Quintin Hogg envisaged the Polytechnic as a multi-faceted institution that would develop the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual elements of its members. As well as social and sporting clubs it provided classes in technical skills and trades for London’s workers. The London County Council (LCC) was impressed with Hogg’s holistic vision and from 1891 began funding the Regent Street Polytechnic as an institution for ‘the promotion of the industrial skills, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes’. Hogg’s Poly was used as a model for a network of Polytechnics established across London.

In the 1880s over 10,000 people a year were studying at the Polytechnic and around half of them were also members of its social and sporting clubs.  Classes were mainly taught in the evening in order for students to attend after work.  They covered a wide range of subjects, including engineering, architecture, photography, brick-laying, carpentry, commerce, banking, English, art, and languages.  After World War Two there was a dramatic expansion in higher education in the UK and the Poly began to include more arts subjects such as sociology and history.

In May 1970 the Poly merged with Holborn College of Law, Languages and Commerce to become the Polytechnic of Central London (PCL).  PCL was able to offer degrees, validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), as well as offering a range of postgraduate courses for the first time. A substantial programme of mid-career short courses harked back to its routes in evening education. However, the polytechnics were unable to access the same levels of research funding as their University counterparts. This so-called ‘binary line’ in UK Higher Education was abolished in 1991 following a call for polytechnics to be allowed to adopt a university name and award their own degrees. On 1 December 1992 a service was held at Westminster Abbey to mark the inauguration of the University of Westminster.

Period: 1980s

Alireza Sagharchi studied Architecture at PCL in the early 1980s.  In this excerpt he discusses the structure of the course and the School of Architecture.

From 1891 there was a School of Architecture providing evening classes (and day classes from 1894) in a variety of subjects allied to the Architecture and Building trades, as well as preparation for professional examinations including those of the Surveyor’s Institution, Royal Engineers and Royal Institute of British Architects.

After World War One the School of Architecture taught evening classes in architecture and architectural draughtsmanship, building, surveying, geometry, building law, mathematics and mechanics, as well as technical craft subjects (carpentry, joinery and cabinet making).  The Day School provided a three year Diploma course which on completion meant exemption from the RIBA intermediate examination.  The Architects (Registration) Act 1931 recognised the School’s Diploma Final Examination in Architecture as qualification for registration.

In 1970 modern purpose-designed premises at Marylebone Road were built for the College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technologies which comprised the Department of Architecture, Surveying and Town Planning and the Department of Civil Engineering.  These facilities included a concrete testing laboratory, now the gallery space P3.

Period: 1960s

Andrew Baxter studied Civil Engineering at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the early 1960s.  In this excerpt he discusses skipping lectures to go and watch the BBC radio programme Round the Horn being recorded.

The Regent Street Polytechnic had a School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering from its early days.  Initially housed at Regent Street the School of Civil Engineering moved to the new premises at Marylebone Road in 1970.

Period: 1970s

Barbara Lee studied evening classes in Sociology at the Polytechnic of Central London in the late 1970s. In this excerpt she discusses some of the topics covered on the course.

 

Period: 1960s

Christine Quick studied Photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the 1960s.  In this excerpt she discusses the content of the photography course and location of classes.

309 Regent Street has a long history with Photography.  In 1848 Europe’s first photographic studio opened on its roof and members of the public could come and have their portraits taken.  Charles Dickens was among the customers. In 1852 photography classes began and Quintin Hogg continued these classes when he acquired the building in 1882.  In 1960 the Poly established its first full time 3 year diploma in photography and in 1966 the World’s first BSc in the subject.   The head of the School of Photography whilst Christine Quick was studying was Margaret Harker, Britain’s first female professor of photography.

Period: 1980s

Donald Lush studied Film and Photographic Arts at PCL in the early 1980s.

Photography has always been a key subject at the University. The Royal Polytechnic Institute at 309 Regent Street was the home of the first photographic studio in Europe and classes in photography began in 1852.  Hogg continued these classes when he acquired the building under the auspices of Howard Farmer.  In 1943 Margaret Harker joined the Poly staff becoming Britain’s first female professor in photography.  She later became head of the school. In 1960 the Poly established its first full time 3 year diploma in photography and in 1966 the World’s first BSc in the subject.  Originally based at Regent Street and then Little Titchfield Street, photography is now at our Harrow campus.

In this excerpts he discusses the structure of the course and teaching methods and the photographic assignments set by Derek Drage.

Period: 1970s; 1980s; 1990s; 2000s

John Turner joined the staff of PCL in 1970 as a lecturer in Maths. He went on to lecture in Computer Programming and retired in 2010.

The Poly bought its first computer, the IBM 1620, in 1965. It occupied an entire room and was run by a lady called Mrs Routledge. Subsequently the first computing staff were appointed, initially teaching programming to engineering and science students. As the popularity of computing increased the Polytechnic set up dedicated computing courses including one of the first computing HND courses.

