Skip to main content

Women Students on Holiday

As many of our Brunel community are off on their holidays, we thought we’d take a look in the University Archives to see what students were up to in their holidays 100 years ago. 


In 1913, a group of students from Saffron Walden College went for a camping trip in the Lake District.  Their trip included climbing the Needle and the Great Gable, as well as rowing on the lakes.  Our female students have always been a determined and progressive bunch, and never seemed to let their gender or restrictive clothing stop them from sports and adventures.

Saffron Walden College was a women’s teacher training college and sister college to Borough Road College, which became part of Brunel.  Its archives are in the University Archives here at Brunel.

Midsummer camp 1913

“The Tribe, 2nd week”

[BFSS/4/9/SWC/Album [temp ref], 1913]

Lake district 1913

“Dr Davies, on Derwentwater” [BFSS/4/9/SWC/Album [temp ref], 1913]

Lake district trip washing 1913 

“Washing Day” [BFSS/4/9/SWC/Album [temp ref], 1913]


Our 19th century students were also adventurous. The University Archives also holds the archives of Maria Grey College, another female teacher-training college which became part of Brunel University London. 

The Maria Grey College Magazine often published articles written by the students when they came back from their adventures, although sadly many of these articles were anonymous.

In 1891 a Maria Grey College alumna decided to spend her summer holidays in Sweden studying the practice of Slöjd. In Swedish Slöjd means craft, it is a system of handicraft based education that is still popular in Scandinavia today. This student was met with considerable opposition to her decision to travel, nevertheless she persisted.

MGC Mag July 1891 Naas 

The Maria Grey College Magazine July, 1891, p 5. [MGC/2/9/1/19]

In 1888 another student travelled to Vienna and on her trip stopped by a local school. The teachers there were shocked that she was travelling alone.

MGC Mag June 1888

The Maria Grey College Magazine, June, 1888, pp 2-6 [MGC/2/9/1/14]

In 1917, a student took a trip around Mesopotamia (now Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey). She took advantage of having a friend living in Muscat (in what is now Oman) to take an extensive tour of the area.

MGC Mag Feb 1917

The Maria Grey College Magazine, February, 1917, pp 6-11. [MGC/2/9/1/44]

Other students visited India (1903), America (1906), Hong Kong (with a day trip into China) (1914), Switzerland (1891), and the Himalayas (1895). 

MGC SYG 1888

Maria Grey College Student Year Photo 1888-1889. [MGC/2/10/1/8]

Many of these locations would be difficult for us to access today, imagine how difficult it must have been over 100 years ago! 

Please visit our webpages to learn more about the students of Saffron Walden College and Maria Grey College.