Loughborough University Workshop, 1964


Radar, LU Arts commissioning and research strand, invited artist Maria Pask to develop a new work in response to research being undertaken around value in different contexts, and more specifically around labour and value. After spending time within the university archives Maria became interested in the rich tradition of involving students in workshops, led by leading Arts and Crafts practitioners, that contributed to the physical development of the campus. They learnt a range of practical skills that allowed them to produce items to a high standard and become part of the fabric of the university.  Today, stained glass and furniture produced during this period is still very much in evidence within the campus buildings. Maria has re-visited this tradition by inviting current university students to undertake two practical workshops in which they undertook workshops in outdoor kiln building and woodworking.


The humble beginnings of the kiln

Building up the inner wall

Kiln Workshop

They firstly participated in a masterclass by Benedict Brierley, an expert in outdoor kilns and firing, who instructed them on how to build an outdoor, wood fired kiln. Expertise in firing kilns was also provided by Carl Gray. Through a process of discussion and experimentation, participants not only learned kiln and clay making skills, but also decided what to produce. The only stipulation was that they needed to create functional items that could be used practically within an aspect of the university’s operation.

Kiln plan view

Bedding mortar (ball clay and water mixed in a paste and used for bedding and sealing the gaps between the bricks)

Chopping wood for the firing

Filling the kiln

Corbeling the kiln

First flame

Early evening

Pyrometer measuring temperature inside kiln at over a 1000 degrees

After firing

Pots from the Kiln

A selection of the students useful pots fired in the kiln.

Building the kiln walls

Wood Workshop

Peter Leadbeater, a local sculptor and furniture maker, led the second workshop on wood carving and wood working skills. Using felled trees from campus woodland, students again considered what functional items were to be created that could support the daily operation of the university. They then proceeded to produce these items using the skills they had acquired during the workshop.

Tree trunks are heavy

Taking measurements for the bench

Peter Leadbeater leading the workshop

Peter prepares the log for the students to work on

The students begin crafting and sculpting the seats

Fire for design

Adorning the end of the bench

Experimenting with a variety of techniques

Within every tree there is a spoon, you just have to find it

Marking the log for cutting

The other log is split to make a bench

Rigorously tested balance point

Sanding the bench

Using all of Peter's tools

Getting to work on the final piece of furniture, a workbench

Finishing off

Carpenters and their finished workbench

Furniture, 1930's

End of the day

Handicraft shop, 1937

Documentation of the first college Rag Procession, 1920


Loughborough University Workshop, 1964

Generating Station, 1937

U Boat Engines Generate Electricity for Loughborough College 1925

In 1921 The Admiralty offered Loughborough College equipment from four surrendered German submarines. U126, a minelayer, and U161, an ordinary U boat, were at Devonport Dockyard and two submarine cruisers, U135 (which had helped put down the German naval mutiny at Wilhelmshaven in November 1918) and U145, were at Portsmouth. College staff and students went to the dockyards and managed to salvage a good deal of equipment (including two diesel engines, dynamos, motors, compressors, switchgear, batteries and instruments) before the submarines were scuttled or finally broken up. The engines that were brought to Loughborough were eventually rebuilt, without drawings or instructions, in a wooden hut facing Packe Street, originally intended for car-washing. They were started up in 1924 and began to generate electricity for the College in 1925. A new purpose built generating station, garage block and hosiery laboratory was erected over the original hut (which was pulled down piecemeal) in the 1930s and opened in January 1937.

Donated U135 Submarine

Early Engineering

The foundations for engineering training at Loughborough were laid during the First World War when Loughborough Technical Institute served as an Instructional Factory for the Ministry of Munitions. After the war the new purpose built engineering workshops and their machines and equipment were handed over to the College, ensuring its long term development.

The ambition of the College Principal, Herbert Schofield, was to create a national college dedicated to the training of engineers. In 1918, even before the war was over, he introduced a 5 year Diploma course in engineering. This incorporated Schofield’s guiding principle of ‘Training on Production’, which he had successfully used with the munitions trainees in the Instructional Factory. Engineering students worked on design projects for demonstration engines and testing machines which they then manufactured in the College workshops. These products, like hydraulic testing machines, gas and steam engines, and electric motors, bearing the plate ‘Makers Loughborough College’, were sold to other technical colleges, universities and schools.

Makers plate on products sold to other colleges, universities and schools

After the Second World War Loughborough College of Technology continued to use the ‘training on production’ scheme for its engineering students as well as introducing industrial placements. The College expanded both its higher level instruction and the research work it undertook and this development was recognised in 1957 when it was designated a College of Advanced Technology. The CATs, a small, select group of colleges concentrating exclusively on advanced technological education, were all granted university status in 1966, Loughborough being the first to receive its charter on 19 April 1966.

