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Student and tutors group

I think that this photograph shows a group of students and tutors from Preston Technical Institute. It was, as I remember, on the left side of Lewes Road when leaving Preston Circus, just past the railway arch. I can’t remember any of the names in this group. I attended 1 year course at PTI before gaining a scholarship to attend Brighton technical College. The only teachers names that I can remember were Mr Merrifield & Mr Clough.

If you can recognise yourself or anyone else here – or if you can confirm the group was from Preston Technical Institute – please leave a comment below.

History of Preston Technical Institute

Preston Technical Institute was formed after WW2 from Brighton Junior Technical Institute and had a number of departments situated in various locations throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. The first Principal was L.W. Palmer, BA, BSc., who had transferred from the previous establishment.

The original school buildings had opened in the 1880’s as Preston Road School, becoming an institute in 1937. With the Education Act of 1972, the various faculties were reorganised in favour of Comprehensive Schools and Technical Colleges.

By the 1960’s there were Commercial & Secretarial Depts. located at Coombe Road, St. George’s Place and Fawcett School, York Place. General Studies unit was at Hollingdean Road. Bakery Dept. was at Warwick Street. Engineering Depts. were at  Preston Road, Bear Road and Belgrave Street.  Automobile Engineering Dept. was at Belgrave Street with an annexe at Warwick Street.

Research by Andy Grant


Were these Preston Technical Institute students?
From the private collection of Barrie Searle

Comments about this page

  • There seems to be a strange mix-up here! Lewes Road does not “leave” Preston Circus, however Preston Road does leave Preston Circus, and just past the railway arch. On the left was an engineering facility, part of Brighton Technical College; I attended there in the very early 1970s. The building in the photo is too old to be the facility in Preston Road. Probably there was another building, on the left hand side of the Lewes Road, just past the ‘Kemp Town Railway Arch’ now part of Saunders Park. This must be the building referred to as the “General Studies unit at Hollingdean Road” and perhaps the one in the photo?

    By Peter Groves (28/02/2011)
  • I know exactly where the photo was taken, because I attended this technical college building in the early 70’s. I think Peter attended there too because it’s located at the top end of School Road, Hove. The college had a mechanical and electrical engineering training school in this building. The training school was for 1st year craft and technical apprentices employed by engineering companies in the area.

    By Michael Brittain (01/03/2011)
  • The name Preston Technical Institute was largely superseded around 1963, thereafter officially being called Brighton Technical College. However the name was still often recorded as such some while after being renamed. The faculty at Preston Road near to the corner of Dyke Road Drive became an annexe of Brighton Technical College (Mechanical Engineering Dept.). The faculty at Hollingdean Road at the junction with Lewes Road became Brighton Technical College (Domestic Science Dept.). I am rather baffled by the mention of the School Road building- this was part of Brighton Technical College (Industrial Training Centre), but was never part of Preston Technical Institute. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (01/03/2011)
  • Mick could be right about it being the School Road building, it does look like it! Also I seem to recognise the tutor on the right. Andy Mick is correct about the School Road building being part of BTC, at the very top end, adjacent to Hall & Co was the general engineering workshop. Boys having just left school at 16 , and being “apprenticed” to a local firm spent much of their first year there doing practical training; from simple soldering to lathe and mill work, electrical, welding and sheet metal fabrication. It really was a fantastic grounding in general engineering. Next door, but down one building, was the first year automotive practical facility, however I think it closed in the very early 1970s, it could have been 1971. Perhaps it then moved to Belgrave Street. Anyway I agree with Mick, it defo looks like School Road BTC facility, I will pop up there and have a look!

