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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Celebrating old and new at Furness College

IT is hard to believe that Furness College, which has a £43m new campus and some 5,000 students, started life in one room of a working men’s club 136 years ago.

Since then, the college has gone by various names, has been based across multiple sites in Barrow, and many people have an association with it.

Now Furness College is entering a new era. The new campus will be officially opened on June 15 at a public event, where the keys will be handed to the people of Barrow.

But as the college celebrates its future it is on a journey of discovery – about its past.

Today, Furness College and the North-West Evening Mail launch an appeal for the public to share their memories, family associations, old photographs and memorabilia of the college.

Furness College principal, Anne Attwood, and other staff, have already started exploring key dates in the college’s
history. Now they would like the community’s help to fill in some of the gaps in its history and share their stories.

Whatever information is submitted the college will research it further.

The college’s origins date back to 1877 with The School of Art and Science. It was based in one room of a working men’s club in Abbey Road – the building known as the House of Lords, or Barrow Working Mens’ Club.

In the 1925 Education Week Handbook Sir John Barrow writes about the first staff at the college when it opened in 1877 and gives their names. The college has been looking them up in the 1881 census and they hope to find some of their ancestors.

The college plans to put all this information together before the official opening of the new campus at Channelside in June for an exhibition at a public event.

The college has a good amount of historical information from the mid 1970s onwards, so anything earlier would be very gratefully received, but no information will be turned down.

Mrs Attwood said all information gathered might eventually be documented in a book.

She said: “I’ve been principal for 10 years now and one thing I’ve learned is that the college and the town have grown
together. Almost everyone in Barrow has learned something at the college.

“Some of this comes from learning about my own roots. I’m very proud to say that I have ancestors from all over this area, including Barrow, and that some of them worked in the yard. I’d be even prouder if I could prove that some of them studied at the college.

“I’ve lived through a lot of changes in my life – and too much has disappeared forever. It would be great if we could pull together a special archive and history to show how deep the college’s roots actually are in the community.”

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