Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,969 pages of information and 233,612 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Manchester Mechanics Institute

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One of the early examples of a Mechanics Institute

1824 April 7th. The Mechanics' Institution was formed by industrialists who thought that artisans should learn basic sciences at evening classes - they included Bernard Heywood, a Banker, who was Chairman as well as William Fairbairn, Richard Roberts, Robert Hyde Greg, a cotton mill owner, Peter Ewart, millwright and engineer, David Bellhouse, a builder, William Henry, chemist, and John Dalton, scientist.

Its first building was near St Peter’s Square.

At times the Institute struggled because students had little basic education; primary schooling was not made compulsory in England until 1870. Artisans worked long hours and many saw little advantage in science studies. The institution’s more general classes often proved more useful to young office workers and shopkeepers seeking to improve their literacy and numeracy.

1853 A new building was opened on Princess Street to cope with growth

1868 The TUC was founded in the building

In the later decades of the 19th century, pressure for technical education increased

A self-taught ex-shoemaker, John Henry Reynolds, transmuted national and local concerns into a successful programme of classes. He focused on subjects that served the industrial needs of the Manchester region

1883 he converted the Mechanics' Institute into the Manchester Technical School.

1892 Manchester Corporation took on the funding of the Technical School, partly from national taxes, and it came to be known as the Manchester Municipal Technical School.

1902 The school was modelled on the German technical high schools. A huge new building, now called the Sackville Street Building, was opened in 1902.

The increasingly high standards of education and the beginnings of research at the technical college raised questions about its relationship with the newly independent Victoria University of Manchester, which had its own department of engineering.

1905 It was agreed that the professors at the College of Technology would constitute the Faculty of Technology of the Victoria University and the students could take Victoria University degrees.

Post WWI the Technical School was renamed the Manchester Municipal College of Technology.

Post WWII the majority of courses were for professional and technical, rather than academic, qualifications, and most of the teaching was through evening classes for students who were at work during the day.

1956 the College of Technology gained independent status as a university college after the non-degree work was moved to some of the municipal colleges, (which later became Manchester Polytechnic and then Manchester Metropolitan University).

1966 the College of Technology was renamed the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) but remained largely independent of the Victoria University.

1994 UMIST became a completely autonomous university with its own degree-awarding powers.

2004 UMIST and Victoria University merged as the The University of Manchester.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • UMIST history [1]