King's College London
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Domestic Science

Housekeepers' course at South-Western Polytechnic, c1900 (Ref: C/PH4/10)Housekeepers' course at South-Western Polytechnic, c1900 (Ref: C/PH4/10)The School of Home Training and Domestic Science was established in 1895 to provide specialist training for women as keepers of the home, with the granting a certificate in Household Management to students with regular attendance.

Cookery instruction at Chelsea Polytechnic, c1930 (Ref: C/PH4/11)Cookery instruction at Chelsea Polytechnic, c1930 (Ref: C/PH4/11)During the First World War, the department strove to offer training that would be of practical use in wartime households. Evening classes were available in invalid cookery together with lectures in first aid and home nursing. The classes proved popular, particularly with women in training to become Red Cross nurses. In 1916 the department also held a food economy exhibition with an address from the Ministry of Food. After the war, the department recorded an uptake in student numbers; during 1920-21 the first intake for a new course in Dressmaking and Ladies Tailoring included ten war widows, who undertook the training with a view to obtaining dressmaking work as a means of supplementing their pensions. Over the next two years, the Housecraft section noted that courses in millinery and dressmaking remained popular, with a considerable increase in students with government training grants. These were principally women who had been in government service during the war, and were in need of education and additional skills to improve their peacetime employment prospects.

Upholstery class at Chelsea Polytechnic, c1930 (Ref: C/PH4/11)Upholstery class at Chelsea Polytechnic, c1930 (Ref: C/PH4/11)The specialist expertise of the Department was similarly utilised during the Second World War with the provision of short courses in cookery for WRENS and members of the ATS and WAAF. Cookery students during the war period were given specialist instruction in canteen cookery and organisation, and other aspects of domestic studies associated with the necessities of war-time, such as economic cookery. The Department also worked in conjunction with the London County Council and the Ministry of Food to run a Food Education Campaign within the Borough. Between 1941 and 1943, 364 women were trained in Fitting and Centre Lathe Work as part of the general Ministry of Labour training scheme to assist in the preparing of women for war work in industry.

Post Second World War, the rapid expansion of the chemical and pharmaceutical disciplines at Chelsea led to increasing demands for additional space and the Department of Domestic Studies was discontinued in 1948, with the vocational studies being transferred to Battersea Polytechnic and the non-vocational work to a local women’s institute.

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