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Goldsmiths satire on a Victory Dinner- 1924 and the League of Nations

Christmas postcard designed by Goldsmiths Art School student Eric Fraser celebrating the purpose of the League of Nations in circa 1924. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

When Goldsmiths’ College decided to host a Victory Dinner in 1924 as an act of remembrance for the Great War of 1914-18, those who had lived through it embraced the occasion with gentle satire.

The Victory Menu for 15th November, four days after Armistice Day, was designed to mock the forms and documents that had been turning education in the post war period into a bureaucracy.

It became ‘Circular 1311’, and ‘Form 99 Pen T.’

Victory Menu for dinner at Goldsmiths 15th November 1924. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

There was choice of the main dish: ‘Pensioned Dover Soles, Fried- according to Form 60, Act 1918,’ or ‘Super Saddle of Annuation Mutton with Board of Education Jelly.’

For a side order, the following was on offer and something of a limited choice: ‘Dished – Whitehall Potatoes and Caulage Flower with Raymont sauce.’

The reference to ‘Raymont’ was the name of the second Warden of the college Professor Tommy Raymont.

For dessert, another choice on the menu:

‘Tart of Apples, From the Tree of Knowledge with cream that Nestlés bonny babies

Fruits of the Warden’s Victory

Gorgonzola with Odour of Sanctity

Coffee, Black, White or Red-Tape’

The menu is tailed off with ‘Dainty Drinks and Glorious Gargles as served to the law officers of the Treasury. Each teacher’s pink form should be filled with the above before Superannuation.’

It is the signatures on the other side of the menu that makes this event rather resonant and poignant.

The autographs are by ‘lost to history’ figures in the story of Goldsmiths: F H Cecil Brock, Harry E. J. Curzon, Frederick Marriott, Arthur H R Huggett, Edwin S F Ridout, Joseph Kay, and Graham T. White.

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Frederick Marriott- the first headmaster of Goldsmiths’ Art School from 1891 to 1925

Rue Gubernatis, Nice, Etching by Frederick Marriott. Image: Goldsmiths Art Collection.

It is not widely known that the teaching of Art at Goldsmiths predates the beginning of the life of the College as part of the University of London in 1905.

‘Studio’ Magazine profiled the Goldsmiths’ College Art School in 1918 and described Marriott as ‘the well-known painter, gesso-worker, and engraver.

The Art School started with the creation of the Goldsmiths Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891, and its first head teacher was an artist friend of the famous writer Arnold Bennett.

Like Bennett, Frederick Marriott was born in the potteries in Stoke on Trent in 1860.

His father was an engine fitter.

He became a respected painter and etcher of landscapes, architectural subjects and portraits.

He lived most of his life, like many other Goldsmiths’ artists and teachers, in Chelsea.

His address for nearly 40 years was 6A Netherton Grove, Chelsea, a quiet road bordering St Stephen’s hospital, entered and exited only by the Fulham Road,  and a stone’s throw from the working class slum terraces of Slaidburn Street and the World’s End.

Venice by Night, a colour etching by Frederick Marriott. Image: Barewall Studio.

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The first overseas students at Goldsmiths- two young men from Egypt

Two Egyptian students studying to be teachers at Goldsmiths between 1907-9. Image: Goldsmith, University of London archives. Back row second from the right and middle row standing at centre.

They were apparently the first overseas students to study at University of London, Goldsmiths’ College, as it was then calling itself.

They were two young Egyptian men who enrolled on the two year training certificate for qualification as a teacher between 1907 and 1909.

The spelling of their names varies in documentation: Osman Fareed (or Farid) and Mohommet (or Mohammed) Subhi.

Mr Fareed appears to be standing in the middle of the second row.

Mr Subhi second from the right standing at the back.

They had all the appearance of young Edwardian gentlemen like their fellow students.

Mr Subhi sports the traditional pocket-watch with its chain visible on the outside of his waistcoat.

Mr Fareed’s waistcoat is more colourfully patterned, despite the black and white nature of the image.

His moustache has gone by the time he features in the College first Rugby XV a year later in 1908.

Osman Fareed from Egypt, arms crossed, sitting in the second row third from the right by the side of the team captain who is holding ball. Image: Goldsmiths, University London archive.

The Egyptian students were among the few trainee teachers paying private fees.

Most of students in ‘The Training Department’ from Britain were sponsored by bursaries provided by county education authorities anxious to promote and fund the recruitment of qualified teachers in their expanding local authority schools at Elementary and Secondary level.

