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Myerscough celebrates 130th anniversary!

Tuesday 14 May

Today is the 130th anniversary of Myerscough College!

First Class 1894 (2)

1894 was a significant year across the UK. Iconic attractions, landmarks and businesses opened for the first time, including Blackpool Tower, the Manchester Ship Canal, Tower Bridge, and Marks and Spencer. Archibald Primrose replaced William Gladstone as Prime Minister, and Queen Victoria entered her 47th year on the throne.

On May 14th, 1894, the first students of what was then known as the Lancashire County Institute of Agriculture came through the doors.

History of Myerscough gallery

Myerscough College has been based at its main site in Bilsborrow, near Preston, since 1969. But the College’s beginnings date back to the 19th century, and specifically, the start of the 1890s, around four years before it took in its first intake of students. In 1890, the newly formed Lancashire County Council (founded in 1888 as part of the Local Government Act) set up a sub-committee, with the remit of making grants available to help local Agriculture.

Over the following few years, a number of schemes were introduced in the county to try and educate the industry, but none were seen as truly satisfying the needs of the workforce.

In November, 1893, Lancashire County Council’s Technical Instruction Committee issued a report that stated the desire to ‘’acquire farmland in the Preston area for the specific purpose of technical training in both practical and theoretical agriculture.’’ In 1890, the Local Taxation Act was passed, meaning publicans having to pay customs & excise duty on the alcohol they sold, to be used to pay for education. This tax became known as ‘whiskey money’. In the previous year, the Technical Instruction Act came into force, and county councils now used this levy to fund institutions providing ‘technical’ training.

Four farms were considered, and it was Home Farm, at Hutton, that was deemed to be most suitable. The land comprised of around 147 acres, mainly of pasture and meadowland, along with two recently built farm buildings and two houses on site. Possession of the farm was taken on March 25th.

It was agreed that initially all students would be local, and the first intake all female. There was a house attached to the farm and it was agreed that this property would be used as a boarding house for some of the first students to attend the Institute. These students would attend classes in butter & cheesemaking. A resident dairy instructress, a Miss Macqueen, was appointed.

Although not officially called the ‘Principal’, Miss Macqueen would go on to take the role of the first ever ‘leader’ of the Institution. From what records remain from that period, we understand her job as being ‘Directress, Matron & Teacher of Butter & Soft Cheese Making.’ She was paid £3 a week for her duties (around £300 a week in today’s money), plus a bonus of 7 shillings & 6d (about £40 today) for every student she manage to sign up. She also got a free house on site and an allowance to employ the services of an assistant.

The first ten female pupils entered residency on May 14th, and the Lancashire County Institute of Agriculture was officially born. The School House building remained in use at Hutton by college staff right up until the college left the site in 1999.

By the turn of the century, the Institute was producing and selling more than 2,700 kilograms of butter and 14,300 kilograms of cheese every year, with the farm itself increasing in size to accommodate hundreds more livestock and poultry.

(Above - A letter from Lizzie Richardson, one of the first ever students at the Lancashire County Institute of Agriculture, written in October 1894)

Read more about our rich history here:

A Brief History – Part Two

A Brief History – Part Three

A Brief History – Part Four

A Brief History – Part Five

A Brief History – Part Six

A Brief History – Part Seven