The Westmorland GazetteBid to bring back Newton Rigg College society (From The Westmorland Gazette)

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Bid to bring back Newton Rigg College society

The Westmorland Gazette: Staff and students at Newton Rigg Farm School in 1896/7 Staff and students at Newton Rigg Farm School in 1896/7

A BID to revive the historic Newton Rigg Society, which folded in the early 1990s, has been launched by a former member.

John Rigg is seeking ex-students and friends of Newton Rigg College to help him resurrect the organisation, which was formed nearly 90 years ago.

Mr Rigg, who was both a student and a lecturer at the Penrith-based College, is asking for anyone with a connection or who has an interest in agriculture in the region to get in touch.

He has already met up with three former women students who, in 1947, all attended a summer dairy course on butter and cheesemaking.

Mr Rigg said Newton Rigg Society’s seeds were sown back in the late 19th century when it was decided to create a permanent base for agricultural education for Cumberland and Westmorland.

To service the twin counties, a fixed Dairy School and Demonstration Farm were created at the newly acquired Newton Rigg farm near Penrith. The first course was to be a summer residential course for female students, which was followed in November 1896 by a residential course for male students.

Mr Rigg, who lives in Penrith, said: “The Newton Rigg Society was set up in the mid 1920s, originally as the Newton Rigg Agricultural Society, and at one time had around 700 members. The society flourished when full time courses were introduced for men and women in 1949.

“Functions were held through the year with farm walks, demonstrations, conferences and a wide range of social events. Travel bursaries were also offered, enabling students to expand their knowledge.”

The society changed in 1950 to include not just students but those across the region with an interest in rural life. It was wound up in the early 1990s, with records and photographs being lost.

“I am very hopeful that we can re-establish it and the college has very kindly offered to provide secretarial support in helping to set up the ‘new’ Newton Rigg Society,” said Mr Rigg.

He was a student at the college between 1952 and 1953 and lectured there between 1957 and 1963. He plans to contact as many former students as possible with the hope of creating a database of contacts and gathering together old documents and photographs relating to the original society.

Anyone wishing to get in touch about the new society should contact Gwendy Byas at Newton Rigg College on alumni@newtonrigg.ac.uk or phone number 01768 893400.

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