In this excerpts he discusses the Computer Programming exam using the Poly’s computer and the popularity of the computing classes over the years and the influence of the department in its field.

Period: 1980s

John Ronson studied Media Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London in the late 1980s.  He was also elected Social Secretary of the Students’ Union in 1987.  He has gone on to be a well known journalist and author.

In this excerpt he discusses his reasons for joining PCL and the structure of the course and the modules studied.

Period: 1930s; 1940s

Mark Fenton studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

From 1891 there was a School of Architecture providing evening classes (and day classes from 1894) in a variety of subjects allied to the Architecture and Building trades, as well as preparation for professional examinations including those of the Surveyor’s Institution, Royal Engineers and Royal Institute of British Architects.

After World War One the School of Architecture taught evening classes in architecture and architectural draughtsmanship, building, surveying, geometry, building law, mathematics and mechanics, as well as technical craft subjects (carpentry, joinery and cabinet making).  The Day School provided a three year Diploma course which on completion meant exemption from the RIBA intermediate examination. The Architects (Registration) Act 1931 recognised the School’s Diploma Final Examination in Architecture as qualification for registration.

In 1970 modern purpose-designed premises at Marylebone Road were built for the College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technologies which comprised the Department of Architecture, Surveying and Town Planning and the Department of Civil Engineering.  These facilities included a concrete testing laboratory, now the gallery space P3.

In this excerpt he discusses the antics of his fellow students in the classroom, the structure of the course and the School of Architecture in general.

Period: 1980s

Michael Moore studied for a postgraduate degree in Transportation Planning and Management at the Polytechnic of Central London in the early 1980s. In this excerpt he discusses the course structure and his fellow students.

 

Period: 1970s; 1980s; 1990s; 2000s

Nick Bailey joined the staff of PCL as a research assistant in 1977 and went on to become a lecturer in Town Planning and Urban Regeneration. Town Planning has been taught at the University since 1930 when it was introduced as a 3 year course. In this excerpt he discusses the changes to the syllabus and teaching methods over time.

Period: 1970s

Nigel Winser studied Life Sciences at PCL in the early 1970s.  He was also involved in establishing an Exploration Society which took students on scientific trips around the world.  In this excerpt he discusses Life Sciences field trips to the Lake District and the content of the Life Sciences course.

Based at 115 New Cavendish Street, Life Sciences was first introduced at PCL in 1970.  Modules included Botany, Biochemistry, Physiology, Psychology, Ecology, Biology and Zoology.

Period: 1960s; 1970s

Roger Kelly studied Architecture at PCL in the early 1970s.  In this excerpt he discusses a project building an inflatable dome for the Polytechnic Arts Festival.

From 1891 there was a School of Architecture providing evening classes (and day classes from 1894) in a variety of subjects allied to the Architecture and Building trades, as well as preparation for professional examinations including those of the Surveyor’s Institution, Royal Engineers and Royal Institute of British Architects.

After World War One the School of Architecture taught evening classes in architecture and architectural draughtsmanship, building, surveying, geometry, building law, mathematics and mechanics, as well as technical craft subjects (carpentry, joinery and cabinet making).  The Day School provided a three year Diploma course which on completion meant exemption from the RIBA intermediate examination. The Architects (Registration) Act 1931 recognised the School’s Diploma Final Examination in Architecture as qualification for registration.

In 1970 modern purpose-designed premises at Marylebone Road were built for the College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technologies which comprised the Department of Architecture, Surveying and Town Planning and the Department of Civil Engineering.  These facilities included a concrete testing laboratory, now the gallery space P3.

Period: 1970s

Stephen Armstrong studied Engineering at the Polytechnic of Central London during the late 1970s.  In this excerpt he discusses the nationalities and numbers of students on the Engineering course and the topics that were studied.

The Regent Street Polytechnic had a School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering from the its early days.  Initially housed at Regent Street, Civil Engineering moved to the new premises at Marylebone Road in 1970 whilst Mechanical and Electrical Engineering moved to New Cavendish Street.

Period: 1960s

Vernon Dewhurst studied Photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the 1960s. In this excerpt he discusses the teaching staff on the photography course.

309 Regent Street has a long history with Photography.  In 1848 Europe’s first photographic studio opened at the Royal Polytechnic Institution on its roof and members of the public could come and have their portraits taken.  Charles Dickens was among the customers.  In 1852 photography classes began.  Quintin Hogg continued these classes when he acquired the building.  In 1960 the Poly established its first full time 3 year diploma in photography and in 1966 the World’s first BSc in the subject.  The head of the School of Photography whilst Vernon Dewhurst was studying was Margaret Harker, Britain’s first female professor of photography.


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