Brief History

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					Brief History

The University of Surrey has its origins in the Battersea
Polytechnic Institute founded in 1891 under the City of
London Parochial Charities Act (1883) scheme to
establish Polytechnic Institutes throughout London.
Situated in Battersea Park Road, the Institute was the
second of three proposed Polytechnics for South
London and was formally opened in 1894 with six main
departments: Mechanical Engineering and Building
Trades; Electrical Engineering and Physics; Chemistry;
Women's Subjects and Art and Music.

                                                            Battersea Polytechnic, Battersea Park Road c.1910

                                                            The Polytechnic, which dropped the word 'Institute' from
                                                            its title in 1898, was well-established by 1900 although
                                                            courses were mainly part-time. From 1901 the Principal,
                                                            S H Wells promoted the establishment of ‘feeder’
                                                            institutes for the Polytechnic. Through the employment
                                                            of teachers recognised by the University of London full-
                                                            time degree courses were established and the
                                                            Polytechnic enjoyed considerable academic success
                                                            leading to application for recognition as a School of the
                                                            University in 1911. The application failed but recognition
                                                            of its academic status remained a continuing concern
                                                            for the Polytechnic. The increasingly academic nature of
                                                            the courses led to an investigation by the City Parochial
                                                            Foundation but the Polytechnic was able to prove that
                                                            the majority of its advanced students came from the
                                                            poorer classes.
The first student rag event in Battersea Park Road

During the years 1927 to 1939 the Polytechnic
consolidated with a growing emphasis on science and
engineering and the addition of metallurgy but the
closure of the Art Department. Post-war expansion was
curtailed by the site at Battersea despite the separation
in 1950 of the Domestic College, successor of the
original Women's Subjects Department. However, this
did not prevent the Polytechnic being designated a
College of Advanced Technology in 1956 and the name
was changed the following year to Battersea College of
Technology. In 1966 it received its charter as a
University, the decision to move from London having
already been made. Building began on the site adjacent
to Guildford Cathedral and the University of Surrey
started the move to its new premises in 1968. The
Battersea site was completely vacated by 1970.
                                                            Part of the rag procession in 1962
                                                            In April 1991 the University was awarded the Queen's
                                                            Award for Export Achievement and in February 1997
                                                            the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further
                                                            Education in recognition of the University's outstanding
                                                            achievement in satellite engineering and
                                                            communications, teaching and research by the Centre
                                                            for Satellite Engineering and its associated companies.
                                                            In 1998 in recognition of the long standing relationship
                                                            between the University of Surrey and the Roehampton
                                                            Institute, London, the two institutions decided to form an
                                                            academic federation. This unique partnership was
                                                            approved by the Privy Council in 1999 and the Federal
                                                            University comprised the University of Surrey, Guildford
                                                            and the University of Surrey, Roehampton. On 1st
                                                            August 2004 Roehampton became a University in its
                                                            own right as Roehampton University but the two
                                                            Universities continue to support collaborative activities.
Construction of the main University campus at Stag
Hill in Guildford c.1967

Published Histories
Copies of the following books are available for reference in the University Archives and in the University Library.

Arrowsmith, H. – Pioneering in Education for the Technologies: the Story of Battersea College of Technology 1891-
1962. University of Surrey Press, 1966.

Douglas, Roy – Surrey - the Rise of a Modern University from the Foundation of Battersea in 1891 to the Silver
Jubilee of the University of Surrey 1991. University of Surrey Press, 1991.

Pick, Christopher – Understanding the Real World- a Visual History of the University of Surrey. University of Surrey
Press, 2002

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