Brookes’ eldest living alumni are reunited at 150th anniversary celebration

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Doris and Phyllis

Two very special guests were reunited at a celebration which marked Oxford Brookes’ official 150th anniversary on Friday (22 May).

Phyllis Timbs and Doris Simms, both 96, studied Economics and Short-hand typing at what was then the Oxford Schools of Technology, Art and Commerce in 1935 when they were 16 years old. 

I would like to say thank you to Flintlock Theatre for putting on a wonderful performance and telling our story with so much passion and creativity...It certainly made the audience feel a part of the 150-year journey and proud to be a part of Brookes’ future.

Vice Chancellor Alistair Fitt, Oxford Brookes University

The pair attended Friday’s event with other special guests, alumni and friends of the University, to mark the official anniversary of Oxford Brookes on the exact date the Oxford School of Art opened in 1865. 

Speaking about her time at the school, Doris said: “I was a pupil for a year at the college just after I left grammar school and before I got my first job.

“Technology, art and commerce were the three things that were necessary for people who had left school. Not many of us could go to college at that time and I loved it there. I grew up there.”

 

Students and staff in our Victorian-style photo booth

Held at the Taylor Institution where the School of Art was first based, Friday’s event centred on a special performance by Flintlock Theatre.  

Written by Anna Glynn, Educating Oxford told the story of Oxford Brookes beginning with its origins, the development of the institution, and the people who were the driving force behind the institution flourishing into the internationally renowned University it is today. 

Flintlock Theatre performing in JHB Lecture Theatre

Anna wrote about the development of the play in a University Life article for the Oxford Mail in May. She explained: “The play Educating Oxford has been entirely informed by the recollections of former students, by actual speeches delivered at key moments in the University’s evolution and, crucially, by the soundtrack of the generations that passed through its doors and the incredible list of bands that played at the Brookes student union.

“The piece is infused with the vibrancy, warmth, tenacity and humour of 150 years of passionate leaders, fun-loving students and ardent supporters of a place that has enabled countless people to fulfil their dreams and carve out meaningful and fulfilling lives.”

Oxford Brookes website got a Victorian style makeover

After seeing the play at the Taylor Institution on Friday, Vice Chancellor Alistair Fitt said: “I would like to say thank you to Flintlock Theatre for putting on a wonderful performance and telling our story with so much passion and creativity. 

“Flintlock were able to capture 150 years in just 30 minutes and represented some very special individuals such as Dean Liddell, the Duke of Marlborough, Dora Cohen, Kenneth Wheare and of course John Henry Brookes, who were such a significant part of our history. 

“I know that many members of staff who watched the play felt warmed and touched by the performance. It certainly made the audience feel a part of the 150-year journey and proud to be a part of Brookes’ future."

Flintlock Theatre performing Educating Oxford

Earlier in the day current staff and students attended a pre-showing of 'Educating Oxford' in the John Henry Brookes Lecture Theatre on the Headington Campus. A Victorian-style photo booth with props was also set up to capture the fun. The Oxford Brookes website also got a make-over for the day to mark the special celebrations - you can still view our vintage homepage here!

Flintlock Theatre will perform Educating Oxford once again at Oxford Brookes’ offering for Oxford Open Doors in September. You can still explore our history via the 150 digital timeline on the Brookes website.