjacent to the site in the 1930s ? Fond personal childhood memories from visiting my grandparents on Pantycelyn Road, which ran from the college across Townhill and gave tenants a spectacular view across Swansea Bay.

  3. My sister went to the College of Art, Swansea early 1970s, but I am not sure which building she went to and I am trying to establish if it was at the old Public Library. I don`t think it was Singleton park which is now a University, or is it the one you are describing. Can you enlighten me please.

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