Introduction to Park and the PCM project
Hello and a warm welcome!
This is Park Campus Memories (PCM), a tribute project for devotees of beautiful Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, UK - the former home of the University of Northampton (UON).
The majority of the Park site was sold to Persimmon Homes in 2018, and is currently being redeveloped for housing - over 900 dwellings are planned. Two areas of the estate have been retained by UON - the 1990s East Halls (now renamed Boughton Green Road Halls) and Gallagher Sports Field.
This website, and associated Facebook group, are run by a small team of volunteer former students and staff, 'For the love of Park' and the benefit of PCM group members. Our raison d'Ítre is to help preserve and promote the memory of Park and offer free online resources and guidance on the subject.
We are completely independent from the university.
Located on the northern edge of the town, Park Campus opened in autumn 1972 as the home of Northampton College of Education (NCE); A purpose-built centre set in 60 acres of partly-wooded parkland:
"Northampton College of Education represents an entirely new venture which nevertheless has links with the past. When it welcomed its first year students in September 1972 they joined a student body formed by a merger of the Kirkby Fields College of Education, Liverpool, and the Northampton Annexe of the City of Leicester College of Education.
New members of staff were appointed, but many were transferred from the older institutions.
Students thus enjoy a curriculum which emerges from a combination of well-founded traditions and the vigour and adventurousness associated with a new enterprise. The College is a mixed College of 600 students at present and will grow to 800 students in September 1974."
NCE prospectus for 1975 entry, published in summer 1974
Over the course of 46 years, new buildings were added and expansion continued. Yet, the green, parkland character remained. Mature trees and attractive shrubs surrounded modern, spacious buildings (some award-winning) with rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife a familiar part of campus life. Over the decades, thousands of students studied at Park, many enjoying the friendly feel and supportive atmosphere - not to mention the lovely surroundings.
Following the 1975 NCE merger with the town colleges of art and technology at Avenue Campus, Nene College was created, then University College Northampton (UCN) in 1999 and the University of Northampton (UON) in 2005.
In 2012, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nick Petford, proposed UoN move to a new single site* on regenerated land to the south of the town centre. Six years later, Park was sold to housing developer, Persimmon Homes, and the university vacated the majority of the campus. The cost of the new site, Waterside, was £330 million, chiefly funded by loans, with a repayment period of over 40 years. The move has also co-incided with a change in the delivery of academic content, 'Active Blended Learning', as well as new ways of working for staff. The former means there is only one lecture theatre at Waterside, the latter, that many staff have to 'hot desk' in open plan offices.
On 1st November 2018, the handover to Persimmon took place. Within weeks, construction of houses had begun on the front field. In January 2019, the demolition phase started, and Park's familiar buildings began to disappear forever. A rump part of the site, the former East Halls, now Boughton Green Road Halls, as well as Gallagher Sports Field, remains under university ownership. For now at least, some of Park endures.
* The original plans were revised and Avenue Campus retained. The university also operates premises by the railway station, at Northampton General Hospital and has additional halls near the town centre, as well as keeping those at Park.
How did PCM get started?
Despairing at the plans for the destruction of Park, former undergraduate (2000-03) and student campus tour guide, James Lund, resigned himself to the fact that there was nothing he could do to prevent the closure and move. However, James also realised that he could do something positive about the situation - document Park in photos and video. The PCM project was born!
Prof. Petford kindly gave permission for the voluntary venture, and a senior colleague, authorised de-facto 'access all areas'. James worked closely with long-serving member of staff, Matthew Waite, Head of Projects for UON Campus Services, and arguably the leading authority on Park Campus.
"Matthew's help has been absolutely invaluable and greatly enhanced the project," says James. "He has been flexible, generous with his time and is a total professional".
Over the following months, James along with fellow volunteer, former student (1993-96) and member of staff (1996-98), Oliver Hunter, photographed and filmed the buildings and environment at Park, as well as starting to build a collection of documents in scanned form for the project.
With permission from Persimmon Homes, James and Oliver continue to document the demolition and construction at Park.
In the last weeks of Park, James was able to assist Matthew and his team with a number of important tasks. He helped to rescue and sort a large number of documents, and save many plans and papers relating to the history of the site.
We knew there was a lot of love for Park, but have been truly overwhelmed by the success of our tribute Facebook group. Within four months, membership was over 2,000 - a tremendous achievement and vote of confidence in the project! In addition, we have also surpassed the official UON alumni group total!
"Out of the awfulness of the move and destruction has come something wonderful," explains James. "PCM - so many memories shared, new friendships made and old ones re-established, plus a real sense of pride in, and love for, a fantastic and very special place".
We are very grateful to UON for giving us approval to take photos. Our success has given us confidence and weight to lobby the institution on various matters on our members' behalf (and for the good of the university). For example, preservation of the Holdenby / Main Building gold disc mosaic.
Website available in stages
You will note that many elements of this site are marked as 'to follow'. The sheer scale of the project means that it will take a significant amount of time to sort, review and produce the planned content. We think it is best to make available what we have achieved thus far, as soon as possible. Also, we hope that it will significantly help the project, by filling some of the gaps in our downloads collection. Might you be able to help us in this regard?
Whether you are a current or former UON student or member of staff, a local resident, a one-time visitor to Park or simply an interested party, and indeed whatever your reason for looking at this site, we thank you for your interest in our pages, PCM and Park Campus.
The PCM Team
The restaurant in the early morning of 26th Sept 2018
Naseby, looking towards the Dance Studio, 26th Sept 2018
Main car park from the Student Centre, evening of 21st Sept 2018
Holdenby / Main Building and the centre of Park, 11th Aug 2018
The institutions based at Park Campus
Northampton College of Education (NCE)
(from 1988 officially Nene College Higher Education Corporation)
University College Northampton (UCN)
(officially University College Northampton Higher Education Corporation)
University of Northampton (UON)
Heading the college / uni
Principal / Director
Dr. Eric Ogilvie
Dr. S. Martin Gaskell
Vice Chancellor (2005-2010)
Mrs Ann Tate
Prof Nick Petford
This way for memories of Park Campus!
The glorious bronze Sun Horse on 26th March 2018