When the College first opened in 1887, its location appeared far more rural than it is today. The founder, Thomas Holloway, spent a great deal of time considering the position of the College.
“The relative advantages of various sites were maturely considered by him [Thomas Holloway], and he decided in favour of Mount Lee, Egham, chiefly on account of the great healthfulness and beauty of the situation and the large extent of the grounds, which would enable the students to lead a thoroughly open-air country life.” The extract was taken from the Royal Holloway College for Women Prospectus, 1895 (RHC AR/240/1)
Aerial Photo of Royal Holloway College for Women circa 1920
Those living here did not enjoy regular access to nearby London that students do today. Trains to London were infrequent and certainly there were no bus services, only horse drawn cabs.
On the lack of transport one lady had some very interesting comments to make:
“We were cut off from the rest of the University and from London by sheer lack of transport; few trains, no late theatre trains, no Green Line. I’m told that there was an occasional horse-drawn bus down the Hill, I suppose to Staines and perhaps to Windsor. There was a little pony-shay which could be hired by people able to drive it, and there were horse-cabs; but the only way to get to the station or to the river, apart from the above, was by bicycle or on one’s feet.”- Royal Holloway College, 1908-1914 by W.E. Delp, Lecturer in German 1908-1944 (RHC RF/136/1)
The fact that the College estate was surrounded by a wall further enhanced the College's enclosed atmosphere. Until the Second World War there was only one telephone for the whole College, located in the Porter's Room.
The College's isolation from the University of London was in part due to Thomas Holloway's plan for the College to be a women's university in its own right. The College did not actually have any connections with the University of London until 1899 when it became a school of the University.