Alumni return to Summer Row after 40 years

October 2014

A group of UCB graduates from the 1970s returned to Summer Row for a stroll down memory lane. 

The eight alumni, who studied at UCB back when it was the Birmingham College of Food and Domestic Arts (BCFDA), visited the campus to see how much had changed in the time they had been away. 

From 1974-1977, the group studied for diplomas in Home Economics, a course with a broad subject matter that included social studies, art, cooking, typing, business studies and a range of sciences. The group praised the course for its varied subject matter, and that it enabled them to study a range of areas before pursuing a career path that they thought was right for them. 

“I first wanted to become a journalist for Good Housekeeping magazine,” revealed Trish Cresswell, one of the alumni. “However, during my time at BCFDA, I became very interested in the Social Sciences from working with older people and helping them look at how they should manage their day-to-day tasks in order to keep their independence, such as maintaining a nutritional diet and retaining a level of mobility.” 

Back in the 70s, Summer Row’s Student Guild and Resource Centre was a college dance hall, hosting various forms of entertainment – including a memorable appearance from Jasper Carrott just before the release of his UK Top 5 chart hit “Funky Moped”. 

The group also took a tour of the 11th floor, which used to be student accommodation and living areas. They were really excited to see their old rooms (now staff offices and a language centre), and recalled meeting one another for the first time in the communal kitchen areas – encounters that have led to lifelong friendships. 

The alumni concluded their tour with a look inside UCB’s new campus, McIntyre House. From the rooftop garden they had a view of Summer Row as well as the new Birmingham Library. They shared many stories about their time at the college, from their favourite lecturers and subjects to getting into mischief and skiving off art lectures to go to the cinema. 

Lorna Knowles, another BCFDA alumni, said: “I think the main thing the course gave us was an excellent work ethic, an eye for detail and how to be professional in all we do. 

“The three years at BCFDA were certainly up there with some of the best years of my life.”

Picture from left to right: Kay Manca (was Cleary), Trish Cresswell (was Morris), Joyce Burton (was Marshall), Gill McCormick (was Parry), Alison Rouse (was Fairbank), Janet Holdcroft (was Willis), Lorna Knowles (was Fordyce), Fran Endicott (was Dodd).

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