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The Artesian Well of Contemporary Art- Laurie Grove Baths

Laurie Grove Baths. Acquired by Goldsmiths, University of London in 1991 and converted into Art studios and teaching spaces. Image: Tim Crook

For decades it was a common sight- the morning ritual of crocodile processions of school children carrying a towel and their swimming costume to and from the Childeric Primary and Haberdasher Aske’s Grammar schools.

Distinctive blue and white glazed tiling. Image: Tim Crook

There would be a teacher at the front and a teacher at the back.

They would be on their way to the Laurie Grove baths.

The classes would snake up and down the New Cross Road.

The Childeric children would be carefully escorted while crossing Lewisham Way by the New Cross Super Kinema from 1925. It changed names over the decades eventually to ‘The Gaumont’ before becoming The Venue that we know today.

Trams and traffic would be held up as they crossed by the famous Marquis of Granby pub, a landmark coaching inn on the Dover Road through the ages.

When the pupils were hoping to gain their British Amateur Swimming Association gold, silver and bronze medal awards for life-saving their towels would also wrap around a pair of pyjamas.

That’s because the awards required swimmers to do a specified number of lengths in their pyjamas while carrying a brick at the same time, which was the equivalent of pulling and swimming with a small child.

And the brick would be provided to the children swimmers by the swimming pool.

Bronze personal survival medal issued by Amateur Swimming Association in 1969.

Academic Dr. Gareth Stanton first started lecturing at Goldsmiths when the baths were still open for business.

He recalled ‘that the pyjamas were also required for the silver and gold badges not simply to simulate swimming fully clothed but also because by inflating them when wet and tying the leg ends you made a temporary life raft of sorts.’

‘Later in life, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I remember photos of Afghan Mujahideen crossing rivers on goat stomachs similarly inflated. The images took me back, madeleine-like, to early school swimming lessons…’

Studios for art students at Goldsmiths in the converted swimming pools at Laurie Grove baths. Image: Tim Crook.

The memories of childhood swimming at Laurie Grove would be varied.

Some would recoil from the pungent smell of chlorine and the slimy feel of wet changing cubicle floors, and the echoing seagull style squalls of scores of children not exactly at play.

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The George Wood Theatre- prayers, pageants and performances

Goldsmiths’ College staff and students from 1933 in front of the former Royal Naval School Chapel before its conversion into a theatre in 1964. Woman’s Vice Principal Caroline Graveson and then Warden Arthur Edis Dean are first and second left seated front row. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London.

The George Wood Theatre has been the site of prayers, pageants and performances since the building’s original construction as a chapel for the Royal Naval School in 1854.

Tucked away on the north west side of the College Green (formerly known as the back-field) it also served as the Royal Naval School’s biggest teaching space.

The Chapel’s Original Design

Architect’s design of Wren style chapel and floor plan. Image: Lewisham local archives.

The illustration above is from the special fund-raising brochure circulated in 1852 to accrue the budget for the building from donations.

The target for the ‘Chapel Building Fund’ was £3,000 which in 2018 would have a purchasing power of £406,767.36.

The floor design accurately shows the architecture of the interior that remained the same until the early 1960s prior to its conversion for professional theatre production.

The circular seating maximised the capacity for the 400 pupils for whom the original main building was constructed along with all the ‘servants and officers.’

The brochure said that ‘open seats are provided for the pupils, slightly radiating to the Pulpit, Desk, and Communion Table to the East, so as to afford perfect inspection.’

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Goldsmiths students misbehavin’ – College rules and what happened to those who broke them.

These male seniors of 1908 were labelled ‘The Not Innocents.’ We have no information about why they earned this nickname. Image: Goldsmiths College archives.

Is there a spirit connected with being a Goldsmiths’ student that is somewhat distinctive, radical, questioning, and protesting?

Beyond any desire to ‘brand’ and make distinctive something about Goldsmiths, it is a question with no easy answer.

It might be foolish to generalise. In the photograph above these are men behaving badly for a brief moment: sticking their tongues out, pulling rude faces, making somewhat impolite gestures with their hands, and in one case smoking a cigarette and pipe at the same time.

But there are events and evidence of a tradition that could suggest something.

The Warden, Ross Chesterman (1953-74) recalled deciding to ring up the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Robert Mark, in the late 1960s when some of ‘our students occasionally got into mild trouble with the police, usually because of demonstrations.’

