Graphical version

University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion

COX, Ethel E (d 1979)


Reference code(s): GB 2159 Ethel Cox Collection

Held at: University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion

Title: COX, Ethel E (d 1979)

Date(s): 1915-1965

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 16 volumes, 993 photographs

Name of creator(s): Cox | Ethel E | d 1979 | Headmistress of Barrett Street Trade School


Administrative/Biographical history:

Ethel E Cox was English Mistress at Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls Trade School from 1911 to 1915, and the first Principal of Barrett Street Trade School from 1915 to 1950. She was an English graduate and ensured that "dramatic literature" featured on the curriculum. Miss Cox and the trade staff of Barrett Street Trade School had close working relationships with many West End firms, some of whom donated materials for students use. Many girls either went to work or were working for these firms, and attended day or day release courses. Traditionally the firms' representatives would attend the school's annual exhibition of work to select their future employees. Ethel Cox died in 1979, aged 93.

Courses at Barrett Street Trade School included dressmaking, ladies tailoring, embroidery and hairdressing and beauty. Men's tailoring and furrier courses were established later. Pupils joined the school from the age of 12 following elementary education, and trained for two years, primarily for work in London's West End couturier houses and hair salons. Women were employed in the ready-to-wear trade centred on London's East End, or in the fashionable dressmaking and allied trades in the West End, based around the South Kensington and Oxford Street areas. All pupils followed a curriculum that was two-thirds trade subject and one-third general education. Following the success of the full time courses Barrett Street started to run a variety of day release and evening courses for women already working in the trade.

After the Second World War and the 1944 Education Act, which required pupils to continue full time general education until 15, Barrett Street School was given technical college status. The junior courses were discontinued and senior courses expanded. Management courses were introduced. Barrett Street Trade School was renamed Barrett Street Technical College, and after 1950, began to take on male students. The college amalgamated with Shoreditch College for the Garment Trades in 1967 to form the London College for the Garment Trades, later renamed the London College of Fashion.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Ethel E Cox, 1915-1965, comprising papers compiled as Headmistress of Barrett Street Trade School, namely photographs, programmes and invitations relating to the opening of Barrett Street Trade School extension, 1928; photographs of the 'Roamers' student outings, 1930-1939, including to Hampton Court, Kew Gardens, Windsor and Eton, Greenwich, Royal Holloway College, St Albans, Cambridge; photographs of sports days and exhibitions, 1930-1949;

programmes for evening classes and special lectures, 1915-1940; programmes, flyers, correspondence, press cuttings and photographs relating to London County Council 'Lectures for Distributors', on Gloves, Underwear, China, Glass And Earthenware, Salesmanship, Hosiery, Fashion, Colour, Textiles, given at Barrett Street and organised by the School, [1933-1951]; programmes for Christmas services, 1935-1950; photographs and students' essays of their memories of Coronation Day (coronation of George VI), 1937; correspondence and cards commemorating the 'Silver Jubilee' of Barrett Street, 1940; photographs of Barrett Street Dramatic Society plays, [1917]-1936;

diary of Elsie Thompson on the evacuation of the school to Maidenhead during World War Two, [1941-1945]; evacuation projects by students, containing photographs, correspondence, programmes and press cuttings relating to the evacuation of the School to Maidenhead, [1940-1945];

photographs of retirement luncheon given for Miss Cox, 1950; speech to Miss Cox on her retirement, 1950;

photographs and press cuttings of a Royal Visit, 1965; scrapbook of press cuttings relating to the school, 1950-1959; prospectuses, 1915-1963;

photographs, press cuttings and exhibition programmes of students' work, 1936, 1937; photographs of the annual exhibition and dress parade, 1938; photographs of the fashion show, 'Fashion For Beaux & Belles', 1958; black and white photographs of womenswear and some menswear made by students, interior scenes of the school and classes including dressmaking, embroidery, tailoring, hairdressing, beauty culture and keep-fit, 1915-1960s;

register and subject marks book, containing students' names, 1953-1954;

name and address book, 1946-1953; visitors' book for Open Days, 1953-1965.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The papers are unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Access to the collection is by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying is permitted although photographs may be taken at the discretion of the Head of Learning Resources.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

The papers are uncatalogued.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated by Miss Cox on her retirement and at later dates.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Many of the photographs have been digitially copied and are available on the Visual Arts Data Service website,

Related material:

Records of Barrett Street Trade School, [1904]-1966, and the London College of Fashion, 1967-2002, are held by London College of Fashion Library.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002

Clothing | Textiles
Fashion | Customs and traditions | Cultural heritage
Photographs | Visual materials
Textile arts | Handicrafts
Vocational schools | Higher education institutions | Educational institutions
Vocational training | Training
War | International conflicts
Women teachers | Teachers | Educational personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
World War Two (1939-1945) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)
Technical education
Vocational education

Personal names
Cox | Ethel E | d 1979 | Headmistress of Barrett Street Trade School
Thompson | Elsie | fl 1941-1945 | student at Barrett Street Trade School

Corporate names
Barrett Street Technical College x Barrett Street Trade School

Barrett Street | St Marylebone | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Maidenhead | Berkshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Westminster | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
City of Westminster