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The Bennett College

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Waterside Echo

Anyone know or remember anything about this college ? W/E.

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vox

Anyone know or remember anything about this college ? W/E.

Bennetts College was (maybe still is) on Melbourne Avenue at Broomhill. The road where The Yorkshire Ripper was arrested.

Without putting too fine a point on it, in the 60's, it's grounds were used regularly as a place for us young mods to take our girlfriends for a "late night walk".

A couple of years later (about 1967) I had a girlfriend who worked at Bennetts College doing clerical work. I wouldn't be sure, but I think she used to file exam papers or something similar.

I think it's one of these two buildings. Probably the one on the left.

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RichardB

Anyone know or remember anything about this college ? W/E.

Postal tuition had been in existence since the 1880s with Wolsey Hall of Oxford being among the first — but this establishment offered academic courses only. At the turn of the century the main providers of engineering training by post were ICS, which started in the United States and expanded its activities to Britain, and the Bennett College of Sheffield. This latter organisation's advertisements used to show a picture of a middle-aged man of overbearing and pontifical appearance leaning over a youth seated at a desk with a book and the caption 'Let me be your father'.

In the 1920s many other correspondence schools sprang up. Those specialising in engineering included The Technological Institute of Great Britain; The National Institute of Engineering; and The British Institute of Engineering Technology. By the 1950s these had amalgamated as part of the Cleaver Hume Organisation and their teaching material was pooled, although each institute continued to offer courses in its own name and gave the impression of each still having a separate existence. The EMI Institute, which offered training in electronics and allied subjects, also joined the Cleaver Hume Organisation. The postal teaching continued until the early 1980s when, being no longer able to compete with local authority technical colleges, the organisation closed down. The Bennett College had faded away in the late 1950s, but ICS still continues in business and offers some engineering courses.

In the 1930s, 40s and 50s there was a great yearning for letters after one's name. Apparently it was perceived this carried some status and implied a high level of education. Correspondence courses were not slow to recognise the commercial possibilities. Those who completed the course were awarded a diploma of associate-membership which included initials after the name.

In the early 1900s there was not the number of textbooks that we have now, so ICS and Bennett College published their own series which were issued as an integral part of the course. These were entitled The ICS (or Bennett) Reference Library and were good quality productions. Some of these publications on technical topics from ICS and Bennett College have much of interest to industrial archaeologists and are worth seeking out. I have volumes on Public Gas Supply, Hydraulic Mains, Water Power, Bridge Building, Public Tramways (covering electrical and civil engineering topics), Waterworks, Dock Engineering. These give comprehensive technical information with quality information on a wide range of subjects as at the period around 1900. Specialist dealers may charge £10-15 and ordinary shops ask about £5. Charity shops sometimes have them at £1 or less.

Sqn Ldr Alan Birt

http://www.glias.org.uk/news/182news.html

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RichardB

Anyone know or remember anything about this college ? W/E.

INGHAM, EDWARD AND H. BUCKLEY [EDITED BY THE PROFESSIONAL STAFF OF THE BENNETT COLLEGE] The Reference Library of The Bennett College 'Physics'

Published by The Bennett College, Sheffield circa 1930 edition not stated. Sheffield circa 1930. Hard back binding in publisher's original brown cloth covers, gilt lettering to spine. Quarto 10'' x 7'' [viii] 228 printed pages of text. Monochrome photographic illustrations, dimensions and drawings. Light rubbing to corners, without any ownership markings and in Very Good condition.

Offered for GBP 7.00 = appr. US$ 10.22 by: Little Stour Books (Member of PBFA) - Book number: 45759

http://www.antiqbook.co.uk/boox/lit/45759.shtml

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Guest galena

Anyone know or remember anything about this college ? W/E.

Thank you so much for posting this query, but above all the advert for the college as I have been trying to confirm a memory that my father 'got his exams' through Benett College. I also had found the information posted by RichardB about the college but that still did not prove to me that the covered his 'field'.

However, the enlarged image shows that they provided courses for GPO Engineers, a career followed by my father from his appointment in 1932 until his untimely death in 1964 'in service' as the Post Office put it. Just before I read this post I was filing the reference about the book for sale on Physics printed by the college and thought I must check in the roof to see if his 'books' are still there. I can remember that they had dark brown covers.

