Guildford Branch

WEA Guildford Branch

About Us

The Guildford Branch of the WEA has been providing adult education courses since 1933 and we celebrated in style at our 80th birthday in 2013.

We offer daytime and evening courses commencing in September and January. Our courses cover a wide range of subjects. The 2016/2017 programme covers art, appreciation and practical, music, history and gardening.

Course Location

Our classes take place at: The United Reformed Church Centre, 83 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, GU2 4BS.  For directions see:

The United Reformed Church has limited parking and we cannot guarantee parking for class members. The Church is a ten-minute walk from Guildford railway and bus stations and buses from the Artington park and ride stop at the Church.

If you would like to book a place on a course please go to or contact Sally Spicer - phone 01483422372.

In Guildford for more than 80 Years

Early Days 

It all began in September 1933 with a 12 meeting course on Elementary Economics attended by 14 men and 6 women.  However, the WEA did not flourish in Guildford until 1939 when an un-named person recognised that people needed interests to take their minds off the deprivations of war and put the Guildford Branch onto a formal footing.  During the war years, the branch became vigorous.  Led by the Misses Mark and Liggett, the first of many estimable women to have served the WEA in Guildford, the number of members grew and the range of courses and social events expanded.  The membership was boosted by many enthusiastic Czech and Polish refugees.  One course in 1943 about Social Problems and the Beveridge Report attracted 144 people to the first meeting.

All was not sweetness and light.  At the AGM in 1946, a member commented that WEA classes did better in Woking than Guildford because people in Guildford were very 'stodgy' and did not like the word 'worker'.  Two years later Mollie Liggett, by now the branch Chairman, declared that Guildford was not 'WEA-minded'. Despite these misgivings, the branch continued to grow reaching a peak of activity in the sixties and seventies.

Halcyon Years 

By the 1960s the branch was running 6, 12, and 24-week courses, University Sessional courses, a 3-year University Tutorial, weekend schools and summer camps. The WEA regional management expected every course to 'include written work and that at least half of any session was devoted to the discussion'.  They doubted the educational value of the weekend schools and summer camps calling them 'outings'.  Until the sixties, all the courses were held in the evening but in 1962 daytime courses were started with a creche provided so that young mothers could attend.  A paid qualified creche organiser was employed and at first, mothers paid 3/6 (17.5p) per child per meeting.  The creche closed in 1976 when the branch could no longer afford to subsidise it.  When it closed the European Culture class protested in strong language 'We deplore the fact that Guildford WEA is abandoning its historic commitment to the liberation of housebound mothers'.

Social activities multiplied and Guildford WEA rivalled the Young Conservatives as a marriage bureau.  Marriages were frequent and in 1964 the committee joined in when Miss Coogan, the Treasurer, married Mr Shelton.


In the 80s and 90s, enrolments declined to around a 100. Today the branch runs 10 and 20-week courses mainly in the daytime but with some in the evening.  Enrolments are around 175 and growing slowly.   


Branch contact: Sally Spicer

Telephone no: 01483422372

Picture credit: Tristan Ferne