Mark had a fearsome reputation. The local police commander was certainly in fear of him: ‘When the Commissioner Mr Mark says jump, you don’t think about it or argue, you bloody well jump!’

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Caroline Graveson- A founding conscience of Goldsmiths’ College

Caroline C. Graveson, first Woman’s Vice Principal of Goldsmiths’ College, University of London on her appointment in 1905 with the women staff. Centre front row. The picture was taken at the entrance to the women’s corridor on the east side of the building

Caroline Graveson’s appointment as women’s Vice Principal of Goldsmiths’ College in 1905 received national newspaper exultation.

The Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard said ‘it was one of the most valuable and important among those now open to women.’

Some of Caroline Graveson’s first women teacher training students in 1905-6.

She remained one of the most important women in British Higher Education during the Edwardian period, through the First World War and continuing through the 1920s and 30s until her retirement at the end of 1934.

A typically distracted pose of Caroline Graveson in group photographs

During the Great War, Goldsmiths became virtually an all-woman’s place with most men students and staff joining the armed forces. By 1916 the roll call of students was 268 women to 20 men.

It was a pioneering training college centre for educating teachers because it was the first to be co-educational and non-denominational. This meant it could admit students with non-Christian backgrounds such as Jews and Muslims, and it partnered with the prestigious Art School and thriving adult evening educational programme started by the Goldsmiths Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891. It was also run by the University of London- the most important and influential university in Great Britain outside Oxford and Cambridge.

Caroline was one of the first women members of the British Psychological Society- a reflection of the College’s commitment to researching and teaching educational psychology.

She spoke fluent German because she had been a student at German universities for 2 years between 1896-98.

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A greatly lamented Goldsmiths’ casualty of Passchendaele- William Thomas Young

 

The men staff and students of the Goldsmiths’ Training Department 1907. William Thomas Young is the lecturer sitting centre of the front row, 7th from left and right.

One day in the middle of July 1917 a telegram boy delivered the message to Mrs Hilda Young that her husband, Lieutenant William Thomas Young, had been killed in action.

It is impossible to imagine the shock and grief of such news; particularly when she was caring for their infant daughter, Diana, born just over a year before.

He had been blown up by shell fire on the 12th of July while serving with number 12 Heavy Battery, the Royal Garrison Artillery during the battle of Passchendaele.

It was also the first day the German Army had deployed mustard gas.

He was 36-years-old and had been hailed as one of the country’s most promising scholars of English Literature.

He had been lecturer in English at the University of London, Goldsmiths’ College since September 1906 and he was also Joint Editor of the prestigious Cambridge Anthologies.

Goldsmiths’ women students and staff 1905-7. Three of the men, including the Warden, William Loring and Vice Principal Thomas Raymont still managed to ‘inveigle’ themselves into the frame. You can see them standing at the back to the far left and right.

Three of his books, poetry during the age of Shakespeare, the poetry of Robert Browning, and a ‘Primer of English Literature’ had been published by Cambridge University Press and formed the core of the English syllabus in schools and colleges throughout the country.

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Pizzicato on the double bass, Spike Milligan and Goldsmiths

Advanced Music Class Goldsmiths College 1929-31. This animated and lively group photo features two mischievous double bass players at either end – the instrument that Spike Milligan took with him on the tram to his evening orchestral music class in the middle 1930s. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London.

Spike Milligan (1918-2002) is credited with revolutionising British comedy through his chaotic, surrealist, and subversive imagination.

He created the seminal radio comedy The Goon Show (1951-60), and wrote more than 50 books including six on his Second World War experiences.

To say he was larger and crazier than life itself would be an understatement.

And he was also a student of Goldsmiths College.

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The Goldsmiths’ terms of one of Scotland’s most celebrated 20th century artists

Joan Eardley’s 1943 prize-winning self portrait at Glasgow School of Art – seen as the precursor to her powerful and enduring social portraiture of children in the Townhead area of Glasgow. Included for criticism and review.

The Times newspaper called Joan Eardley (1921-1963) one of Britain’s ‘pre-eminent artists of the 20th century.’

The Guardian says she is:

“…the forgotten artist who captured Scotland’s life and soul, children from Glasgow’s slums, bleak seascapes, village fishermen at work … the vibrant visions of Joan Eardley are finding a new following.”

In recent years Scotland has staged major exhibitions of her work in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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