World War Two at St Paul’s College in Cheltenham

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Our history

The University of Gloucestershire has a long history as a teacher training college, stretching back to 1847 when it was first established as Cheltenham Training College in St Paul’s. In a series of blog posts, we explore our teacher training history using the University’s Special Collections and Archives. Follow them on Twitter.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, both St Paul’s college (now Francis Close Hall campus) and St Mary’s college (now Park campus) were dispersed. St Mary’s students were evacuated to hotels in Llandrindod Wells in Wales but moved back not long after in 1940. In December of the same year, they experienced bomb damage to the Fullwood residential block. Luckily, nobody was hurt and student life continued.

The area of St Paul’s suffered more frequent air-raids but the college escaped with only minor damage such as broken glass. As with St Mary’s, the college was requisitioned  and evacuated for a time and students took up placements at St John’s in York, or Saltley in Birmingham (as in World War One) or Culham in Oxfordshire.

In November 1940, the St Paul’s College Platoon of the 1st Gloucestershire Battalion Home Guard had been formed. The Commanding Officer was named Reg Riley. The Home Guard was active at the college and in the town centre and surrounding areas. As with St Mary’s college, life carried on at St Paul’s, albeit with a smaller number of students.

Sixty-three students were killed in World War Two.

» Click here to read about life during World War One at St Paul’s College

Tom Brunsdon is a Technician Demonstrator for the School of Education. Do you have memories you would like to share about your teacher training days in Cheltenham? If so, get in touch with Tom by email.