Heritage Open Day 2021: Edible England

Archives and Special Collections look after and provide access to collections of unique and rare material. These include:

  • The institutional archive of the University of Surrey and its predecessor Battersea Polytechnic, founded in 1891 (renamed Battersea College of Technology in 1957). The archive reflects 125 years of organisational activity and records changes to academic and student life at these institutions.
  • Collections relating to the illustrator Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976), best known for his illustrations for Winnie-the-Pooh but also a successful political cartoonist and author.
  • The National Resource Centre for Dance archives. These represent the life and work of performing arts companies, organisations, choreographers, movement theorists, artists, critics, and educators.
  • Special Collections. We hold a range of subject-specific collections, including a Victorian gentleman’s library, reflecting science, literature, art, politics and philosophy; and a collection of books, journals and scores supporting musicology.

For Heritage Open Days this year we are posting a series of blogs over the next 3 days written by one of our alumna, Harriett Nailon. Harriett studied at Battersea College of Technology from 1963-67, gaining a First Class Diploma in Hotel and Catering Management. The diploma course included instruction in French cuisine and high class restaurant service from lecturers who had been trained before the Second World War, by those who maintained the Edwardian traditions of the famous hotelier César Ritz and celebrated chef and culinary writer Auguste Escoffier.

For the Industrial Training component of the Diploma Course Harriett gained experience working with Strand Hotels (part of the J. Lyons group), including supervising room service at The Regent Palace Hotel, London which provided up to 600 full English breakfasts per day! 

In 1967 she won the Waldorf Astoria Prize and spent a year at the world famous hotel on Park Avenue, New York where she assisted with the supervision of banquets for over 1000 guests and worked in the Food and Beverage Control Office for the Hotel’s four restaurants.

After gaining a certificate from the Hotel and Catering Training Board she became a Training Officer at The Strand Palace Hotel in London. Followed by a career break to raise a family; during which time she also worked as an Assessor of Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) courses.

On returning to work Harriett undertook a varied selection of roles, from Manager of a Danish themed restaurant in Guildford to a Senior Lecturer at North London Polytechnic (now the University of North London). She was also the Training Manager at The Regent Palace Hotel, London and the Personnel and Training Manager at The Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge. The Hyde Park Hotel received the RAC 5 Star Hotel of the Year Award in 1992 with a special mention for the room service staff, most of whom attended Harriett’s training sessions. 

Harriett will explore this year’s Heritage Open Days theme ‘Edible England’ through revealing how hospitality in England has improved since 1949, in part because of the impact of courses such as those taught at Battersea.