Wednesday, 16 May 2012
She later wrote in her autobiography "Testament of Youth"
When Vera Brittain took the exam in Leek in July 1914 Europe was descended into the carnage of the First World War. In the previous month the Archduke Franz Ferdinand the heir to the throne of the Austrian crown was shot dead by a Serbian nationalist. On the day that a doubtful Vera left Leek Austria declared war on Serbia whom it blamed for harbouring the terrorists who had assassinated the Archduke. On August 4th Britain fulfilling a treaty obligation of century earlier to defend Belgian neutrality against aggression declared war on Germany.
The Technical College in Leek that Vera Brittain was so dismissive about was part of the complex within the Nicholson Institute, founded in 1892 as part of a national drive to improve the technical expertise of the nation. Classes that were run from the college included practical classes on cookery, handicrafts and silk manufacturer. Possibly some of the smelly 16 year olds that Vera complained about were completing some of these courses.