The only other knowledge I have is that my mother considered that my father was very lucky in the 1930s because he retained his position because, as she put it 'He had his exams'.

Galena

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Waterside Echo

Thank you so much for posting this query, but above all the advert for the college as I have been trying to confirm a memory that my father 'got his exams' through Benett College. I also had found the information posted by RichardB about the college but that still did not prove to me that the covered his 'field'.

However, the enlarged image shows that they provided courses for GPO Engineers, a career followed by my father from his appointment in 1932 until his untimely death in 1964 'in service' as the Post Office put it. Just before I read this post I was filing the reference about the book for sale on Physics printed by the college and thought I must check in the roof to see if his 'books' are still there. I can remember that they had dark brown covers.

The only other knowledge I have is that my mother considered that my father was very lucky in the 1930s because he retained his position because, as she put it 'He had his exams'.

Galena

I have a dozen or so copies of The Illustrated Weekly of India dating from 1945. Whilst looking for advertisements of items made in Sheffield [which there are a few] the Bennett College one caught my eye due to its warmth of style and detail, so it seems Mr Bennet had a gift for selling as well. I am glad this post has been a great help to you. Regards, W/E.

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Guest alircd

Reading my Grandfather's diaries from the 1930s, he used to moonlight signing people up for Bennett's courses, on some kind of commission deal, I guess.

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simon.r

A friend gave me one of the Bennet course books recently, on COLOUR.  I was surprised at how well put together it was, with 70+ plates many in (surprise!) colour.  It is undated, but a couple of the sample illustrations of commercial adverts have 1931 in them, so that might give a rough publishing date. I assume the college must have had quite a lot of clients to sustain books like this.  Probably the new technical colleges after the War killed Bennetts and similar places off.  Fitting perhaps that the suggested site of Bennett College on Melbourne Avenue is now part of the Girl's High School campus.  My Mum lived for a good few years on Melbourne Avenue in the Lifestyle sheltered housing complex next door, and we were always having run ins with some of the unspeakable parents who would park up and block the avenue regularly, putting residents lives at risk as ambulances needed full access.  "I paid to send my child here so I'll park where I like" was the best reply I got when I asked one of them to move.  There's never a house brick around when you need one!  

The city archives have a certificate, exam papers and course papers for a guy doing a Building Construction Course in 1948.  Quite how the exam results etc. were recognised by the trade needs some more research.

Another source on industrial history I found (https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Bennett_College) shows adverts for the college dating back to 1916 up to 1960, and from these we can see it was founded in 1900 by a Mr. J H Bennett but has no further details. A couple of adverts confirm the building, which looks substantially the same today.

Bennett College Sheffield.jpg

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Lyn 1

I have a Bennet College book on Commercial Art that once belonged to my uncle c1930s. It has been well used by myself, sons and grandchildren in helping to teach drawing. Great fun.  

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Keith_exS10

 

9ķ 

On 14/12/2017 at 11:52, simon.r said:

A friend gave me one of the Bennet course books recently, on COLOUR.  I was surprised at how well put together it was, with 70+ plates many in (surprise!) colour.  It is undated, but a couple of the sample illustrations of commercial adverts have 1931 in them, so that might give a rough publishing date. I assume the college must have had quite a lot of clients to sustain books like this.  Probably the new technical colleges after the War killed Bennetts and similar places off.  Fitting perhaps that the suggested site of Bennett College on Melbourne Avenue is now part of the Girl's High School campus.  My Mum lived for a good few years on Melbourne Avenue in the Lifestyle sheltered housing complex next door, and we were always having run ins with some of the unspeakable parents who would park up and block the avenue regularly, putting residents lives at risk as ambulances needed full access.  "I paid to send my child here so I'll park where I like" was the best reply I got when I asked one of them to move.  There's never a house brick around when you need one!  

The city archives have a certificate, exam papers and course papers for a guy doing a Building Construction Course in 1948.  Quite how the exam results etc. were recognised by the trade needs some more research.

Another source on industrial history I found (https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Bennett_College) shows adverts for the college dating back to 1916 up to 1960, and from these we can see it was founded in 1900 by a Mr. J H Bennett but has no further details. A couple of adverts confirm the building, which looks substantially the same today.

Bennett College Sheffield.jpg

.  I see there have been several threads here and on the Sheffield Forum re the Bennett College, a subject I know a little about.

