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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0370 QMC
Held at: Queen Mary, University of London
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Date(s): 1887-1989
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: approximately 120 linear metres
Name of creator(s): People's Palace
East London College
Queen Mary College


Administrative/Biographical history:

Queen Mary College traced its foundation from the opening of the People's Palace in Mile End in1887. The purpose of the Palace was to provide an educational and cultural centre for the local community and it included technical schools from the beginning. The whole complex was completed by 1892 but already the tensions between the two purposes of the Palace: pleasure and tuition, were evident. The entertainment side of the operation was suffering from financial difficulties which threatened the continued success of the educational side. Eventually a Scheme was approved whereby the Drapers' Company agreed to support the Palace with 7000 per annum for ten years and took seven places on the Governing Body.

In 1896 the Palace's technical schools became the East London Technical College. The College was divided into three Departments: a boys' Day School (closed in 1906), Day Classes and Evening Classes preparing students for university and the civil service. There was an emphasis on engineering and chemistry but trade and commercial classes were also taught. Bow and Bromley Institute was amalgamated with the College in 1898 and continued as a branch until its closure in 1911. By 1900 five Professors at the College were recognised as University of London teachers.

In 1905 an evening Arts course was started and Technical was removed from the college's name reflecting the changed emphasis of its mission to promote higher education in East London. An application for School status was made to the University of London and in 1907 this was granted on a temporary basis, followed by permanent recognition in 1915. Working arrangements for the Palace and the College were also under review and in 1911 the Visiting Committee of the Palace Governors was split into two to form a College Committee and a Palace Committee albeit still under the umbrella of the Palace Governors. In 1913 a College Council and an Academic Board were established which finally separated the College from the Palace.

The Students' Union Society started in 1908 and a College magazine was authorised in 1910 subject to the Principal's censorship. Following a bequest in 1909 an Aeronautical Society and the first university aeronautical laboratory were established. In 1917 the College admitted London Hospital Medical College students for the first time due to war-time conditions. Hostel accommodation for women was first provided in 1918 at Snaresbrook and, later, at Whipps Cross. The mid-1920s saw the development of a School of Drama and a Drama Society.

A fire in 1931 which completely destroyed the Palace's Queen's Hall paved the way for the final physical separation of Palace and College whilst also allowing space for the expansion of the College onto the original site of the Palace. Again the Drapers' Company provided the means and the finance for the change. The College then set about gaining a Royal Charter and as part of the process decided that a change of name would be beneficial. In December 1934 the Charter of Incorporation of Queen Mary's College was handed to the Master of the Drapers' Company. During the 1930s, a reconstruction scheme resulted in a new lecture theatre, a rebuilding of the engineering departments, provision of a high-voltage laboratory, a new chemistry laboratory, extension of the physics department, and dining hall.

From 1939 to 1945 the College was evacuated to Cambridge with the male students housed at King's and the female at Girton. QMC buildings in Mile End became a barracks for troops guarding the London Docks until 1941 when Stepney Borough Council became tenants. During this period the College Governors met at Drapers' Hall whilst the Academic Board met regularly at King's. The two decades after the war saw a substantial expansion of the College through the acquisition of adjacent bombed sites and student numbers increased from 853 in 1947 to 2162 in 1967. Between 1956 and 1962 a new engineering complex was constructed and a new physics block was completed in the same year. This was the first stage of a strategy to house science departments outside the main building which could then devoted to arts and administration. In 1961 the establishment of a mathematical laboratory laid the basis for the development of a Computer Centre, opened in 1968, and a Department of Computer Science and Statistics which enabled the College to be the first within the University to provide a degree course concentrated on computer science. The college has continued to be at the forefront of the application of computer technology with the establishment of computer-assisted teaching in 1973 and a computer aided design and manufacture laboratory in 1984.

Following the Robbins Report in 1963 the College proposed new buildings for mathematics and biology with the establishment of new Faculties of Laws and Economics. The latter were established in 1965 and 1966 respectively. The provision of a nuclear reactor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering during the same years was another first for the College among UK universities. The reactor was deactivated in 1982 as part of the rationalisation of College activities.

