Saffron Walden Training College

Saffron Walden Training College
Saffron Walden Training College


Saffron Walden Traing College
Saffron Walden Training College


Mum was trained during the war and she tells us about having to be on the roof at night for doodle-bug watch. She remembers a room with an auriol window where a room had been divided and had an inter-access door with her friend Jean Clayden (who married a Green). This meant great fun confusing everyone by going in and out of each entrance.
Her other main recollection seems to revolve around the evidence left by priapic US airmen on Saffron Walden Common.

For more on the background and history of the now closed Training College see this 2007 article (PDF will open in a new tab) >

Update 23 May 2019

I was delighted to hear from James Green, the grandson of Mum’s friend Jean Clayden, who had stumbled across this page researching into Saffron Walden Training College. I looked for further photos, originally from my Grandmother’s collection, and found a series related to a performance of Bithe Spirit. The first is a curtain call photograph with my Mother, Lorna Ascoli, on the far left (stage right) and Jean Clayden between the two men, one in a dog collar and the other with a bow tie. Mum’s notes of the dramatis personae follow.

Blythe Spirit Curtain Call

Me (Lorna Ascoli)
Maureen Oliver
Eric Harney
Joan Lamb
Alwyn Royall
Sheila Price
Maurice Hignell
Mr C
Jean C (Clayden)
Stan Smithson
Barbara Grubb
Mr Price
Winnie Maynes
Syd Roser
Myke Shapiro
Mary Maynes

This sequence shows the play in action.

Blithe Spirit

There is evidence for this in a Visitors’ Book for Wightman Road which clearly shows Jean Clayden’s signature on 7 January 1949 and, then, a housewarming party for Rosebank Avenue, on 9 June 1951. There is a further entry for a News Year Party 12 January 1952. On 9 November 1952 there is Jean’s signature, another which looks like G. E. Clayden and Wilfred C Clayden from the same address. There is an entry for a New Year Party on 9 January 1954.

The visitors book finishes in late 1955 as Alfed Willson became ill and died the following year. The story continues, of course, and there for the New Year parties is the signature of next-door-neighbour Peter Fermer.
Read about Lorna and Peter Fermer >

These postcards of the Training College were sent by Lorna to her Mother. They were obviously old photos at the time but it is recognisable as the College we knew, even when it became the Bell School of Languages, while attending Friends School which was just over the road.

Lorna writes: N wing. S wing. There is a new wing either side not shown. I am at the back of north.
Lorna writes: The Practising School next door to college. The trees are bigger now”
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