Food and Nutrition and Design Technology

Food and Nutrition and Design Technology

The 1988 Education Reform Act gave rise to the National Curriculum which was implemented in the early 1990s. Always willing to adapt to changes in education, Queen’s embraced the increased emphasis on practical subjects notably in design technology, computer science and home economics. To deliver these subjects Queen’s invested in a building with the necessary facilities including a large workshop, a room full of computers, a space for electronics, another for graphics and design and well-appointed kitchens.

On the morning of Speech Day 1994, the Duchess of Kent visited the school and officially opened the new complex. She arrived in a motorcade with police outriders early in the afternoon having earlier parked her helicopter on the school fields. Escorted by the Headmaster, C.T, Bradnock, the Duchess talked with keen interest to the pupils who lined her route  from the front steps, through the arch, past the Queen’s Hall and on to the CDT centre. There, she was introduced to Paul Hodgson, who had retired as Headmaster in 1991, after whom the building was named. This was despite his protestations that he had none of the practical skills either in making things or in cooking that would be encouraged in this fine place. A bouquet was presented to the Duchess by the youngest boy and the youngest girl in Pre-Prep, William King and Samantha Miller respectively. After a tour of the Hodgson Building, the Royal visit concluded in the Queen’s Hall with words of thanks and the choir sang the national anthem after which the Duchess departed by helicopter. It was a sunny day in all respects and a fitting way to end a year of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the school in 1843. 

Bob Dominy, who was fully involved in the planning and execution of the building, was the driving force behind the project and under his leadership the new complex proved its worth. Pupils were keen to embrace the opportunities it afforded and those involved competed successfully in national engineering competitions constructing a winning racing car one year.

In 2019, the design and technology section was re-equipped to cater more effectively for engineering. Funding the project was possible because of the bequest of George Hardwick, OQ. He was a mechanical engineer and inventor of some standing who, in his career, had been commissioned by many well-known companies including Rolls Royce. It was fitting that this section of the building should be called the George Hardwick Centre. It was equally appropriate that on 24 January 2020, the official opening of the centre was carried out by Richard Browning, OQ, – the inventor of the jet suit and founder of the company, Gravity. Earlier that afternoon, Richard had demonstrated his invention on the Lower in front of the whole school.

With the appointment of Yvonne Mackey as Head of Food Science this subject was introduced to all year groups and became increasingly popular with GCSE and A Level students. When she moved abroad her successor was Joe Mann. He has enhanced the profile of the subject even further. This is partly due to his enthusiasm and partly to the increased interest in sustainable farming and healthy eating. To that end, the triangle of land to one side of the Hodgson Building has been cultivated with pupils growing their own crops. In addition, pigs have been kept (elsewhere) and pupils are instructed on the more practical aspects of farming and butchery.     

The land on which the building stands was once rough grassland in which lived a variety of wildlife including pheasants. Boys who enjoyed shooting were inclined to indulge their sport in this area. Alan Tappin, OQ, proudly boasted that he used to shoot a pheasant occasionally and how, once at least, he posted the bird in a tin box to his mother in London asking her to cook it and send the meat back to him. Such activities came to an end by the mid-1950s when Parklands and Channon houses were acquired in 1954 and 1959 respectively and with these purchases the school became responsible for the grassland.

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