Referring back,  RichardB's  post in 2009 taken from a GLIAS post of some ten years earlier is a reasonably  fair overall  historical summary but with which I have two slight minor  problems. The first aim was to show a student had reached a certain standard.   I am not aware that the College ever suggested the use of letters after the name as a result of receiving a diploma. The  second aim was always to prepare  students to take exams set by professional bodies  who are exacting in their standards.  A hard way either way just to get a few letters. The squadron leader's comments are odd considering the armed services have been encouraging the gaining of qualifications at all levels for years before that.

 Mr. J.H. Bennett (properly "The Govenor" but always known to the staff as "The Old Man") was originally a book salesman who realised there was a need and a market for education  resulting in him  originally setting up business in Regent Street. Both my father and his younger brother went to work at the College when they left the old Central Secondary School in the 1920s . In fact their education wasn't over as they were both required to get professional qualifications in their own time  to act as tutors. (Chartered Institute of Secretaries and a degree in Electrical Engineering respectively ). Certainly by 1930 the College had moved to Melbourne Avenue into what was always supposed to have been the vicarage of the local church, which  I have always had doubts about, purely based on the enormous room sizes and that internally it didn't  look domestic. Heating was by hot water radiators only , from a coal boiler in the cellar, no fires or  chimneys about the place rather  suggests office use. No doubt someone will know. 

 The site www.gracesguide .co. uk/bennett college has adverts from 1916 to 1960. In particular the 1935 version is worth study as a concise account of the philosophy, a fair selection of courses and the method of working of the business. This site  also shows that both the photos of J.H.B. and the  front of the building and the  slogan " Let me be your father"   were  only used  rather irregularly  pre WW2 and not for very long. The slogan however was discontinued post WW2  but took a long time dying so the ad men got it right.

. The  delightfully described "overbearing and pontifical old man" by RichardB must have been an early example as it does not appear. from 1916 on.  The later head and shoulders photo was Mr. J.H. Bennett himself. Originally  very Edwardian,  in 1933 it became a more modern one . By WW2 the adverts were slimmed down to more a less a catalogue of courses and the prewar florid prose and his photo diappeared permanently, except for one revival marking 50 years in 1950.  The 1936 advert is interesting in that for the first  time the picture of  his son N.C.J.Bennett also appears, with the slogan changed to "big brother," supposedly the inspiration for George Orwell. I personally don't remember that slogan being used again by the College although RichardB  insists it was, right to the end. I would be delighted to find any examples of the " be your big brother" ad. with Norman Bennets photo which have  so far eluded me.

   I have wondered if this impression of building size in the prewar advert was the cause of a recurring problem.. Several times a year  a student, often from Africa, would arrive with his  case under the belief that it was a residential college with teaching facilities. Father always said he felt sorry for them, having saved the fare, made the journey and then been disappointed. I asked how he dealt with it, the answer being the same as now; point them in the direction of what passed for social services in those days for the state to deal with. I suspect it was the result of not fully reading reading the adverts which are fairly clear in this respect. I see there is still  a recent reference to "grandfather  attending"

BOX's 2009 aerial view post  is correct. Looking closely at it, the drive up the side can be seen as can a narrow covered path continuing in a straight line up the grounds of the neighbouring house. The College bought this property on Westbourne Road after WW2 and the path up to it was.added. It was used  mostly for paper storage, a staff room  for use at lunch time and any other odd purpose. One of its main attractions was an enormous very old mulberry tree on the lower lawn. Berries as big as your thumb, heavy crop and perfect with a drop of cream. Never had any as good since. It had another unsuspected feature which the College would not capitalise on. To the left on the aerial view is what would now be a garage but was and maybe still is is a proper Edwardian  "Motor House" as prescribed in period journals as being necessary to protect  the owners  new car. A set of tall doors into a white tiled building with a pit in the centre. This had a set of  stairs down and was also tiled. There was a large stone slab bench against the house wall. There was a full glass roof which fortunately had survived the blitz and gave maximum light. Exactly as the book said. Peel Street garage knew of its existence and for many months pestered the College to rent it to them as extra work space. The answer was always a firm refusal. It was very useful though. The family car spent enough time over the pit. There was one problem however. The drive sloped down from Westbourne Road and there was no drain in the pit. After a sharp  shower wading about in several inches of water and working overhead lost it's appeal.

