QEF Training College

QEF A gardening trainee at the Training College, 1947

A gardening trainee at the Training College, 1947

On 1st November 1934 the College received its first sixteen trainees. Courses included engineering, house painting, handyman skills, gardening, cookery, and clerical work. When war was declared the college was officially recognised as part of the Disabled Section of the Munitions Training Scheme of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. This was munitions training in engineering, welding, and tracing.

Over the years the courses offered changed according to the job market, as the College’s main purpose was to get people with disabilities into the workplace. In the 1940s this included spray painting, pottery, bookbinding, needlework, and leatherwork.

In the 1970s this include bookkeeping, shorthand, and telephone switchboard operating. In 1982 the first computer programming course was offered.

A trainee word processing on the Rair Black Box at the Training College, 1982.

A trainee word processing on the Rair Black Box at the Training College, 1982.

By the 1990s all courses lead to NVQ or other awarding bodies qualifications. Courses included accountancy, business administration, I.T., desktop publishing, spreadsheeting, travel services, along with manual skills such as horticulture, draughting, bench joinery, and domestic appliance servicing.


A summary of Diane and Duncan Ashlee’s oral history interview, with a selection of key quotes, is available to download as a pdf (PDF) document.


A summary of Roy Turner’s oral history interview, with a selection of key quotes, is available to download as a pdf (PDF) document.

On 12th January 1989 there was a large fire at Leatherhead Court, much of the college being devastated by the fire. Sixty firemen tackled the blaze and there were no casualties. Trainees only missed 11 days of training. On 12th November 1992 the Queen Mother reopened Leatherhead Court, 57 years after her first visit.

Text and images courtesy of the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People.

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