BCoT’s premises have been a site of learning almost continuously for 160 years, although the College itself can only claim credit for part of that period.
The first educational establishment on our campus was Queen Mary’s School for Boys (also known as Basingstoke Grammar School, Holy Ghost School and the Queen’s Free School at various times during its long history). The school seems to have been established by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, and William, Lord Sandys (of The Vyne), in 1524 in the grounds of the Holy Ghost Church, just north of where Basingstoke railway station is today. The school was closed during the Reformation but reinstated by Queen Mary I in 1556, when it was renamed in her honour.
The school continued on these premises for a further three hundred years until it was decided a new building was required. The school sold some of its land and stocks, given as charitable bequests, to purchase a new site and build the new school. The site at Worting Road (then known as Salisbury Road) was bought for £400 in 1854. A further £2,000 was raised for the construction of the new building and the foundation stone was laid in 1855. Queen Mary’s School remained in Worting Road for 86 years, before moving to new premises in Vyne Road in 1941.
For a few years during the Second World War, the site was not used for educational purposes when the buildings were leased by the Bank of England.
In 1947, the old Worting Road school buildings, Headmaster’s house and grounds (just over 3 acres) were purchased by Hampshire County Council for £9,000.
Local company, Thornycrofts (based on what is now the Morrison’s supermarket site, close to the College), manufactured military and civilian vehicles and required a skilled workforce to do so. Thornycrofts had run their own ‘Works School’ very successfully for many years before the Second World War but, in 1942, Hampshire Education Authority took over the running of classes, forming a new Basingstoke Technical Institute.
Photo: we still have a copy of our first ever prospectus!
In 1947, the Technical Institute moved to the recently purchased Worting Road site, and, in 1954, was re-named Basingstoke Technical College.
The Ministry of Education soon authorised a new college building programme. Work on the Worting Road site began in June 1958 and was officially opened on 30th May 1961.
Hampshire Record office hold photographs of the College’s opening in an album belonging to Mrs Brenda Machin, who attended the opening in her role as Mayor of Andover. The Thornycroft link was acknowledged at that time; Hampshire Records Office also hold documentation relating to a ‘prize fund’ in the name of Sir John Thornycroft, company founder, for students of Basingstoke Technical College between 1961 and 1975.
In 1975, the College invested in an additional teaching block on the site. The College has continued to develop its premises to accommodate an ever broader range of skills and facilities. In 2010, we spent £3 million on renovations around the site. Our STEM Building was a key focus of this renovation as it is housed in what had been one of the original Technical Institute buildings; you wouldn’t know that today, looking at the new automotive garage and showroom, engineering workshops, science labs and animal care rooms.
Photo: an early promotional poster.
Other more recent investments have included the refurbishment of the Restaurant and training kitchens, the largest installation of solar (PV) panels in Basingstoke and a major refurbishment of our Construction skills block and hair and beauty salons in the summer of 2015.
Photo: BCoT staff photographed in 2009, shortly after current Principal, Anthony Bravo, joined us; pictured on the front steps before the outside of the buildings was refurbished.
Acknowledgements to the fascinating Victoria County History website for much of the details given above (University of London, Institute of Historical Research) and to the archives at Hampshire Record Office.