   The main College building had three floors and three areas.; the tutors were on the front halves of the two floors, the female clerical staff at the back away from the windows and the typing school up in the attic. This fascinated me. I learned my typing on the grandmother of all  machines. Most of the College work was copy typed  with some dictation and typists were not to be had, hence their  own school in the roof.. Something like twelve or  fifteen desks and typewriters with blank keys. Instead, hanging down from the roof in front was a cloth keyboard diagram about eight feet by six in old money 0 so the girls had to look up to it. It was there for the first  week, and was then  rolled up for the second final  week. I said I thought that was a bit much. Father's response was that they soon learned. The other thing which struck you was that everywhere you looked there were filing cabinets.

There was a formal front entrance, strictly limited to Himself. Everyone else used the side door up the drive. There was a carpeted staircase behind the right hand office, also strictly limited to Himself for going to and from his carpeted office on the first floor front. Everyone else used the uncarpeted wooden floors and central staircase at the side of which was a hand operated lift, goods only. Fraternising was discouraged. I have thought how to describe the regime. Now long gone, I think Dickensian is appropriate. Timekeeping was strictly enforced, 9 hour day, five and a half day week, 8 a.m to midday Saturday.  Father with some twenty years service could contemplate a two week French holiday for three in 1940 on his £5 weekly salary.  (Actually it took another fourteen years to realise) Paid holidays were allowed,  except  that J.H.B. said a week was seven days only.  Consequently stopping on a Friday afternoon would have required a return to work on the morning of the following Saturday week. Not doing so would have counted as being off for eight days. To travel on two Saturdays meant working till midday on the first of them.  Properly dressed at all times. On one occasion he passed by as a typist was halfway up the staff stairs. Catching a glimpse of underskirt she was fired on the spot.  By WW2 commonsense had prevailed.

 The College produced it's own text books with the assistance of Pawson and Brailsford on Norfolk Street who got a  very desirable monthly order for paper and office supplies which continued to the end.  The tutors were organised in sections under a senior and were in general responsible for writing the appropriate textbooks and courses including updating them, quite often without  being credited. My uncle produced the electrical ones; father did the fire, law and  the bookkeeping and accountancy subjects plus  my favourite light reading, "Police Duties". which got him into trouble with the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire over  copyright.  If necessary, any qualified person could be paid to write a specialist course to order. One I remember doing so was the Professor of Spanish at Western Bank.  Later  I acted as go-between for the college in Berkshire and a lady in Bardney, just outside Lincoln. Certainly post WW2  there was also an invisible network of "Outside Tutors" who collected homework, marked and commented on it,  brought it back for any  typing and then posting. My favourite was the Rev. Halliday, Vicar of St Mathias Church somewhere in the Pomona Street  area. Being  in his words able to do his parish duties, cycle round the handful of parishioners and compose his sermon in one long day, for the rest of the week he retired to his fully equipped workshop practicing his trade by making foundry patterns for the local steelworks and the odd  bit of beautiful cabinet making,  plus marking any wood subject  homework for the College.  Anybody suitable could be pressed  into service. A folder dropped in my lap one teatime. "Query for you. Man wants to know about the Great Western's only Pacific." (Railway Engineering student)  With an interest in railways it was no problem. "Do it now" was implicit. Family didn't get paid though. 

  The system was essentially simple; once started the student received the necessary text books,and the first lesson for study, entirely at his own pace. In the fullness of time the  completed answer paper would come back, be marked and recorded, any corrections or comments made and returned with the next lesson. Every effort was made to return marked papers and the next lessons as soon as possible though there was no guaranteed turn round time but  three days was an unofficial aim where possible.  In  the end if the student had made the grade he would be told so and sent a large certificate with the subject on it.  No question of copying at a distance; the secret is a set of questions based on what has gone before, not the same as.  Whether the student then sat any  other qualifying exams for his occupation was up to him. The adverts make the point of preparing a student for that eventuality which may answer simonr's point re recognition. 

    For many years regular business came from  the police courses and the promotion exams; constable to sergeant and sergeant to inspector. The College ultimately set the exams (actually father again) if a  force did not have it's  own system. These were to demonstrate a knowledge of current statute law. For no obvious reason  they got marked and assessed on our dining room table  and the results sent to the police as evidence. Actual promotions when and if were up to them.

