Historically, Filton was a tiny village in Gloucestershire with a population of just 115 in 1801, growing to 11,000 by 1938.
In 1879 the need for an evening school for adults and young people had long been felt. A teacher wrote: “I have already purchased lamps, oil and some needful apparatus but my appeal for an assistant has remained unanswered.”
By 1943 the need for a Technical College was discussed and a request for one to be provided was sent to Gloucestershire County Council.
In the 1950’s Gloucestershire spread down all the way to Bristol. Students living in the south of Gloucestershire went into Bristol for their further education at what was called Bristol Technical College. This involved the payment of `out-county' fees to Bristol, which was expensive and brought no tangible benefit to the ratepayers of the county. It was decided to build two colleges near Bristol to take the county’s students, the cost of building being offset by the saving ‘out county' fees. As a result, Filton Technical College was built, at the end of Filton Avenue as it joins the A38.
The College opened in September 1960 with a staff consisting of the Principal, Mr. Kingwell, five lecturers, one secretary and one technician.
Although the College had already started teaching, the official opening was in May 1961. The cost of the original building work was £105,000, which provided the three-story block, a student refectory, kitchen and a workshop block for Engineering, Motor Vehicle and Building classes.
The College recruited 50 full time and 420 part-time students.
By 1969 the tally of Departments had risen to seven: Building Construction,
Business Studies and Management, Engineering, Languages and English, Music, Art and Drama, Science and Mathematics, and Social Studies.
In 1973 Mr Kingwell who had been Principal since the formation of the College left his post and was succeeded by Vice Principal, Dr Brahma Walter.
1980 was a year of celebration: the College had been open for 20 years and made its mark in the education of young people in the area. An `Anniversary Celebration' was held in the Ship Post House at Alveston - tickets £5.50 and it went on till 1.00am.
In 1985 a general inspection of A-levels by HMl’s took place, which received ‘very exceptional’ comments. Filton was one of only two further education colleges in the country to be chosen where examples of good practice could be studied.
Later in the same year Dr Walter retired at the end of the year having been Vice Principal since 1964 and Principal since 1973. Dr Alan Phillips was appointed as the third Principal of the College.
In 1989 control of the Queens Road Bristol School of Art was transferred from the Polytechnic to Filton.
In 1990 the College celebrated 30 years of Filton Technical College. The name changes officially from Filton Technical College to Filton College to better reflect the courses available.
Kevin Hamblin was appointed Principal and Chief Executive of the College in December 2001.
The College had a major development in 2005 when the WISE Campus (West of England Institute of Specialised Education) was opened, at a cost of £17.5 million; a dedicated performing arts, fine art and sport campus.
The origins of Stroud College date back to 1853 with the formation of the Stroud Mutual Improvement Society. This offered lectures and classes in a range of subjects to local people, in a former pub called the Golden Heart in King Street. In 1860 the Stroud School of Art was founded. This also operated in a former pub, the Bedford Arms at 59 High Street, and offered classes in subjects like drawing and painting. In 1874, the two merged to form the Stroud School of Science and Art, which eventually became Stroud College.
By 1914 the College grew in subjects and student numbers. There was a strong emphasis on commercial subjects: shorthand, bookkeeping, typewriting, business methods, geography, and correspondence. The College also offered Engineering, building construction and maths. Reflecting the strong textile traditions of Stroud there was a Textile department with courses in weaving and designing, loom tuning, and a big emphasis on the manufacture of woollen yarns. The Art department offered painting and drawing, embroidery, woodcarving, jewellery making, and clay modelling.
In 1929 the Art section of Stroud Technical School became a separate institution with its own head with the revived title of Stroud School of Art, continuing to operate at Lansdown. In 1930, apparently following an inspection critical of the joint management arrangements between the Technical School and the Marling School, the Stroud Technical School acquired its own head and separate governance arrangements. As a symbol of this new independence it was re-named Stroud and District Technical School. Four years later, in 1934 it changed its name again to Stroud and District Technical College, with the transfer of the technical courses and students from the Brimscombe Polytechnic.
By 1954 the College, now called the Stroud & District Technical College had moved to new buildings in Stratford Road. Details of the opening ceremony in are on the wall in the Learning Centre. By 1964 Courses had expanded greatly and were organised in seven departments: Building; Commerce; Domestic Science; Engineering; Liberal Studies (‘O’ and ‘A’ levels); Science; and Textiles. The college no longer offered Art classes. Art classes remained at Lansdown under the Gloucestershire College of Art, which covered Stroud and Cheltenham.
In 1988 the college was re-named Stroud College. In 1990 Stroud College (re-) acquired the Lansdown building together with its art courses and staff. In the following year, 1991, the County Council established a new college in Cirencester, and as part of its facilities transferred to it the premises and courses that Stroud College had been offering in that town.
South Gloucestershire & Stroud College
South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) is the new college formed by the merger between Stroud College and Filton College. These two successful colleges merged in February 2012, to give our students more choice, greater opportunities and a wider range of facilities from a single, larger college.
At SGS, we have three main campuses – Stroud, Filton and WISE – as well as many local community venues, and we welcome around 15,500 full-time and part-time students of all ages every year. We also have centres in the centre of Bristol, at the West of England Academy of Art and at the Bristol Zoo & Gardens.
As a merged college, we now offer an even wider range of vocational and academic courses, in an even greater range of subjects.
Even though we are a bigger college, we are committed to giving each and every one of our students the best possible education.