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Through the Lens

Exhibition Piece: The series of photographs on display along the curved corridor of the adult wing were commissioned by the British Council in 1939. They mostly show students, staff or community groups associated with College activities, for example, reading in the library.

The following is a description of each photograph in the series:

  1. Children in Waterbeach catching the bus to Impington Village College.
  2. The entrance to the College.
  3. Children arriving at the College by bicycles.
  4. Assembly in the main hall.
  5. Staff meeting.
  6. Teacher leading a Geography class.
  7. A class of students.  Impington Hall can be seen in the background.
  8. Woodworking class.
  9. Boys in the science laboratory with a steam engine built by the lads themselves.
  10. Science laboratory.
  11. Girls in a domestic science class.
  12. Girls in a domestic science class.
  13. Lunch being prepared in the College kitchen.
  14. Students and staff sharing lunch in the Prom.
  15. Country dancing on the College lawn by pupils of the day school.
  16. Boys at physical training in the College grounds.
  17. Young Farmers’ Club beekeeping class.
  18. The Scout Troupe.
  19. Boys’ Training Corps.
  20. Members of the Girls’ Training Corps which has its headquarters at the College.
  21. British Red Cross Society practical demonstration.  The girls are taught every aspect of nursing that they can learn outside a hospital.
  22. The Junior Red Cross meet at the College.
  23. Front of the building.
  24. View of the Prom from the quadrant.
  25. View of the adult wing.
  26. The darts room in the social centre which forms a part of the social club activities.
  27. The Snooker Club.
  28. Table tennis is enjoyed by the villagers at the social centre at the College.
  29. An evening class in carpentry.
  30. An afternoon class for women.  Mothers are also allowed to bring their children thus helping to create a happier atmosphere.
  31. An evening language class for adults.
  32. An evening art class for adults and youngsters who are continuing their education.
  33. College dramatics society in rehearsal.
  34. Adult recreational dancing class.
  35. Adult choir.
  36. A Governors meeting.
  37. A small meeting in the adult wing.
  38. The children at the day school are free to use the children’s section of the Library.
  39. The Library is open to adult readers.  There are plenty of books and plenty of readers.
  40. View of the community Library.

On the back of each of the 40 images, the following text was printed: 


The British Village College of Impington serves the educational, social and recreation needs of the population of ten surrounding villages.  A senior elementary school by day, it becomes a community centre in the evening, when a large variety of activities catering for people of all ages are organised in the specially designed modern buildings.  The success of the scheme, which originated as an experiment by the Cambridgeshire Education Committee, is proved by the fact that up to one thousand people use the College each day.  This is one of five similar centres operating in the county.


The British people generally have a deep love of the countryside and country life.  Nevertheless, they have in the past frequently neglected to provide the amenities of life for those who work and live in the country.  In 1939 village life flourished in the way of communal activities, which centres around church organisations, the Women’s Rural Institutes, the Young Farmers’ Clubs, and so on.  But in many cases villages lacked proper water supplies, gas or electricity, adequate transport, a sufficiency of playing fields, even a suitable village hall.  A committee under Lord Justice Scott, appointed by the Government, published a report in August 1942 making many detailed recommendations.  Perhaps the most important was that every village should have a community centre.  This idea has already been carried out in Cambridgeshire, where Mr Henry Morris, the Director of Education for Cambridge, had founded four Village Colleges.  Each of these is used as a central school, both for children and for adults, and also combines the functions of a club, village hall, library, canteen and clinic.