Sparks Flying. The History of the Enfield Campus of Middlesex University

Andrew Roberts and John Carr "Sparks Flying. The History of the Enfield Campus of Middlesex University" North Circular 11.6.1998, (Re- published in study handbooks, and student introductions from 1998 to 2008 when Enfield Campus closed).

John Carr started work at Enfield College in September 1963. He was one of a group of six lecturers brought in by Dr Brosan to spearhead his project of a college education that would combine technical and social sciences. The project was eventually written up as The Enfield Experiment.


Our history begins with the history of photography, electric light, wireless and computers. In 1901, Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) bought a house in Ponders End High Street that became the Ediswan Institute. Joseph Swan and Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) were (separately) the British and American inventors of the electric light bulb. They formed a joint company in 1883. Swan was also an early pioneer of modern photographic materials. The invention of the thermionic valve, by Professor Ambrose Fleming in 1904, began as a project for Joseph Swan in Ponders End, and was completed as work for the Marconi Wireless Company in Chelmsford. During the second world war 1,500 thermionic valves were used to construct Colossus, the world's first electronic computer. This secret British invention cracked the German "Enigma" code, and helped to win the war.

Bought by Middlesex County Council in 1905, the Ediswan Institute became the Ponders End Technical Institute. By 1937 The Ponders End Technical Institute was growing so fast that it was decided to build a large new college across the road, in Queensway. This is the present Enfield Campus. Due to the second world war, it was not completed until 1953, but the unfinished buildings were in use throughout the war. By now it was called Enfield Technical College. A week after the war ended, the front page of the Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald (24.8.1945) had a large advertisement, by Middlesex County Council Education Committee, of the courses available at Enfield Technical College. Courses were held in Automobile, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Production Engineering, Metallurgy, Management Subjects and Trade Courses.

The People's University

In 1962 the college was renamed Enfield College of Technology by the Ministry of Education. In the autumn of 1962, George Stephen Brosan became the Principal. Between 1962 and 1970, he and Eric Robinson (1927-) set about turning Enfield into part of a "New Polytechnic" that would unite the material technologies that created the electric light with the new technologies of the social sciences. In 1968 a Penguin paperback, The New Polytechnics. The Peoples Universities by Eric Robinson, drew national attention to what was happening here. By the time that he and George Brosan left, the college that began with an electric light bulb, had an international reputation in the Social Sciences.

Middlesex Polytechnic, established in January 1973, combined Enfield and Hendon Colleges of Technology and the Hornsey College of Art. In 1992 the Polytechnic became Middlesex University and by February 1993 every Polytechnic in England had become a University and the vision of universities for the people, that started at Enfield, had become a national reality.

The campus buildings are named after people who helped to create it. When you come up the main drive, the building you are approaching is the Broadbent Building. The Pascal Building is behind this, and cannot be seen from the front. To your left, you can see the Tower Block (called the Roberts Building). If you walk round, past the Roberts Building, you come first to the McCrae Building and then to Pascal.

BROADBENT: The main building of Enfield Campus is named after Henry Winterbottom Broadbent, a Mechanical Engineer who was appointed first Principal of Enfield Technical College in January 1941. He died suddenly in 1955. Work started on this building in 1938, but it was not completed until 1953 - and there have been a lot of alterations since then. The front of the building is probably the most pleasing view of the campus. In spring its tall glass front is framed by lombardy poplars and flowering cherries. The middle floor, seen from the front, is the main book collection of Enfield's integrated Learning Resource Centre. The Resource Centre takes up most of Broadbent, It is the heart of Enfield Campus, and is dealt with in detail later. The top floor of Broadbent is occupied by Psychology and the Psychology Laboratories. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Enfield pioneered computerised psychology laboratories, one of which is named after John Ives (1940-1994), one of the pioneers.

