Writtle History

Writtle College

Writtle College on Lordship Road has been in the village of Writtle for 60 years. It owes its foundation in the 1890's to the surplus revenue known as 'whisky money' used at the end of the 19th Century to develop education and training in practical gardening and farming. its first home was in the centre of Chelmsford and served as a meeting place for farmers wanting to find out more about modern practices.

By the mid 1930's, 500 acres including 4 farms (Lordship, Sturgeons, Daws and Guys) at Writtle were bought by the County Council to demonstrate dairy and arable farming, fruit and vegetable production and chicken farming. No sooner had the main building been completed than the outbreak of war caused the suspension of classes. The site became headquarters of the War Agricultural Executive with 'dig for victory', being one of its missions. The Women's Land Army was based at the college for a time.

In the post war years, Agricultural Engineering was established and Horticulture served both the commercial sector of glasshouses and fruit and the amenity side involving gardens, flowers and shrubs. Sheep and pigs were added to the livestock enterprises, new teaching buildings and student residences were built in the 1960's together with a modern sports centre and chapel.

Today, University College Writtle has grown to be the largest of its kind in the country, with over 1,300 full-time students and nearly 800 on part-time and short courses. Disciplines have extended to include Equine Studies, Leisure and Rural management, Animal Science and Animal Care, Landscape and Garden design and Floristry. With a staff of over 300, it is the largest employer in the village and welcomes students from over 30 countries. Now in partnership with the University of Essex, more than two thirds of the students are on graduate and post-graduate programmes.

Each year when the Chelsea Flower Show comes round, people took with great interest to see whether once again, 'their' College has brought the spotlight onto 'their' village by winning a coveted medal.

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