Advertising was in the hands of an agency somewhere and must have cost a small fortune. Periodicals  of all kinds seemed to be the usual thing, worldwide but particularly in the U.K.  A copy of every one came to prove  publication,  briefly checked and then  spread about. For years I read every issue of  The Aeromodeller and Model Engineer plus  irregular  copies of various Indian magazines. (One article I remember was the uses of dried cow dung, information I somehow never needed ).The use of a "Dept.No....." in the address was the old dodge  Every advert and  periodical had a number so sorting by the mythical department showed which placements were most effective. 

Later I did discuss the need for the College and whether it served any purpose. My father's comments after many years in the job were that hereabouts we were used to qualifications as having or not having  H.S.C., H.N.D., City and Guilds, B.A., B.Sc. and so on. Out East particularly there were  accepted intermediate grades such as Failed B.A.,  simply because at that time there were so few who got there that anyone who had sat and not passed also  had a value.. As course enrolments kept coming in a lot of people were obviously prepared to put themselves out in their own  time  to gain knowledge and the College was there for the purpose.  One post has suggested that the rise of the Technical College caused the early decline in correspondence  colleges. Not strictly true; the majority of the Bennett College business was from overseas where there were no facilities, which were in truth only gradually being provided. The College needed it's own dedicated large mail van delivering and collecting each  day and my stamp collection grew quite nicely. Before anyone asks I have no idea of weekly, annual and overall totals, 

I have to say that before WW2  Mr. J.H.Bennett as owner was the driving force and  very much present and in command. Little pigs had big ears and father didn't mince his words after hours. As to the Bennett family, his daughter was in London having married Douglas Birkinshaw who is now forgotten but did appear regularly in distant  BBC documentaries among the small group of engineers setting up prewar  trial  television services. Son N.C.J.B. (Norman) had been in the business since about 1921, " helping Dad" per 1936 advert  but I cannot be sure what he did.  Whatever the situation J.H.B. was in charge. As a firm it was a private limited company with the family as directors. One post seems  to find this somehow unusual. May  I suggest a study of the Companies Act and the limitation of liability in case of failure.  Comes the war and Mr. and Mrs Bennett disappear out of trouble into the Old Hall Hotel at Buxton for the duration along with the company somewhat elderly sit up and beg Rolls Royce.  I believe that Mr. Bennett did occasionally put in a brief appearance on Melbourne Avenue.  Norman Bennett went into the R.A.F. as did  my father. My uncle left for pastures new at Scunthorpe Technical College in 1942. For the duration it was a case of ticking over with the senior men and whoever they could get, which was to cause problems after the war. Father had become a senior after some twenty years service and found his post filled by an Eastern European refugee who declined to give way, in spite of government regulations requiring returning servicemen to be given the same or better jobs as they had had previously. For some months things were strained and according to my father people had other priorities. Life was a bit uncertain for us for a while but things gradually improved.

 I never  met Mr J.H.Bennett , in fact my only distant contact was when I rose very early to drive Father to his funeral at Buxton early in 1946.. In attendance were his wife, his son Norman and wife from Sheffield , his daughter Mrs Florence Birkiinshaw and her husband up from London, I think Miss Marguerete Nolan, head of female staff and my father,  head of the tutors, (and repairs, lift, boilers, fire extiguishers and anything Miss Nolan didn't do.) Norman Bennett who  I knew moderatly well then became officially The Governor  and I now have to choose my words carefully. Tactfully put he was not like his father, not much get up and go so to speak, rather more your carry on as before sort of type. Nice enough personally though I found. Mrs Bennett seems not  to have been a director and spent the rest of her days at Buxton. To have someone on hand to sign cheques and so on Miss Nolan was elevated to the Board. The firm's accountant Councillor Oliver Holmes, sometime Lord Mayor was also invited  on the Board. Life carried on and then my father was also offered a seat on the Board. My impression was that Norman Bennett then became something of a figurehead. No photos or slogans in the adverts that I have seen.......For the record Norman  only  reigned till his death in mid 1955. In effect then the three locals took over right to the end with Oliver Holmes in the chair and I believe Mrs Birkinshaw was still connected at a distance. Someone has suggested some sort of tie up with The International Correspondence School Certainly the I.C.S was watched to see what they were doing and that was all. So far as the  College went they were independent and stood on their  own. Mentioning I.C.S. or putting an 's' after Bennett would incur extreme displeasure.