    By Peter Groves (01/03/2011)
  • To follow on from my previous post; in my first year as a mechanical engineering apprentice, I was at School Road for 3 days a week and at Preston Road for the other 2 days. School Road was a practical training school with Mr Dawson being the principal and Mr Bush, Mr Barr, Mr Darling, Mr Budgen and Mr Knight being the other trainers. I do remember Mr Clough at Preston Road; he was an excellent lecturer of mathematics, I also remember a trainer of arc and gas welding, aptly named Mr Sparks. For my 2nd 3rd and 4th years I attended the main Lewes Road Technical College which overlooked The Level. I had day release and 1 evening class during that period, with the Faculty of Engineering principal being Mr Lawson. We had some lectures in other buildings around the area including York Place and Pelham Street; we also had some lectures in a small annex in Frances Street next to the Open Market. The Brighton Technical College provided local engineering companies excellent facilities for their apprentices to gain City & Guilds, ONC and HNC certificates.

    By Michael Brittain (02/03/2011)
  • Despite all the interesting information, the actual location of this photograph still appears to be in question.

    By Alan Hobden (02/03/2011)
  • The photograph is not in question by me Alan, I am 100% sure it is the School Road Facility. I spent a year going up and down those steps and sometimes sitting on them with a cup of tea at tea break. I believe the building is now used as children’s indoor football and play area; its several years since I took my son there, but I think there is a wheelchair ramp on the entrance now.

    By Michael Brittain (02/03/2011)
  • Alan, School Road is top of the list at the mo, I will pop up there and check!

    By Peter Groves (02/03/2011)
  • I attended Preston Road, Coombe Road, Carlton Hill (area very delapidated and due for demolition) and Montague Place, which were pre-fab buildings during the late 50s. One person who stood out at Preston Road was Mr Merrifield. He was supposed to teach English, but his main function was to organize the social events and be the school “fixer”. He was very popular. He turned up c1957 with a bright red, brand new Ford Classic which rather suited his image. It certainly got him noticed, which was what he wanted. Does any body remember him?

    By John Boxell (02/03/2011)
  • In order to clear up any contradictions arising from the the article and following correspondence, I never made any allusions as to where the picture was taken and had not seen it when I wrote the accompanying article – I was only asked to supply information on the Preston Technical Institute. If the building referred to is that in School Road, I clearly stated that it was part of Brighton Technical College, but added that it was not detailed in any documents I have as being part of Preston Technical Institute (the original question posed by Barrie Searle). The picture and page were published at his behest. From the details in the picture I personally have no idea where it was taken, so if you personally recall the scene you are undoubtably correct. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (03/03/2011)
  • No need to pop up there Peter! I’ve just looked at the building in School Road, Hove on StreetView, and Michael is right. It’s currently occupied by Westows, an indoor play centre. The frontage looks the same as the old photo apart from the addition of the ramp Michael mentioned.

    By Alan Hobden (03/03/2011)
  • Now this interesting and sometimes intense debate, appears to have reached conlusion? Maybe its time to digress a little! Back in the 1960s I worked at the newly built Endeavour Motor company premises as a trainee Mechanic and would from time to time, attened the school across the road, for training sessions etc. Of course it was very handy for us as the place was almost opposite EMC in Preston Road. John Boxell mentioned Mr Merrifields Brand new Ford Classic c1957. The Consul Classic or Classic 315 as the export version was know was launched in 1961 model code 109E. The car was similar in appearance to its smaller sibling the Ford Anglia, featuring the same distinctive reverse-rake rear window, there was also a coupe version called the Consul Capri (not to be confused with the all new Capri launched in 1969). Only around 130,000 Classics and Capris were produced. These are small numbers by Ford standards, even in that era and probably indicative of the public not taking to the controversial styling. The Consul Classic was replaced in 1963 by the Consul Corsair, model code 120E, a much nicer car in appearance than its predecessor. In 1965 the model was given a face lift, also the name Consul was dropped, it also received a brand new V4 engine. (By Fords own admission not the smoothest engine they’d ever produced) However, it did power, albeit in low-compression form, the all new and now legendary Transit Van, launched in the same year. The Corsair was replaced by the Mk 3 Cortina in 1970, at which time the enlarged Cortina range became Fords midsized car, and the new smaller model, the Escort represented the size below. The new Capri took on the proformance aspirations of The Ford Motor company at that time.

