Edward”Eddie” Burnett- As one of the very first cohort in 1952, recalled that he left school at 15 went to see Arthur and was lucky enough to get one of the 16 places in the opening year. “Our instructors/ lecturers and at this time were all fantastic and Arthur was personally teaching Catering commodities and French. He remembered the great excitement preparing the Afternoon Tea when Prince Philip came through the kitchens and stopped to speak to most of the students. 

Joan Marchmont (nee Hopkins and known as “Hoppy” in her student days). She was a member of the first cohort 1952-54. Remembering the events that led to the official opening was the hard work involved but it was great fun and they were like a family. She makes special note that the training was excellent and held her on the straight and narrow path during difficult times later.

Ann Pink (Nee Elizabeth Ann Morgan) Enrolled on the second intake in 1953 in her words because she was seeking something different to do as from her secondary grammar school, as she was being pressurised into teaching or secretarial work. These were the obvious choices for girls at this time. She commuted daily to the college and recalled that her group catered for a number of civic functions, the major one being for the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  

Dennis Lillicrap.

I was a full-time student on the Department of Hotel and Catering from 1953-1956, having joined as a two-year full time student and on completion of this was encouraged by Arthur Simms to continue for a further year and take the Associate Membership of the Hotel and Catering Institute Membership Examinations. I believe that I was the first full-time student at Portsmouth to pass this and would put it down to Arthur’s belief in me and the encouragement he and his team gave to me. But for him I would not have achieved all I have within my teaching career. I have many happy memories of my three years as a full-time student and the programmes I followed were well structured and disciplined, leaving some time for social activities and allowed one to mature as an individual.

Peter Merewether MBE


I entered the Hotel & Catering industry on the 1st October 1945 in the month in which I became 16 years of age.  My parents and their seven children of whom I was the oldest were then living in Weston Super Mare and with no funds to put me into technical education.  An interview arranged through a family friend with the Chef of the Grill kitchen At that time men were returning from wartime in the services to retake their positions as Chefs de parties, and the Commis Cooks included a number of young men (yes it was an all male community) most of whom had been recruited from 'Monsieur Vincent's boys' at Westminster College. at the Savoy Hotel, London, gained me employment there at £2 per week as a so-called apprentice cook.


Mike Boella

I intended to follow in the footsteps of my father who had two restaurants and a coffee bar in Southampton, but went for job advice to the manager of the Polygon Hotel who recommended college. His father knew of Lausanne but this was too expensive, although in later life I was to become a visiting lecturer there. The Polygon hotel manager mentioned Portsmouth and this led to an interview with Arthur for a September start in 1955, providing that he achieved five O’levels, although in Michael’s view Arthur was a little desperate for numbers. However he did fortunately obtain these O’levels and joined a group of 12 that included Peter Mereweather,

Pat Jacob, George Pallot, Vicki Hamilton, Paddy Bush and Marie Middleton. Students already there were Joan Perkins, David Ireland, D. Holland Freddie Watts and Celia. Bryan.

Jennifer Willoughby (nee Carter) 1955-57 recalls that every one of the lecturers treated the students with respect and was respected in return. It was a pleasure to work with all of them and it was some of the happiest years of her life and she could not learn enough. This was surprising as she hated school so much but found the atmosphere at Anglesea Road happy and free from fear. This was her enduring memory. One other was Mr. Land recalling his student days when he and others would play tricks on customers.


Freddie and Joan Watts – both former students between 1957 and 1960 also became much a part of the Alumni of the college. Both were instrumental in setting up and administering a number of reunions of past students. They have also been instrumental in seeking wider recognition of Arthur’s achievements during his lifetime. Sadly in spite of their efforts this was not achieved. In Freddie’s words “Arthur was a man who had a way of asking you to do something in a manner in which you could not refuse!” 


Professor Alan Harrison


Carrying the haggis!


I did the two year Craft course before going into the second year of the HCI course.  In my first year, January of course, Arthur's attention to detail had indicated I would go and carry the haggis at a Burns Dinner in Fratton in 1958.  I never knew he knew about my Scottish origins. After the HCI exams a group of us went to Hayling Island to sunbathe - I got word that Arthur wanted to see me, it was the third time he had sent for me and if I didn't hurry up I'd end up as a Welsh Rarebit - appropriate when the sun was so hot that his alternative might have been welcome.