Miss Harrison

no-picture-square3Gwendolen Rhoda Harrison, 23, (1910-1971) a B.Sc. graduate of the women’s Bedford College in Regents’ Park, London, a present or future schoolteacher, attending the dinner with her father A.E. Harrison, soon to be the general manager of Time and Tide.

Gwen may well have invited King’s College students Phyllis Crossley and Marian Hodson to the dinner. Bedford College also had connections with King’s and were all now within the ambit of the University of London.   


Perhaps her father, but the occasion might have been better spent in conversation with retired head teacher Jessie White who perhaps could have helped her in her career? Or chatting with fellow students Marian Hodson and Miss Phyllis Crossley.


Perhaps finding out more about the Time and Tide world which was to be her father’s new habitat. An enthusiastic young woman looking to make her way in the world, in the presence of many women who have done just that?


Gwendolen Rhoda Harrison was born on 1st March 1910 in Cardiff (219 Mackintosh Place in 1911), the (only?) daughter of Edith Mari Rhoda Down, born on 28th November 1881, Plympton, Devon, and Albert Edward Harrison, newspaper manager, born in 1884, in Battersea, London. She was educated at Roath Park School, 1917-1920 and the High School for Girls, Cardiff, 1920-1929 before moving to London to study for her B.Sc. at Bedford College for Women, part of the University of London.  Gwen had gained exemption from the London Matriculation Examination by virtue of passing the Central Welsh Board Examination, in July 1927, in English, French, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geography and History.  She held two scholarships at Bedford, the Deccan, and the Amy Lady Tate (after the wife of Sir Henry Tate, sugar merchant and founder of the Tate Gallery.[1]  Bedford was the first college to be run by women and at the time was established at its Regent’s Park Site. In 1931 Gwen was living at Swiss College, just north of Regent’s Park, at 25-35 Adamson Road, Hampstead, London, with many other women, presumably a women’s/student hostel?  She was in residence at least during her first term. She would have celebrated her 23rd birthday three weeks before the dinner.


By 1934 Gwen was living with her parents, who had recently moved to London from Cardiff, when her father joined Time and Tide as general manager. In 1934 -35 they were registered as living at 4 Montague Gardens, Acton, and at 43 Woodville Gardens, Ealing in 1936 and 1939. By September 1939 Gwen was a school teacher living at 15 Wellesley Road, Clacton, Essex.

On 2nd March 1940 her engagement was announced to Pilot Officer Leslie Marchant, R.A.F. Volunteer, and schoolmaster (father a plumber) – but perhaps because there was a war on they were not married for another eight years, when she was 38, on 20th April 1948, in Ealing. In 1943 a Gwendoline R Harrison was employed as a Sorting clerk and Telegraphist in Derby, but this may well be someone else.  In 1965 Gwen and Leslie were living at 4 Essex House, Ealing North, W3.

Leslie went on to be the head of a new 1,080 comprehensive school in Slough, making the news in 1966/65 when he and a teacher were (unsuccessfully) sued for assault of a boy by a parent – the boy had been caned.  At the time there was serious bullying at the school, talk of a protection racket, and a gang of 20 in Marchant’s cross-wires. He wasn’t too complimentary about some of the parents either.[2] [3] [4]

Gwen died on 20th July 1971, age 61, when living at 9 Tempsford Court, Sheepscote Road, Harrow, Middlesex. Leslie died on 28th March 1979, also at Tempsford Court.



[1] Bedford College Form of Entrance, accessed via Ancestry.com

[2] Birmingham Daily Post, 22.12.1964 page 17

[3] Daily Mirror, 9.1.1965 page 5

[4] Daily Herald, 2.12.1961

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