RETIRED academic Bob Owen from Almondbury recently published a book, reviewed on this page, entitled Memories of Holly Bank.
In this he charted the rise and fall of Huddersfield College of Education (Technical) at Holly Bank.
He dealt with its achievements, peculiarities and personalities and recorded that “during my 42 years of industrial and educational experience, nothing compared to my halcyon days at Holly Bank.’’
The internet, for all its foibles, makes information available instantly all round the world – and Bob’s halcyon days were quickly echoed by Joseph Zahra who lives in the beautiful Maltese seaside town of Pembroke.
He wrote to Bob asking for a copy of his book.
Bob was first a part-time student (1968-70) there, then a principal lecturer (1972-77) in production management, so he missed Joseph, who was one of the first overseas students to start at the college in 1960/61.
“I was in the Motor Vehicle Group with two others from Trinidad and one from Tanganyika,” says Joseph.
He was required to spend a year at Ramsden Technical College to bring his qualifications up to scratch before starting at Holly Bank.
“Our coming to Britain was because we were beneficiaries of a bursary scheme which the British Government had launched to help Commonwealth students,” Joseph recalls.
“Thanks largely to the training I received at Holly Bank I feel I made quite a career in teaching classes for mechanical engineering subjects, mostly at Technician and Higher Technician level.
“Eventually I was promoted to a rank in which in England you would call a principal.
“For my last five years before retiring I represented the Malta Government in a project with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).”
Despite having reached retirement age 21 years ago, Joseph still chairs the Malta Trade Testing Board in an appointment by the Minister of Education on the recommendation of the island’s Employment and Training Corporation.
“I am indebted to the tutors at Holly Bank and especially to the principal himself, Alexander MacLennan,’’ says Joseph.
“He was a great influence on me and to this day I adhere to his maxims.”
Mr MacLennan took Joseph for teaching methods in science and technology.
Other staff he remembers were Mr Austwick (maths), Dorothy Comley, Mr Evans, Frank Barr, Walter Corns, Jim Pratt and Leslie White.