Ashburne Hall was first created in 1899 and soon became a symbol of the move toward equality in terms of female academia. Prior to the creation of Ashburne Hall, John Owens had created a male only cohort at the university and it wasn’t until an act of parliament that the barrier preventing women attending university was broken down. With this came the problem of housing these women, and the answer came in the form of Ashburne Hall.
Ashburne Hall began as a small hall of residence with only 9 students. This number quickly began to increase and in 1901, due to the sheer amount of applications, a new wing was built. This then led to the creation of a larger Fallowfield estate, which was subsequently turned into ‘Ashburne Hall’, with the old building renamed as ‘Egerton hall’ on the 22nd October 1910.
The First World War had a major impact on Ashburne Hall, and not only on the building itself. It also highlighted the community spirit of the hall, along with the students’ willingness to help out no matter what the situation. For example, students would often greet wounded soldiers at the train station with tea and cigarettes, and many students also became resident Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (V.A.D.s).
The interwar years saw the re-emergence of the link between Ashburne Hall and the welfare of women within the education system. Ashburne Hall played its part in The Women’s Suffrage Bill being passed, including Mrs Hope Hogg’s (warden from 1917-30) creation a scholarship open to completion for all female scholars.
The community spirit of Ashburne is again highlighted in the annual plays with Hulme Hall. This can be seen in the social aspect of sitting down and chatting with lecturers who have lived within the halls, along with the traditions of the Halloween and Christmas parties.
However this was tested during World War II, and yet again the Ashburnians rose to the occasion. Parts of the building were turned into air raid shelters and, since many of the nurses’ accommodation had been bombed, they were allowed to live within the halls of Ashburne, being heavily involved in the ‘dig for victory’ campaign. Despite this, exam results thrived.
Now Ashburne Hall still stands tall with grandeur. A hall like no other. Although some traditions may have disappeared or changed, the spirit and focus of Ashburne are still very much alive and kicking.