History of Deeside College
1952 - 1966
Flintshire Technical College opens its doors to students
From 1952 to 1956, the college buildings gradually covered almost 20 acres. In 1959, the college could cater for some 1,000 full-time students and 7,000 part-time students. However, the first official Department of Education and Science return, made by the first Principal, Dr Lyons, at the time (following Acting Principal Fred Roberts), was made on a postcard to the DES and it was noted there were 357 girls and 459 boys in attendance and 27 staff.
The actual capacity envisioned a future of comprehensive training within a building large enough to cater for the baby boom once that cohort was over the age of 16. In 1956, Sir Miles Thomas opened the college and in his official capacity as Chairman of BOAC, cemented the links that the college would have with the Aviation/Aerospace industry for the next 50 years. Now in 2006 Deeside College supports the Airbus UK apprenticeship scheme, which is probably the largest in the whole of Western Europe.
1966 - 1974
Flintshire College of Technology
Imagine a further situation in the middle sixties of an institution, now called Flintshire College of Technology, wanting to become a college of advanced technology and with aspirations for North East Wales to have a university.
The Robbins report on the expansion of Higher Education in the middle sixties was out. Some of us can remember the University of the Air proposal and the vision of the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, to begin the development of one of the largest universities of the air, now called the Open University. Flintshire College of Technology played its part in this expansion, offering HNDs and GRAD RICs in chemistry, and more advanced qualifications for the manufacturing hinterland of North East Wales.
1974 - 1993
Kelsterton College - North East Wales Institute (NEWI)
Textiles, steel making, steel coating, aeroplane construction and companies like Hawker Siddeley, John Summers, Courtaulds International were household names for Flintshire. Thousands upon thousands of iron and steel operatives crossed the Dee to be trained at the college; metallurgy research grew to satisfy the steel expansion and local government was ready for change.
A new county was formed on local government reorganisation in 1974. The new county of Clwyd - some say an acronym for 'Come Live With Your Dreams' - replaced Wrexham, Denbighshire and Flintshire and was a further manifestation of a new sub-region being created. Its birth pangs happened in a phenomenal fashion and the death throes of the old county revealed itself in a change from Flintshire College to Kelsterton College of Technology. And then, very quickly, the name changed once again to the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education embracing Wrexham Technical College, Cartrefle Teacher Training College, Wrexham College of Art and the Flintshire College.
So 1956, 1966 and 1974 are both the chronological landmarks and moreover, the definitive stages of the development of education and training in the region. Paralleled with this, was the mass expansion of Higher Education, Further Education, comprehensive schools and together, the vision so cherished by Dr Haydn Williams became a reality. Here was in Flintshire, and in Wrexham, the achievement and manifestation of his dreams.
From 1974, the North East Wales Institute expanded under the vision of another great leader in education, Professor Glyn O Phillips who took the institution forward and made it into a significant research based and practice based technological organisation which had a financial turnover equalling a great many universities close by, like Liverpool, Manchester and Bangor.
1993 - 1996
Twenty years later came the next major upheaval and change to local government organisation. The 7 counties of Wales, including Clwyd, were disbanded to create 22 unitary authorities and Flintshire was reborn, but not as an exact twin of the old 'Flintshire'.
This change was a little different, for the new Flintshire was not a reincarnation of the pre 1974 reorganisation, as this time it did not embrace Rhyl or the Northern part of Denbighshire, which it did in the middle sixties and early seventies.
A consequence of this local government reorganisation was the determination to concentrate all Higher Education in Wrexham. This resulted in the disaggregation and consequent formation of Deeside College in 1993 which was enshrined in the legislation of 1992 - the Further and Higher Education Act. The College became a separate independent institution with its own board of governors and having corporation status. A new Principal was appointed, Dr Tony Walker, who served for 3 years until early 1997. The name Deeside College was chosen not just because it was geographically in an identifiable and supported industrial zone called Deeside, but also it was a deliberate departure from the names of the past and presented a greater vision for the sub-region of North East Wales.
