20th Century

York St John in the 20th Century

1977 Prospectus Cover

It is a bitter reminder of the impact of the first World War that in 1916 St John's College was forced to shut because there were no male students.  The building was requisitioned as a military hospital until it re-opened in 1919.  The women's college at Ripon remained open and the women made clothes, bandages and splints for the war effort.

1953 was a busy year for the York college.  As well as being granted a new crest, a new library was opened (now the Students’ Union building), along with new facilities at another campus at Heworth, just outside the city centre.

Less than ten years later, in 1962, the men’s college was invited to expand to 400 places, making it the second largest church college in the country.   In 1966 the chapel, which is still used today, was opened and in 1969 a swimming pool and squash courts (since demolished) were built on the main site at Lord Mayor's Walk. 

The Two Colleges Merge

By 1971 York St John’s College had 950 students and the Ripon College had 580.  This was not large enough to survive in the political landscape in the early 1970s.  A govenment White Paper in 1972 encouraged smaller colleges to "expand and diversify, either alone or by joining forces with a sister college...". 

Ripon and York took note and, as Gordon McGregor says,

"The two Principals asked both governing bodies to approve the declaration not later than October [1973]...The preferred date for amalgamation would be September 1975, though they recognised that 1976 was more realistic...Miss Gage (Principal Ripon) had made clear her intention to retire within two or three years so there was no risk of rivalry between Principals."

In 1974 the name was changed to the 'College of Ripon and York St John' and the two colleges officially became a single institution in 1975.  The College continued to grow, by the 1990's there were seven sites in use by students in York and a 52-acre site in Ripon.


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