Bristol University Facts

A Memory of Bristol

While Bristol may be better known nowadays for being home to Wallace and Gromit than to a top-class university, its college has gained a reputation as a science leader, particularly in medicine and engineering. Founded in 1909, Bristol is a relatively new university by British standards, but it's among the most competitive. Only one in ten students is accepted.

University College, Bristol, which opened in 1876 with two professors, five lecturers and just 99 students, was the first in the country to admit men and women on an equal footing.The University of Bristol opened in 1909 with 288 undergraduates and 400 other students. Here are some important dates.

1872 - John Percival, headmaster of Clifton College, writes a letter to the Oxford colleges stressing the absence of a university culture in the provinces.

1874 - Public meeting held in the Victoria Rooms to promote a 'College of Science and Literature for the West of England and South Wales'.

1876 - College council rents a house in Park Row. It's the first in the country to open its doors to men and women on an equal basis. Thirty men and 69 women register.

1877 - Alfred Marshall appointed first principal. He teaches evening classes while his wife, Mary Paley, the first woman lecturer, teaches women during the day.

1881 - The college finds itself in severe financial difficulties. William Ramsay takes over as principal.

1905 - The Blind Asylum - where the Wills building now stands - is purchased with money donated by the Fry and Wills families.

1906 - University committee formed. Lewis Fry is chairman and Morris Travers is secretary.

1908 - Henry Overton (H O) Wills says that he will give £100,000 to endow a university for Bristol and the West of England.

1909 - Bristol Corporation grants the proceeds of a penny rate (about 7,000 a year) for the new university.

1909 - Charter signed by the king, creating the University of Bristol. H O Wills is named as the first chancellor.

1909 - Clifton Hill House opens as the first hall of residence for women.

1912 - Viscount Haldane appointed chancellor.

1913 - George and Henry Herbert Wills announced their intention to erect a university building in memory of their father, H O Wills.

1920 - Helen Wodehouse appointed to the chair of education.

1920 - George Wills buys the Victoria Rooms for use as a students' union.

1924 - Department of extra-mural adult education set up.

1925 - Wills Memorial Building opened by King George V.

1927 - H. H. Wills Physics Building opened by Ernest Rutherford.

1929 - Winston Churchill becomes chancellor.

1931 - Winifred Lucy Shapland appointed the first female registrar of any British university.

1940 - Wills Memorial Building bombed. The Great Hall is destroyed.

1946 - First drama department in the country established.

1958 - Foundation stone of the Queen's Building laid by Sir Winston Churchill. It is opened by the Queen seven years later.

1965 - Students' Union building opens in Queen's Road.

1965 - Duke of Beaufort becomes chancellor.

1968 - An 11-day student sit-in takes place at Senate House.

1970 - Professor Dorothy Hodgkin appointed chancellor.

1988 - Norah Fry Centre established for research into learning difficulties.

1989 - Sir Jeremy Morse appointed chancellor.

2000 - Bristol Enterprise Centre launched to encourage the establishment and growth of technology-based businesses.

2001 - Professor Eric Thomas appointed vice-chancellor.

2002 - Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health opened in Tyndall Avenue.

2004 - Dorothy Hodgkin Building, a centre for integrative neuroscience and endocrinology research, opens.

2004 - Baroness Hale becomes chancellor.

2005 - The Queen opens the Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering.

2006 - The new botanic garden opens.

A memory shared by Paul Townsend , on Dec 28th, 2009.

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