F. L. Calder College of Domestic Science

F. L. Calder College of Domestic Science

The wartime activities of one of the founding colleges of Liverpool John Moores University

Liverpool School of Cookery was established in 1875, with 58 committee members, including Countess of Derby and Countess of Sefton.

Fanny Calder was the honorary secretary and took the minutes of weekly meetings, up until 1918.

She was inspired to set up the school after seeing first-hand the conditions some women were living in and trying to provide for their families and make a home. A school was set up to train teachers and a cookery school was established in the school and in different districts of Liverpool.

In 1899 the Board of Education was established, this issued circulars on the content of classes and standards expected. On 2nd September 1900 students started classes in the new buildings at Colquitt Street, Liverpool. 

A Report for 1915 states that the war has not affected numbers and it ‘continues to be full to its utmost capacity’.

Cookery lessons were offered to Lt Col Stanley for the new army regiments in the area. Eight classes of 20 men were set up every day for two weeks at the Seaman’s Cookery School.

At the School of Domestic Science on Princes Road there was a decrease in numbers for the second term as many of the girls aged 14 and over can gain paid employment from engaging in war work. The girls mended over 200 garments for the Belgian Refugees. Prizes were not given as the girls felt that the money might be better used for the war effort. Wool was bought to knit socks and material to make shirts for the 6th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment.

During 1915-16 it was decided that Certificates for Matrons and Cooks and the High Class Cookery lessons were to be suspended during the course of the war. This was stamped in red ink inside the college prospectus. In 1918 Classes in Home Dressmaking, Sewing, Fancy Needlework and Knitting and Domestic Millinery were all suspended during the war. This was due to the cost of raw materials.

In 1916 war work took half the girls from classes at the Domestic Science School at 4 Princes Road.

A number of books were published including The Seamen’s Cookery Book, Invalid Cookery for Nurses’ Classes, Economical Recipes for Wartime and Recipes for Camp Cookery. The latter was intended for use by Boy Scouts. The minutes from 8th November 1915 note that the college had received a letter from Lt Bannister in Flanders, who praised the cookery book and asking for more as it “made an enormous difference to the cuisine.” Officers also ordered large number of the book to be supplied to their men. These manuals cost one penny each.

During 1916 staff decided to adopt and look after four prisoners of war and the students’ three prisoners of war.

In 1917 food rationing comes into force. This has a negative impact upon the college as staff did not know what food and textiles would be available for lessons. Additionally the number of women training to become teachers fell by a quarter as they were unable to pay the fees.

The College is registered as a catering establishment in April 1918 and the numbers of teachers in training rises. A class for widows of soldiers was held during the year, with the aim of enabling the women to qualify for well-paid posts in domestic service.

Staff and students left the college in larger numbers to volunteer or take up work to support the war effort. Fees for courses were raised and more private classes were enrolled to fill the growing number of vacant places and to provide some financial stability for the college. The residential housewifery training house on Princes Road was closed and training moved to Colquitt Street and the children’s school was also forced to close.

Three students who left the college with diplomas went to work at the Liverpool Merchants Mobile Hospital (Norah Burke, Eveline Rattenbury and Rita Halsall), two joined QMAAC (Janie Holt and May Dixon) while three went to work in the Navy and Army Canteen board (Caroline Bright, Hannah Hale and Jennie Howe)

Public wartime cookery demonstrations took place and the college also carried out food testing for public bodies.

By 1919 demand for teachers was rising with an increased number of entries in the school. Two members of staff who left to engage in war work resigned their posts permanently (Miss Bright and Miss Hale). In November students held an American Tea; the proceeds were divided between St Dunstan’s and the Workshops for Disabled Sailors and Soldiers

A new three year Domestic Science course was proposed to ensure training was continued and specialist knowledge was not lost. This course was approved by the Board of Education.

However, the college was facing financial difficulties, with increased running expenses contributing to a growing annual deficit. The college committee approached the local authority Technical Education Sub-Committee for an increase in grant. This request was refused. In May 1920 the only option available was for the committee to offer the college to the local education authority. The name was changed to the F. L. Calder College of Domestic Science.



F.L. Calder archives in Special Collections, Aldham Robarts Library, Liverpool John Moores University

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