During the time 1974 to 1993, Flintshire experienced the almost total collapse of steel making, as a consequence in part of a growing world-wide steel making market on the Pacific Rim and in Eastern Europe. Flintshire also experienced the collapse of its textile industries and the transformation of its aerospace manufacturing; Courtaulds Textiles had gone, Hawker Siddeley came and went and British Aerospace was born and matured into what is now Airbus UK. So, what was the purpose of Deeside College in 1993? What was its mission and how would it handle its new found status of independence?
1996 - 2003
Wil Edmunds joined Deeside College as Principal/Chief Executive in 1997 during a time of great upheaval, following major changes to the funding systems implemented by the Further Education Funding Council for Wales, and an introduction of more change for further education. Deeside College was required to make significant and sometimes intolerable efficiencies and maximise income through increased numbers of students. Considerable investments were made to the students' learning facilities, new stringent financial systems were put into place and a personnel and a finance department was set up. New outreach centres were opened across the county of Flintshire and Deeside College developed partnerships with local primary and secondary schools, libraries and community centres, in order to offer courses at local community venues. Student numbers rapidly increased by over 50%.
The college reinvested its hard earned income on a large scale into the transformation of its buildings and in the building of new enterprises for the community.
The first new enterprise was the building of The Deeside College Sports Stadium which was officially opened on 6 October 1998 by the Rt. Hon. Ron Davies MP, Secretary of State for Wales at that time, and the architect of the National Assembly for Wales. With a full size football pitch and an international running track, the stadium soon became home to the Connah's Quay Nomads Football team and the Deeside Athletics Association, who continue to use the facilities.
In 1999, the recently established Mold Learning Centre was moved from St David's Building, St David's Square in Mold to Terrig House, Chester Street in Mold, which was originally the old police station building. Next to the bus station, this proved to be a popular location and the centre has quickly developed into a thriving community learning venue.
From 2000 to 2002, new learning centres were created in local companies like Airbus UK, Corus Colors, Castle Cement and Merloni Electrodomestici; (formerly Hotpoint/GDA), as part of a series of partnership arrangements which helped employees at all levels access learning, including those working on shift patterns. Deeside College was instrumental in improving the skills of the local workforce through these initiatives and through what is now the largest and most comprehensive work-based training programme in the whole of Wales.
In August 2001, the college's Netcafe opened its doors in Shotton and offered drop-in computer facilities with a café, learndirect centre and classroom areas for short courses.
On 4 June 2003, the Deeside College Centre of Engineering Excellence was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This £8 million pound centre was fully fitted out with the latest high technology equipment for the motor vehicle, aero-engineering, electrical/electronic, fabrication and welding and gas installation fields. Specialist electronic, optronic and avionic equipment was also installed within these new workshops.
2003 - 2009
With extensive partnership links across Wales, the UK and internationally, Deeside College has become a world-class provider of education, training and development and consultancy.
Deeside College draws considerable strength from its ability to provide modern and flexible learning environments. The college is working in partnership with local and national employers, with private training providers, secondary schools and the voluntary sector, to ensure that learning provision meets the needs of the local community and businesses across Wales and Britain.
In 2003, Deeside College had 30,000 enrolments based around its campus in Connah's Quay, its Mold Learning Centre, the Netcafe in Shotton and over 20 learning centres across the local communities of Flintshire.
International consultancy and development work continues and Deeside College has strong links with other educational institutions and business networks in South Africa, USA, Germany and Finland, to name but a few.
2009 - 2010
Following Welsh Assembly Government approval, on 1st August 2009 Deeside College and the nearby Welsh College of Horticulture merged. The new institution, which is one of the largest in Wales and the UK, provides courses for almost 20,000 students each year, employs over 800 staff, and has an annual income approaching £30million.