Somewhere in the early 1950s it was decided that there should be one or two overseas sales promotional  tours to look into local needs and educational conditions and maybe drum up trade. This brought to light somthing I had never heard of, the existence of representatives of the College in the central African countries, (and maybe elsewhere.) To this end Oliver Holmes and father would go and in time cross the full width from Kenya to Nigeria as they still were. This was at a time when talk of independence was just beginning. Unknown local reps. would run a publicity campaign in the month or so  before their arrival, organise gatherings  arrange car hire and all else. Photographs would be needed to be sent out for the posters. A photographer was engaged  to take  father at his desk and came with a bag of spectacles, hats , caps, false beards and the Lord knows what else. Father was allowed to hold his own pipe, point with  it, suck it and do ùwhatever. Ultimately several poses were chosen, the final one being him  seated, full face as Director of Studies,  looking over the top of a pair of half glasses.  So get on with the organising. All went well till someone pointed out the Africans would be looking for a man with half glasses coming off the aircraft, as per photograph, except that he didn't  wear glasses. Panic.  Mother and I  knew he had difficulty reading, a family  failing but he wouldn't admit it. A quick word to the family optician, Wraggs at Rustlings Road end who when father went in a rush  for glasses with plain lenses, contrived to test his eyes, get lenses made and fitted him out as per advertising photos.We had tried for years to do just that. .

In summer the two of them went on the first trip, two weeks as were all the others. For practical reasons I had a 'VW Beetle which father disliked and thoroughly disapproved of. To his horror one was waiting for him to drive round Africa. It performed well for them but still only got grudging acceptance. No problems weatherwise. On his return he had obviously looked into future developments particularly after the probable independence and was not very  optimistic.. Later in November the pair of them went to the West Indies and then the Bahamas. That apparently went reasonably well but a crafty stopover in New York had been arranged. Disaster.. Arriving in light suits for warm places, they landed in a blizzard. I enquired what had they done then. Got a taxi to the nearest store, bought a heavy coat each and booked the next flight home. It was perhaps tactless of me to suggest that perhaps they should have looked up  November weather in New York on one of their courses before they started. Not well received. Father  later did two more solo trips to Africa with no more positive results. On one trip he tacked his holiday on the end so he and my mother could have a week in Rome in the hottest month of the year. Not a good idea and again nothing very promising from Africa either.

On a visit back home about 1959 father casually dropped it out that the business was being sold to the Cleaver Hume Press, technical book sellers. Jobs had been offered to many of them, including the female staff,  who might wish to go. Most didn't . That part of Berkshire was notoriously expensive even before the advent of the M4. When that was built by Newbury it it got worse. Technically from here on it is a bit of non-Sheffield history but there isn't  much of it.

One post uses the expression of it fading away which is a slight over-simplification. It left the city  The new location was Aldermaston Court, a major country estate which had however sold off a large part of it's land to The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment ;  C.N.D. marches to and from and all that. Fortunately that was well away and the College staff still had some glorious views over the front grounds. Ultimately father decided to go to do the same job as did his secretary. Not a nice time as the old college had to be kept going while van loads of office equipment and numerous filing cabinets were shipped out. Concurrently the new college was set up, local staff were sought ( not easy; all the locals worked for A.W.R.E.) and the business was transferred gradually down south. Ultimately it was up and running. Father and his secretary ran the whole thing much as usual.  Not surprisingly the other two directors didn't move and all Bennett family connection ended but the name carried on.

One change which I know happened was  that the Cleaver Hume advertising agency took on the College account.  I met the new man but the name meant nothing. In passing l mentioned that I found  the then current slogan "Drinka Pinta Milka Day" irritating. Not well received . "That's one of mine"  so obviously they were using a major agency but whether that made any difference to the College business never became obvious to me.

The moving spirit now was Joe Cleaver, who lived in the New Forest and spent much  time in  his empire which he was then expanding.  Gentlemen in those days  wore big belted  coats and trilby hats.  Once a month he would pickup father from Aldermaston and head for the London office in the Porsche, foot to the floor fast lane driving. And back again in the afternoon. Speed on four or two wheels  was not father's thing. I asked him what he thought of the journey. Apparently he pulled his belt up, pulled his hat  down, slumped down and shut his his eyes till they reached London. That sounded about right.

