|Description||The records of Chancellor's Hall comprise administrative records in the form of papers relating to the purchase and subsequent development of the building and land which became the University Hall of Residence; student registers listing the residents and the fees paid; papers relating to insurance policies on the building with plans; promotional material in the form of handbooks and prospectuses; minutes of meetings of the Junior Common Room 1953-1966 and copies of the Constitution of the Junior Common Room and the papers of Peter Farr, President of the Senior Common Room, minutes of meetings of the Chancellor's Hall House Sub-Committee 1925-1937; photographs of the building and grounds and also students in residence, staff and events at Chancellor's Hall; records of Chancellor's Hall Association including copies of the Chancellor's Hall Constitution 1972, papers relating to reunion dinners, printed Chancellor's Hall Association Register 1952 and minutes of the Annual General Meetings of the Association held between 1949 and 1979 and a typescript draft history of Chancellor's Hall 1922-1970 written by Eric Orme with 'reminiscences and anecdotes' edited by T. A. Trigg which was published by Chancellor's Hall Association in 2000; other ephemeral material includes a visitor's book for 1927, a copy of the first issue of a magazine published by students living at Chancellor's Hall in 1927, a letter from Robert Panton, Warden to Eric Orme and a printed invitation card.|
The material in this collection is a valuable source of information about the administration of one of the earliest Halls of Residence at Birmingham from its opening and also charts the way its residents experience of communal student life changed over the years. The papers and photographs relating to the buildings and grounds provide historical evidence of the architectural and landscape history of the property now demolished.
|Administrative History||The original building which became Chancellor's Hall, was known as The Dales and was the home of Birmingham business man and Liberal politician, George Dixon, from 1855 to 1898. Dixon was Mayor of Birmingham and Member of Parliament for the city and his home became a centre of Liberal Party activity with Gladstone being a frequent visitor. After Dixon's death in 1898 the house was sold to a Mr E. H. Stringer who owned it until 1920 when the property was sold by auction to the University of Birmingham. At about the same time the University Guild of Undergraduates had been considering the issue of the provision of residential accommodation for male students. In July 1920 a Hostel Sub-Committee issued a report recommending the University make such provision in the form of Hall of Residence for men in the same way as it had already provided for women undergraduates in University House. After the necessary building work was finished the first students were admitted to Chancellor's Hall as it was now known in October 1922. The first Warden was E. W. Gillett and the first Matron was Mrs E. H. Edward.The University House Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice-Principal was responsible for the Hall of Residence. Funding for the establishment of Chancellor's Hall came partly from the University Grants Committee and donations from Sir Charles Hyde. Throughout the 1920s the University continually sought to raise money from external sources to carry out the necessary development of the buildings and facilities and to encourage male undergraduates to take up residency. The Hall Management Committee struggled to meet the demands of the residents, deal with staffing and management issues and keep control of finances. Professor Frank Tillyard took over as Warden in 1928 but resigned in 1930 due to ill health and was succeeded by Major Robert Panton. At the same time Miss Kate Evans was appointed as Matron. New disciplinary codes were enforced for student residents of Hall under Major Panton but the problem of recruitment of undergraduates to fill the rooms remained a major issue as they found it more and more difficult to compete with cheap lodgings outside the University. In 1935 it was proposed that all students living away from home should spend one year in a Hall of Residence, foreign student numbers in Hall increased and in 1936 five Chancellor's Hall Exhibitions to a value of £30 were established.|
For a short time after the declaration of war in 1939 part of Chancellor's Hall was taken over for use by military authorities to house new service recruits. Later in the war when bombing on Birmingham began air raid precautions were instituted including the strict enforcement of blackout regulations and the bricking up of various rooms to provide above ground shelter and sleeping accommodation for the residents. Students were trained in first aid and carried out fire watching duties. The war years were also marked by chronic staff shortages and the perennial problem of maintaining food supplies. Despite these difficulties Chancellor's Hall remained open throughout the war years and even managed to accommodate Royal Engineer Cadets on training courses at the University. Both Major Panton and the Matron retired when the war ended in 1945. The new Warden was Mr P. C. Hordern, a member of the University's Appointments Board and the new Matron was Miss D. M. Brewster who shortly gave way to the appointment of Miss A. B. Bruce in 1947. The post war years saw Chancellor's Hall increase accomodation for students through the purchase and development of nearby properties. Financial problems still remained with the Hall regularly running at a loss so that in 1954 it was agreed that the University Central Funds take over payment of the Warden's salary and insurances for Chancellor's Hall. However, even after two increases in fees accounts for the Hall in 1956 still showed a deficit.
Student dissatisfaction during the 1960s with fees, food and rules in Hall posed further problems for the management of Chancellor's Hall. In 1963 the Chancellor's Hall Sub-Committee was replaced by the Chancellor's Hall Committee. The following year P. C. Hordern left the office of Warden and was not replaced. The administration of Chancellor's Hall now came under the direct responsibility of the University Halls Administrator and Mr Bob Gibson was appointed the first President of the Senior Common Room. As a former resident and Chancellor's Hall Exhibitioner, Gibson worked to improve the fabric of the building, cement relations with members of the Junior Common Room and maintain Hall's traditional events such as 'Baldwin Night'. However, when he left office in 1967 and was replaced by Dr Peter Farr the future of Chancellor's Hall was far from certain. It was seen as too small to operate economically even if money could be found to carry out the necessary building and refurbishment works. Added to this, Birmingham City Council plans for the Augustus Road area complicated the University's negotiations with the Calthorpe Estate for the renewal of leases on land. By 1970 the University authorities agreed to surrender the leases and close Chancellor's Hall, relocating students to halls on the Vale site.
Chancellor's Hall Association was inaugurated in 1949 at a dinner attended by forty five former residents including J. W. Alexander and the then University Vice Chancellor, Raymond Priestly. A second meeting was held in 1951 when sixty six members attended including Eric Gillett, the first Warden. Association reunions were held biannually until 1970. When Chancellor's Hall closed the event in 1971 took place in Manor House when members elected a Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of Tony Rigby tasked with contacting all known or potential members and drawing up a draft constitution. At a General Meeting in 1972 held at Wyddrington Hall under the Chairmanship of A. W. Wallbank, the new Constitution of Chancellor's Hall was formally adopted. Also at this meeting Peter Hordern was appointed Life President and an Executive Committee of twelve members was elected. It was decided to continue holding reunions every two years and to continue raising funds through Association subscriptions and fund raising events. These funds were to be used to provide additional amenities for residents of other Halls of Residence and for the descendants of members. The University's Raymond Priestly Centre for outdoor pursuits on Coniston Water, Cumbria, was a significant recipient of support and grants and donations have been made to other University causes by the Association. In 1974 a new Executive was elected which included Professor John walker who remained as Chairman until his retirement in 1989 and Bob Gibson who was Treasurer until 1995. At a General Meeting in that year the Executive Committee nominated Fred Grocott, the oldest active member, as Honorary President and Bob Gibson as Honorary Vice President, subsequently to become Honorary President in 1999 with Professor John Walker becoming Honorary Vice President.
Source: The University of Birmingham Chancellor's Hall (1922-1970) A Complete History with Reminiscences and Anecdotes' edited by T. A. Trigg and history written by Eric M. Orme, published by the Chancellor's Hall Association in association with Zoilus Press, 2000
|Custodial History||The majority of this collection was deposited by Mr R. J. Gibson, 12 Nov 1997 with additional material from Section 24 of the existing University Archive collection.|