Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Royal Polytechnic Institution

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of Regent Street, London

1838 Founded by Sir George Caley, George Henry Bachhoffner and others as a place of popular instruction in science. It opened with Henry Langdon Childe's "grand phantasmagoria" and thereafter became the most important venue for lantern shows/

1840 Advertised courses for the practical education of engine drivers[1]

1841 Richard Beard opened Europe's first public photographic studio at the Royal Polytechnic Institute.

1859 the company was reconstituted as a limited company. After this the influence and technical value of the institution rapidly waned.[2]

1880 The building and the exhibition had deteriorated badly so new management took over with promises of improvement including construction of a new theatre.

1881 William Mattieu Williams was manager of the Institution during its last 6 months of existence. By this time audiences had declined. The institution was in financial trouble and was put up for sale[3].

1882 Quintin Hogg purchased the lease and spent large sums on alterations. He retained the name Polytechnic but made it an institution under public management which provided artisan and lower-middle-class young men and women with instruction, recreation, and social opportunities as the Regent Street Polytechnic.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Dec 23, 1840
  2. The Engineer 1880/01/23
  3. The Times Nov 29, 1881
  • Various biographies on ODNB