.Unexpectedly after about three years Macmillan made overtures to Cleaver Hume and took them over. A company Macmillan-Cleaver was proposed but never materialised  and the various parts srill carried on as before. By now father had reached sixty five and there was some pushing at at a higher level for him to go. He had a trick up his sleeve; there had been machinations back in Sheffield regarding his pension as a director which he had borrowed on for the move south so he owed them money ( Damn silly thing to do and he should have known better) He had a contract which kept him in work till seventy to repay it. Counsel's  opinion was sought but there was no way round so he stayed on.  I asked who had drawn up the contract. "I did"  I might have guessed. So finally at Christmas 1971 at six months short he got the tea service, six months pay, told he could have six months holiday and then don't  bother to come back.

The College continued on and it gets a bit vague. Clever- Hume Press website is there but has nothing on it. Father settled down for eighteen months, went shopping one evening, sat in his chair and quietly died. The last time I met Joe Cleaver and his wife was at Reading Crematorium for  the funeral, still full of life. Ten years later the College was closed,  for one or possibly two reasons. I do believe that learning by post was a dying business by the 1970's. The other may have had an effect. In 1982 Joe Cleaver fired his handyman and his wife for generally bad behaviour. This resulted in the man's return with two others and the murder of Joe and the other four in the house and the torching   of the property .  In court three life sentences were handed down. To any one thinking about looking it up, don't bother. It's  grim reading. It may be a curious coincidence but this and the closure of Cleaver Hume  and the Bennett College all occurred not long apart. I was glad father didn't see it.

Ending on a brighter note, still in Sheffield,  atitudes post-war changed. The directors had carpeted floors  but the prohibition on the use of the front  door and carpeted stairs still stood.  Other than that things were easier although the typing school was still needed. No clocking in, timekeeping always was the province of the section heads to enforce. Hours had been shortened to a civilsed 9 a.m. start. On occasion my father decided things were getting a bit lax, so turned up early and told each individual they were late. The last girl came up the drive about twenty minutes late. " You're late" " Yes aren't I" , walking straight past him   Father decided there was no answer to that. I pondered what The Old Man would have done. 

The odd thing which struck me over the years was that there never was an official oddjob man. Somehow father seemed to have time to step in. Fire extinguishers require regular checks; that being in one his courses in his early career,   father kept it to the end. Actually this was vitally important in an old building with wood floors and furniture plus several tons of paper about the place. The College had a no smoking rule for obvious reasons years before the recent government orders.The day an extinguisher  malfunctioned and he came home with white foam all over a dark suit took us some time to forget.

As the registered keyholder, father was always on call. Late one evening we were roused by a young policeman who had seen a light on and would he come. Getting dressed  father sent the bobby back on his bicycle to watch while he got the car out out. Ultimately they met up in Melbourne Avenue  and the bobby pointed out the light. Father we understood took pleasure in pointing out that the light was actually on in the building next door. Many years later they might have found the Yorkshire Ripper instead. 

One thing which happened in the early post-war years was  a tramp ringing the bell asking for a hand out. Naturally father was called in in the best Pass-it-up-the -line  tradition and a small sum changed hands. After this had been repeated a few times he said so to  the next one to come out of curiosity. He was told that the gatepost had the tramps symbol for being a good touch and had it pointed out  to him. By the end of the  day it was gone and the visits stopped. (Google tramps gate signs and see)

Coal for the boiler came in sacks by the lorryload and on one occasion a lorry was spotted going down the drive with some still on  and Father in undignified hot pursuit. And I didn't  see it   After that he personally stood in the road and counted them off.  The coal merchant  shall remain nameless. To me this was wrong but as I expected it had always been like that, so what?.There was an efficient educational system but all the day to day running details were left to somebody,  but who. 

As one who lived on the edge of  correspondence education, I think the peak was between the wars with a gradual decline from about the mid 1950's.but the demise took longer than is generally thought. Pity there is so little archive material about. I never came across any formal statistics and when the business shifted down to Berkshire there was a fair clearout of older material. For those who would like to know more  I can only say "So  would I".

Overall I think the Bennett College served it's  purpose for as long as it was needed and now  has passed into history, as has my late father's response to an expression not now in use. When arranging a meetimg, anyone saying " I will meet you at your convenience " got his stock answer.  "No no.   I use my office, there's  more room". . 

 

 

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