Student reunion held to mark the closure of the Wisbech horticultural station

THE horticultural station at the College of West Anglia in Wisbech closes this summer, and its demise was marked by a reunion of around 150 students who have attended the land-based college campus over the past 55 years.

Ex-students and staff came from far and wide to attend a dinner, and take a look at memorabilia and swap their student memories at the event held at Elme Hall Hotel.

Organiser Richard Walpole, who used to be in charge of the station, said: “One student from our opening year of 1956, Richard Hutchinson, came along to the reunion, he has had a distinguished career in horticulture.” Also attending were three ex-principals, Ioan Morgan, Fred Shorten and John Whittington.

Since its opening in 1956 as the Isle of Ely College and Horticultural Institute, the horticultural station has operated in several guises. It later became the Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, and more recently has been combined with the College of West Anglia. Next year, horticultural students will study at the college’s campus in Milton.

Richard, who is adult education co-ordinator for the college at Wisbech, said: “There have been at lease 10,000 full time students at the hortic station, as well as part time and evening class students.

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“Students have studied horticulture, floristry, countryside activities, game keeping, agriculture, machinery and mechanisation, small animal care and equine care. Some have gone on to become National Trust head gardeners, landscape gardeners, zookeepers and to work for the Environment Agency and English Nature.

“It was lovely to meet up with up with former students, and it was poignant to have a reunion to mark the closure.”

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During the reunion, students were able to take a look at the book Richard has written to chart the history of the hortic station The 40-page book, that contains class photos from 1971-1998, costs �20 and can be ordered from Richard on 01945 410772.

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