– Jenny Clark

Students clocking in to replicate real-world working conditions, 1958

Sports Hall

In 1932-33 the design of a pavilion for the new athletics stadium was designated the final year project for Civil Engineering students. A prize was offered by the College Union. The winner was AJ Wallis who went on to become borough surveyor of Weymouth. The pavilion is now known as the Paula Radcliffe Pavilion. Students contributed their labour for the surveying, excavating and levelling of the track and the pavilion site. The original oak panelling of the interior was also made by students. Apocryphally, there is the story that the students would also get a bun and a cup of tea for each morning’s or afternoon’s work.

Students building the sports hall, 1937

Plans for college Sports Pavilion

Plans for the construction of the Cricket Scoreboard, 1921

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool was planned by L.W.Kershaw, the Head of the Civil Engineering Department. By agreement with the Students Representative Council, the excavation and construction were carried out by students, under the direction of Kershaw and his successor, Dr T.E.N. Fargher. The work took three years to complete, having been delayed somewhat by bad weather and by Kershaw’s departure in 1927, and the pool was finished in 1929.

Aerial shot of open air pool, 1933

Students building the pool, 1929

Photographs of the opening of the pool, 1929

Building the kiln walls

College Furniture

Schofield’s ethos of ‘Training on Production’ was applied to almost every aspect of College life. Accordingly, if the College required an item or piece of equipment ( for example, a cricket screen or scoring box, desks or easels) those items would be built, in-house, by students using plans and designs either produced or acquired by the teaching staff.

Workshop plans for a cane chair, 1932

Student's bedrooms furnished with items made in-house, 1939

Student-made cane chairs, 1931

Plan for a drying stand, 1951

Chair design by cabinetmaking tutor Peter Van Der Waals

The dining hall using furniture made by students, 1939

Furniture, 1930's

Plans for an Osier Stripper, a tool used for stripping willow trees for the canes used in basketry and weaving, 1920

Furniture in English Oak, 1950

The Limit Loughborough College Magazine 1939

The Loughborough College magazine, ‘The Limit’ first appeared in December 1918. It was named after the vast numbers of limit gauges produced in the Ministry of Munitions Instructional Factory at the College during the First World War, a suggestion that came from E G Brown, the Superintendent of the Instrument and Gauge Making Shop. Mr Brown even wrote a poem on ‘The Limit’ for the first issue. The magazine was intended to be entertaining, instructive and stimulating and to bring together the different sections of the College. It contained a mix of serious and humorous articles; reports of College sports events, plays and club activities; poems, cartoons and photographs; and news of former students. It also carried advertisements for local businesses.

The School of Art designed the first ‘Limit’ cover and there were several later experiments with cover design, most using a combination of instruments and implements to represent College activities. The cover shown here, produced by JAF Divine of the School of Art, caused a storm of criticism. The editor reported that this apparent ‘masterpiece of modern art’ was ‘not liked by engineers and other normal individuals’ and that he had received ‘many cutting remarks from all over the country.’ Not surprisingly, the issue which carried these comments was graced with a much more conventional cover of ‘dignified and pleasing’ design!

‘The Limit’ was issued three times a year until 1942, when wartime conditions forced it to cease publication. It reappeared in a smaller format in 1947 and in 1960, as the renamed ‘Beyond the Limit’, became the journal of the Past Students Association (the Guild). In 1994 it was replaced by the Alumni Magazine.

The Limit, 1929. Cover designed by J.A.F. Divine, teacher of Stained Glass

Handicraft shop, 1937

Loughborough College of Art

The university’s art college contributed to a number projects with varying degrees of ambition.

Art College Prospectus, Summer School, 1946

Remaking of the Hazlerigg weather vane, 1983

Design for the Hazlerigg weather vane published in July's issue of The Limit, 1935

Book by J.A.F. Divine, teacher of Stained Glass. Published by Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, London, 1940

Stained Glass Window

Students from the Art College were invited to design stained glass window around the University. Here we see depictions of Dr.Schofield and sports activities associated with the University.

Energetic Principal Herbert Schofield

Stained glass, Rutland Hall

Icing tubes, 1921

Radio Station

The Radio station was an ambitious project by the Electrical Engineering Department, erecting aerials over a College building in town and out on the playing fields.

Meteorological station, 1929

Radio research station, 1928

Basketry, Embroidery and Metal Work

Cane lamp, 1928

Obituary in The Limit magazine, 1938, of Axel Saxelby, basketry teacher

Embroidery, 1930s

Metal work, 1930's

Poultry Farm

The Poultry Farm was a short-lived venture for the college. The first and only mention in the prospectus was 1919–20. Set up at the end of 1918 it was apparently sold in early 1921. Taught as an evening class with the possibility of some day sessions depending upon popularity it wasn’t affiliated with a specific department but part of the college\s part-time programme aimed at local people.

College poultry farm, 1920

Advert for the Poultry Department, 1920

The Rag Procession

Engineering students' choreography for the Rag Procession, 1920

Documentation of the first college Rag Procession, 1920