Hillcroft Post War

Hillcroft Library as it was in the early fiffties

Post war 1945 onwards

Mrs Constance Dyson became the Principal in 1947 and remained in post until 1963, having previously worked there as a part time tutor, the college maintained and strengthened its curriculum supported by the many loyal and faithful visiting lecturers. During the latter years of her appointment it became increasingly difficult to enlarge student recruitment as women were either not free to attend the college because of their domestic responsibilities or were unable to obtain grants from their local authorities for a non-­qualifying course.

Janet Cockerill succeeded Constance Dyson as Principal in 1963, developing the Social Studies Diploma which would for the first time testify the general academic standards achieved, thereby raising the status of Hillcroft. In 1974 London University accepted the last entries to the Diploma in Social Studies, resulting in 18 months of protracted negotiations with various universities seeking recognised validation for Hillcroft’s courses.

Eventually the college's competence and suitability was investigated by the CNAA (Council for National Academic Awards). The CNAA Certificate was launched in the autumn of 1974, and was recognised as a springboard to progress to higher education. It became possible for Hillcroft leavers to follow Higher National Diploma courses in Business Studies and take degrees in Environmental Biology. Students completing the Social Studies option increasingly found places in polytechnics and universities for postgraduate professional training courses.

In 1982 Janet Cockerill retired knowing that Hillcroft would continually need to adapt to presiding changes and influences. The college has had three further Principals to date, all of whom have been instrumental in maintaining and shaping the future of Hillcroft, to meet ever-changing needs. Hillcroft continues to strive towards meeting the future needs of women today; the mission continues to focus on the education of adult women who have been disadvantaged by educational, social or economic factors.

The Hillcroft building still remains to-day with many of its old features and has become an interesting part of the annual Kingston Heritage tour which happens in early September each year. Although courses have changed to reflect the need in today’s society, many women from around England continue to benefit from its unique learning environment and its rich history has finally been immortalised in the 2015 series of Downton Abbey.