The main plan of the Broadbent is a square around a courtyard. But, at the back of the building, there is a warren of corridors and rooms in which it is easy to get lost. Students and staff find their way around Broadbent by learning where some of the important landmarks are:

Reception Desk
Enfield Student Office
Enfield Learning Resource Centre
All Saints Bookshop
The Forum
Enfield Student Advice Centre
Careers and Educational Guidance
Health Centre
Students Union
Rights and Advice Service

At the main entrance to Brodbent is the Enfield Campus Reception Desk:

If you want to find a room or a person, ask at the reception desk. If you are lost, find your way back to the reception desk and ask advice.

If you turn right from the main Enfield entrance and then left you will come to the student trays, notice boards and Student Office

Student trays: Along the wall are lines of tin drawers. Soon after you start, one of these will have your name on. Every enrolled student has one of these trays for letters and other papers. Notices to you on paper will be put in this tray. Electronic notices will be sent to your email address.

University wide, student trays ware removed in the autumn of 2002. Students were told that they must consult their emails frequently.

Notice boards above the Student trays are used for important information -- like your assessment results. There are more notice boards in the Student Office foyer.

Enfield Campus Student Office:

The Student Office is the administrative centre for students. This is where you go for general information and advice. It is also the place to go if you need to update your student records.

The Student Office handles most student queries and administrative transactions, including registration of and changes to academic programmes, handing in and receipting of assessed coursework, all assessment and progression queries (deferrals, problematic circumstances etc.) Students may be referred on from the Student Office to more specialist help.
The Student Office can deal with almost all requests for help and advice from students. If the Student Office is not in a position to resolve problems, they will refer students to the appropriate agency - in most instances this would be the
Student Advice Centre.

You do not have to queue for most routine transactions. There are forms in the Campus Student Office that you can fill in.

    Council Tax Exemption letters,
    Student Status letters,
    Assessment Deferrals,
    Extenuating Circumstances,
    Special requirements for exams
    Mark Queries,
    Assessment Appeals,
    Module Change requests,
    Base campus transfer,
    Health Bursary,
    Change of bank account,
    Part time bursary applications,
    Address Changes,
    Requesting a Transcript,
    Requesting a Reference,
    Withdrawal (permanent/temporary), etc.etc.
If we write back or send material to you, this will be placed in your Correspondence Tray.

Turn left from the main Enfield entrance and then right:

Enfield Learning Resource Centre: The only entrance to the library, computer centre, language centre and media services.

Turn left for the Forum. Keep straight on for the Bookshop.

Bookshop: All Saints Bookshop tries to stock all books that you will want for your courses. If you cannot find what you want, please ask. If they have not got it they will probably be able to order it for you.

The Forum: The Forum has a bar that is run by the Student's Union. There is a coffee bar and a food counter. There is plenty of room to sit and talk, inside and in the open air. You will often find sales of books and other things here, and various evening entertainments.

If you walk past the bookshop and turn left, or walk through the Forum, you will come to rooms with a range of student facilities. These include:

Student Advice Centre.

The Student Advice Centre usually has a receptionist to help you. There is also a Duty Adviser there every day of the week. The rota will tell you when. Duty Advisers can help you with many problems with the university's bureaucracy, and can refer you to other agencies who can offer more specialised help. These include: Counselling, Welfare Rights Advice, Health Advice, Careers Advice, and the Chaplaincy, all of which are located in or close to the Advice Centre.

Careers and Educational Guidance: This service will help you plan your academic programme and personal development in relation to your career goals. The professional staff work with students from first year to final year. There is also a Careers Library where you can conduct your own research into your possible future.

Counsellors: The counsellors are here to help staff and students with the personal and emotional problems that we all suffer from at some time.

Chaplain: The chaplain has pastoral responsibility for all students and staff, irrespective of religious persuasion. She seeks to facilitate community and fellowship and build bridges between people of different faiths.

Health Centre: The campus nurse is available to give confidential help and advice on a wide range of personal health matters.