    By Christopher Wrapson (05/03/2011)
  • Thanks Christopher for that bit of Ford UK car history, I particularly like the Ford terminology ‘reverse rake rear window’ I usually say forward sloped back window. I shall use that term from now on, so it sounds that I know what I’m talking about. I must admit I love the Classic/Capri styling along with the Vauxhall Velox they had that American look about them. You should write an article for the site about Ford and Endeavour in Brighton, I’m sure there would be lots of interest.

    By Michael Brittain (05/03/2011)
  • Sorry about the confusion, I sent in the photo. I vaguely recognise some of the students and the teachers but can’t positively identify the location. I ony attended Preston Technical Institute and Brighton Technical College and never attended college in School Road, Hove. Mr Merrifield did not appear to undertake much in the way of teaching duties. He once took our class for transposition of formula but made a bit of a mess of it. Some of the students complained to our regular maths teacher and he, in turn, had a strict word with Mr Merrifield. Result – no more maths with Merrifield. Anyway, re the photo, the plot thickens!
    The best Ford car based on the Cortina that I owned was the 1600E – especially with a gas flowed performance head purchased from ‘Speedy Spares’ (do they still exist?).

    By Barrie Searle (09/03/2011)
  • Hi Barrie. I was interested to read your comments re gas-flowed cylinder heads. Simply put, gas-flowing involves re-profiling the inlet and exhaust ports in the cylinder-head to allow the fuel air mix and exhaust gases to flow in and out with greater efficiency. The re-profiling process requires specialist knowledge and equipment and is not undertaken lightly. The process is used mainly in the motor sport industry. In standard production form, the Mk2 Cortina 1600E was a quick car “E for executive” being the posh version of the very sought after GT model! From 1967 the so called cross-flow cylinder head was fitted to all normal production Ford Kent engines used in the Cortina range. The induction manifold located on one side, the exhaust manifold on the other side – hence the name cross-flow. This engine also had the unusual feature that the combustion chambers were incorporated in the top of the pistons and not in the cylinder head, the face of the cylinder head itself, which of course houses the inlet and exhaust valves, was totally flat. Each engine capacity had different size piston bowls. I’m pretty sure Speedy Spares is still located on the Old Shoreham Road, Portslade.

    By Christopher Wrapson (11/03/2011)
  • I attended P T I in Coombe Road in 1958, Miss Anderson was head of English, did Commercial Book keeping with Mr. Jenks, other student names I remember were Pat Howick, Jeanette Box and Yvonne Morrison who I am still in touch with

    By Audrey Wilson (14/03/2011)
  • I attended the commercial college Coombe Rd 1954/55 and remember Headmaster Mr Wilcocks and taught by Miss Horne, Mrs Short, Mr Schofield, Mr Jenks and I think Mr Rover. Have subsequently been to two reunion functions in the ’90s. No-one from my class there except Kathleen Berrie from Littlehampton. In future working life the course stood me in good stead, especially learning shorthand.

    By David Pattenden (13/04/2011)
  • I attended Preston Technical Institute 1960-2 for commercial subjects.  I also remember some of those teachers names mentioned above.  I have lost contact with friends I made there but remember Nora Stringer, Gillian ?, Margaret ?, Dorothy? very well if not their full names.  I would love to meet them again as the five of us were great friends for a while until I moved away. The shorthand teacher in my time was a small Irish woman whose name I can’t remember at the moment, she let us smoke on school trips which seemed very with it.

    By Teresa Scrase-Davey (16/12/2013)
  • This page makes interesting reading. As a trainee Radio & Television Engineer for a company called Family Television, I enrolled in a City & Guilds course at “Brighton Tech” in 1959, it was a 5 year course, years 1 & 2 (R1 & R2) then years 3, 4 and 5 (TV1, 2 & 3) our practical and theory was taught at two classrooms in Coombe Road, Mr Canning and Mr Penfold (if my memory serves me well) all other classe, mostly the evening ones were held at schools in York Place and Finsbury Road. I remember the school in Coombe Road was split in two, the lower part was still a Junior School and the upper classrooms were used by “Brighton Tech”. I believe that eventually the whole lot transferred to Richmond Terrace because sometime in the early 1970s I returned to “Tech” for Colour TV courses run by Ron Bravery. 