2010 - present
Following Welsh Assembly Government approval Deeside College and Coleg Llysfasi in Ruthin merged on 1st August 2010. The new institution which is one of the largest in Wales and the UK, provides courses for almost 22,000 students each year, employs over 1000 staff, and has an annual income approaching £40million.
The Deeside College Group now encompasses three colleges: Deeside College, Northop College and Coleg Llysfasi.
- In 1952, Fred Roberts was appointed as 'Acting Principal'
- In 1954, Dr Charles G Lyons, aged 47 took up his post as the first Principal of Flintshire Technical College, with the grand salary of £1,250. He retired in 1970.
- Dr Stan McLintock took over as Principal in 1970, having been in the college since 1954 as Head of Chemistry and Metallurgy.
- In 1975, Professor Dr G O Phillips became the new Executive Principal of the North East Wales Institute.
- Professor Dr G O Phillips stayed as Executive Principal of North East Wales Institute until 1992 and his successor Professor John Williams came in to oversee the development of higher education based in Wrexham.
- Dr Tony Walker was the first Principal of Deeside College in 1993 and he retired late 1996.
- In 1997, Wil Edmunds became Principal and in 2002 and was awarded the OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- David Jones, Deeside College's Principal and Chief Executive, took up his position on 1 September 2004.
Building the college
At 18 years old, Frank Bentley was the first apprentice bricklayer to work on the building. Construction began in 1948. This photograph, taken on 15 April 1951, shows Frank Bentley (left) and Freddy Cooper (right) in the end of the current Principal's corridor at the front of the college building. The builders were Alan and Ellis Edwards; Alan Edwards used to work alongside the lads on the line until well into his 70's. Another apprentice working on the construction of the college was Gordon Ward, who remembers them laying 500 to 700 bricks a day.
Memories of sporting activities
In 1956, the College had one gymnasium and three large undrained fields, although the theatre was also used as a sports hall. By 1961, the scene looked quite different when Alderman Leo Schwarz kicked a football with great gusto to declare 16 acres of playing fields open. Work had already started on a new seven-lane athletics cinder track, costing over £5,000, and this was opened on July 6th 1962 when the college hosted the North Wales AAA Championships.
Sport clubs blossomed, including badminton which was played on the floor of the theatre as well as in the gym and produced two Welsh International players. Another international athlete, the late Brian Woolley, represented Wales in the long jump in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica and in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Before the opening of the athletics track in Wrexham, Flintshire College of Technology regularly hosted county, Wales and British schools championships. Improvements continued and by 1975 there were two soccer pitches, two rugby pitches, a cricket square, four hard court tennis courts, two outdoor netball courts, a ski slope and a Sports Hall, with an outdoor activities centre in Snowdonia.
The Fairey Gannet
The aeroplane, which up until 2003 was sited outside the front of the College, was a Mark 6 Fairey Gannet. During trials in June 1950 on HMS Illustrious, this had become the first turbo-prop aeroplane to land on an aircraft carrier. The Fairey Gannet went into production in 1953 and into operation in 1955 (Lee-on-Solent, HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal). In 1970, Flintshire College of Technology already had four aircraft and bought the surplus Gannet from the Ministry of Defence for £750, to add to its collection./p>
The aircraft was flown from RAF Lossiemouth into Hawarden Airport in 1971 and was then towed to the college using an agricultural tractor! Even with the wings folded they had some difficulty getting it under the bridge at Shotton. Nevertheless it reached Connah's Quay safely and was fully utilised by the Aeronautical Engineering Department for training purposes until 1995, when it was put out to grass to stand on guard at the entrance to the College.
In the summer of 2003, the Fairey Gannet was dismantled by 750 Thorne Squadron, Air Training Corps and taken off to South Yorkshire Air Museum.The college donated the aircraft to the Air Museum for tender loving care and restoration by young air cadets.
For the history of Northop College, click here.
For the history of Coleg Llysfasi, click here.