Students Union: Along this corridor the Students Union has a student lounge and four offices as well as a shop selling stationery, pens, sweets, drinks, stamps and lots of other things.

An important aspect of the Students Union services at Enfield is the Rights and Advice Service. Ask here for advice about finances, grants, welfare rights etc.

TOWER BLOCK - ROBERTS BUILDING: The Tower Block was named after a local industrialist George A. Roberts, who was chair of Enfield College's Governing Body from 1949 to 1968. Mr Roberts was the Managing Director of the nearby family firm of Ripaults Ltd and chair of the Advisory Committee to the Department of Industrial Engineering. His efforts lobbying local industry for spare building permits made the McCrae Building possible despite building restrictions in the aftermath of world war. Mr Roberts was present when the Roberts building was opened by Margaret Thatcher on Wednesday 17th March 1971.

The Refectory is on the ground floor of the Roberts Building, on the left. To the right of the Refectory is the staff room, recently named the Geoff Pilling Room after the author of Marx's "Capital". Philosophy and Political Economy (1980), which argued that to understand Das Kapital one has to read and understand Hegel's Logic. Dr Pilling (1940-1997) taught economics at Enfield from the late 1960s. Most staff trays (for correspondence) are in the Geoff Pilling Room.

The other floors of the Roberts Building are occupied by different parts of the School of Social Science. The School Office, the Dean of School (Dennis Parker) and other people responsible for the whole School, are on the first floor. Geography, Environment and Society is on the second floor. Social Policy and Women's Studies is on the fifth floor, and Criminology on the sixth floor. The Centre for Criminology is the home of
Jock Young, the main author of The New Criminology (1973), a textbook that established criminology as a discipline that is as much theoretical as empirical. The Centre was founded in (1986) and is known for its surveys in London, Birmingham and Merseyside of crime victimisation and the relations between police and public. Other work often reported in the newspapers includes research on prostitution and on the effects of lighting on crime.

MCCRAE: The McCrae Building was the first extension to Enfield Technical College. Built in 1955, it was later named after Roderick McCrae, who was the Principal from 1955 to 1962. Mr McCrae was also remembered by a series of "McCrae Shield meetings". Like his predecessor Mr Broadbent, Mr McCrae was an engineer. The Further Education Officer of Middlesex County Council from 1960-1962 was George Brosan, who succeeded Mr McCrae as Principal. Mr McCrae worked with Mr Brosan on plans for the extension of the Campus. After Mr McCrae's death, Mr W.T. Pratt, another engineer, was Acting Principal until George Brosan took over.

Originally built for Chemistry laboratories, the McCrae is now home to the Flood Hazard Research Centre. Started in 1970, this Centre has an international reputation for developing methods and databases to measure the value of environmental improvements. It uses computer models to estimate the social and economic costs of flood damage.

PASCAL: The Pascal Building is named after Eric Pascal who was Education Officer of the Borough of Enfield from before 1942 until 1945 or later, and clerk to the Governors of Enfield College from 1949 to 1965. He and George Roberts were clerk and chair of the Governing Body during the period that Enfield began to develop as a degree level college. The present Pascal Building, opened in 1994, replaced the Pascal Laboratories, which were opened for Engineering projects at the same time as the Roberts Building (1971). The present Pascal contains a large Lecture Theatre (P8), equipped for electronic presentations and comfortable viewing. It is also where you will find the Social Work offices and the new Social Science Centre for Postgraduate Studies.

The part of the Broadbent Building facing Pascal housed the Enfield Computer in the early 1970s. This monster was kept at a constant temperature, fed with punched cards, and delivered its results in reams and reams of paper. Local businesses paid the college to use it.

TED LEWIS HALLS: The Halls of Residence, behind the Roberts Building, are named after Ted Lewis who was head of Economics and Geography for many years, and the first head of Middlesex University's Academic Development and Quality Assurance unit. In January 1994, his unexpected death was announced in the same edition of North Circular that announced the beginning of the building that became Ted Lewis Halls.

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