Crawley College marks 'landmark' diamond anniversary

Crawley College is marking 60 years of providing education to the people of Sussex with a series of events.

One of the oldest further education colleges in the region, Crawley College was officially opened by the Queen on June 9 1958.

Middle Block of Crawley College

Middle Block of Crawley College

The college was built to address increased demand for technical skills due to the Gatwick Airport expansion.

Vicki Illingworth, principal at Crawley College, said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating such a landmark anniversary.”

When Crawley College opened, the aim was for the town to have a forward thinking college that could fulfil the needs of the area.

Vicki added: “The college has led the way, introducing apprenticeships in the trades and providing young students with the training they would need to excel in industry.

“Fast forward 60 years. Our students remain at the heart of everything we do.

“A lot has changed, but I believe Crawley College is going from strength to strength. We have a lot to be proud of over the past 60 years.”

Under its first principal, Dr Theodore Siklos, the college offered more than 200 vocational and non-vocational courses.

The first intake in 1958 saw 1,800 full and part-time students.

Dean Wynter, vice principal for curriculum said: “My own journey at the college started in 1982 as a Longley & Co bricklayer apprentice.

“I later returned to the college to teach in 2002 and I am now proud to be vice principal.”

Catherine Gregory, business development adviser, has worked in most college departments over 20 years. She added: “While I have seen many changes, the dedication, kindness and hard work of staff and students has remained the same.”

The original building, Middle Block, cost £500,000.

Since then the college has grown to cater for more than 10,000 students.

At the time of its opening, the Observer wrote: “The college is of modernistic design, in keeping with the streamlined new town.”

The college is inviting former students or staff to get in touch about their time at the college and to share any pictures they might have.

To get in touch visit crawley.ac.uk/60years or email 60years@crawley.ac.uk.

You can call 01293 442200 and speak to marketing or drop in for a chat.

Events to mark the anniversary include the Siklos dinner, a meal for VIPs and stakeholders featuring the menu from the dinner held for the opening in 1958.

It will be held in November at Restaurant 58 at the college.

A sculpture, created by the welding students, to mark the anniversary is to be unveiled in December.

The college is also holding an anniversary garden and tree planting session, designed and planted by the college’s foundation learners.

A timeline combining the history of the college, the local area and world events will be available on the college’s website this autumn.