    By Michael Clark (30/03/2016)
  • I attended Preston Rd Technical Institute from 1953 until 1958 on an electrical course. I was an apprentice for a company in Hove named Armature Services Company, who specialised in the repair and rewinding of electric motors.

    The PTI didn’t have a course that related to my kind of employment so for the first two years I was in a City & Guilds Electrical Installations course, at least I learnt electrical theory and electrical calculations (Mr Merrifield taught calculations as a separate subject, very particular he was as to how we wrote the calculations in our exercise book).

    After two years I went into a course named Electrical Power, no more conduit bending on that course, but after a year of that I attended a new C&G course entitled Electrical Technicians, which after two years I took and passed the Intermediate Certificate exam.

    There were quite a few lads from Allen-West on that course, but my five years apprenticeship was up, my day release was over and National Service was imminent (I went into the RAF and signed up for 3 years as an electrician).

    The Principle at that time was Mr Comely, who by coincidence I met up with in 1964 in Abingdon where I now lived, and still do, at the brand new building in the town named Abingdon College for Further Education, Mr Comely was the first Principle of that college. I made myself known to him one day when I passed him the corridor.

    At that time I had served my 3 years in the RAF and was working at the UKAEA’s Atomic Research Establishment at Harwell, Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire since 1973). I had day release from the AERE and passed my ONC exam in electrical engineering at that college in 1965.

    I was in Brighton earlier this month to meet up with some of my family in Hove, and seeing as I was staying at the Travelodge in Preston Rd, I had a looksee at the old PTI, it looks just the same, and they still have electrical courses there from what I saw from a notice board.


    By Vic Bath (31/03/2016)
  • I did my City and Guilds and ONC courses at PTI on Lewes Rd up to 1953. I cannot remember any names but did one of the teachers have a pristine Royal Enfield or Velocette Motor cycle? He set the bar so high for the caring of a motorcycle. I had a Norton 16h sometimes with a sidecar for which I paid five quid  in London. I later got a Pplace to go to BTC and did EE there graduating in 1957 and then left immediately for Canada as  they were paying five times the UK salary and expenses. Last summer 2016, I spent three months in the UK looking for old classmates and found no-one. I spoke several times to the alumnai person at the now new City College but we were not able to connect. I had many  emails  and one five minute meeting on the street with the director of the now Brighton U but nothing happened too busy attending meetingscameof it. I offered to help with fund rasing as many of my class mates are millionaires  but they did not take me up on the offer. I hung around for a few weeks, enjoyed the Lanes and pier and then left somewhat disappointed. So if anyone can connect me with anyone who knows any one I would appreciate it as I plan another visit this Summer.

    Dear Paul, I have deleted your address from your comment as to leave it in the comment may well infringe your security. If you wish to be contacted, please leave your email address in the body of the comment. Comments Editor

    By Paul Tie Ten Quee (13/02/2017)
  • I attended PTI for one year (1960/61) on a pre-diploma full-time course in Building Studies. Largely based at Preston Road, some of the subjects were taught at the Coombe Road annexe. I can vaguely recall a few of the lecturers:- Mr Hammond (Electrical), Mr  Rattle (Mechanical), Mr Dixon (Plumbing) and Mr Merrifield (Subject?). Anyone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Mr Dixon had a finger missing on one hand as the result of an accident. He thought it was an act of providence as it enabled him to hold an oxy/acetylene torch perfectly for lead burning! Following my time at PTI, I then spent 3 years at the Technical College/ College of Technology on a HND course. Have lived in Wiltshire since 1972, moving from my home town of Haywards Heath. 

    By Barrie Lewry (02/03/2018)
  • Back to the original photo. The tutor on the right looks like Mr Attree. Although by the time I was one of his students in 1976 he had much less hair.

    By Paul Johnson (14/11/2020)

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