Courses for London Hospital Medical College students were discontinued in 1961. However, the Todd Report on Medical Education in 1968 recommended the association of St Bartholomew's and the London Medical Colleges with QMC and the "BLQ" scheme dominated the College's planning for the following seventeen years. After 1967 the College began to expand eastwards towards the Regent's Canal to provide space for pre-clinical teaching as well as facilities and amenities for a larger College. The financial stringencies of the late 1970s and 1980s, brought a reduction in estate commitments elsewhere and some single honours courses were relinquished with others transferred. However, QMC was designated as one of the five sites within the University for concentration of laboratory sciences and some fifty-three academic and twenty technical staff with 350 science-based students were transferred from other Schools of the University during 1983 and 1984. Also the academic structure of the College was adapted with the establishment of Schools which combined the resources of departments where interests and activities overlapped. Emphasis was given to developing Centres to facilitate inter-disciplinary research. The 1980s ended with the amalgamation of Westfield College with QMC in 1989. In the same year the BLQ scheme was finally realised and courses were provided for pre-clinical students from the Medical Colleges of St. Bartholomew's and The London Hospitals.


Scope and content/abstract:

Archives of Queen Mary College, 1887-1989, containing records of the People's Palace, 1887-1939, East London Technical College, 1896-1909, East London College, 1909-1934, and Queen Mary College, 1934-1989. Comprising of sub-collections: (QMC/PP) Records of the People's Palace c1885-1987; (QMC/HR) Personnel Records of Queen Mary College c1911-1990; (QMC/PS) Principal's records of Queen Mary College 1910-1990; (QMC/Realia) Archives Realia consisting largely of photographs, memorabilia and ephemera, dating from c1900-1989. (QMC) The main series includes the following.

Governance and management papers: East London College Committee indexes to meetings 1907-1913; Governing Body minutes books and indexes 1913-1989; Registrars letter books regarding academic staff, 1911-1921; Academic Board minutes, 1913-1985, with Standing Committee papers, 1987-1989; Faculty Board minute books, Committee of Deans minute books c1935-1986; Faculty of Arts Board minutes and papers, 1933-1987; Faculty of Science Board minutes and papers, 1933-1977; Faculty of Science minutes and papers, 1948-1980; Committee for Medical Studies minutes, 1934-1961; Faculty of Engineering minutes and papers, 1935-70; Joint Committee on Staffing and Staff Reductions Sub-board, 1980s; Queen Mary College Committees and Staff lists 1980-1989; Strategy Planning documents 1985-1989; Finance and Planning papers 1970-1989; University Grants Committee 1985; Engineering administation papers 1920-1940; Library Committtee minutes and accession lists 1934-1990; Jarratt Report response 1986; AUT papers 1990-1994; Appeal for funds 1935-1937.

Reporting and information dissemination: Calendars c1897-1989; Prospectuses 1930-1989; Annual reports 1949-1989; Accounts annual reports 1977-1989; Directory of courses 1980-1989; Magazines, East London College and Queen Mary College Magazine, Mole, Leapardess, Cub, 1910-1989; Students' Union Society minutes, 1932-1935; Hobbies and Interests Club 1988-1989; Alumni magazines, College News Bulletins and Newsletters, c1964-1989; Condensate (Chemistry Department Magazine) 1972-1989; Press cuttings 1917-1989.

Subject files containing ephemera and photographs regarding events and celebrations; societies and associations; people; faculties; buildings, c1900-1989.

Student records including student cards arranged alphabetically by surname, c1906-1989.

Nuclear reactor log books, papers and correspondence c1963-1984.

Photographs, negatives slides, and promotional materials: 2 photograph albums 1938-1962; Publicity photographs 1970-1990; Negatives for magazines and printed materials c1980-1990; Cinefilm of events and other films produced concerning the College c1930-1960; Promotional videos 1960-1980s; Negatives with index covering all subject areas, events and key staff members, c1970-1989.

Memorabilia: Graduation gowns c1930-1940s; 2 College flags c1940-1950; 3 blazers c1913-1920s; Medals, gifts, College shields, c1880-1989.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As indicated in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist. Applications for copies for research or publication should be made to the Archivist: Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 7873, email:

Finding aids:

Box lists available at the Library.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Generated and retained in situ by Queen Mary College

Immediate source of acquisition:

Generated and retained in situ by Queen Mary College

Allied Materials

Related material:

People's Palace Archives, 1887-1939; Queen Mary and Westfield Archives, 1989-2000.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

G.P. Moss & M.V. Saville (eds) From Palace to College: An Illustrated Account of Queen Mary College (1987). Women at Queen Mary Online: A Virtual Exhibition

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Janet Foster as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
March 2001

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