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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2107
Held at: City University
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Date(s): 1892-2000
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: c200 linear feet
Name of creator(s): Northampton Institute
Northampton Polytechnic Institute
Northampton Polytechnic
Northampton College of Advanced Technology
City University


Administrative/Biographical history:

City University was founded as the Northampton Institute in 1894 with the aim of "the promotion of the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes". In 1906 the name was changed to Northampton Polytechnic Institute, from 1935 it was Northampton Polytechnic which in 1957 became Northampton College of Advanced Technology (CAT). Following the Robbins Committee Report of 1963 the College acquired University status and its charter was granted in 1966 when it became The City University (TCU), it is now known as City University London.

The first proposal for the Institute was made in 1891 in a Charity Commissioners' scheme for a City Polytechnic, linking Birkbeck College, the City of London College and a proposed Northampton Institute in Finsbury, to facilitate funding for these institutions by the City Parochial Foundation. The City Polytechnic was dissolved in 1906 without any real links having been established between the three institutions but it had enabled funding for the building and establishment of the Northampton Institute on land given by the Marquess of Northampton. Other funding came from the Skinners' Company, the Saddlers' Company and the Technical Education Board of the London County Council.

Building began in 1894 to a design by Edward Mountford (1855-1908) and teaching at the Institute commenced in 1896 under Robert Mullineux Walmsley (1854-1924), its first Principal, with the Institute being fully operational by September 1897. The organisation of the Institute was greatly influenced by the nearby Finsbury Technical College, and, in common with the Polytechnic ethos, the social aspects of the Institute, which survived until World War I, were as important as the educational classes which concentrated on providing technical instruction, initially in the evenings only, relevant to the trades and crafts of its immediate neighbourhood of Clerkenwell. Its six departments were mechanical engineering and metal trades; artistic crafts; applied physics and electrical engineering; horology; electro-chemistry; and domestic economy and women's trades. From 1900 the Institute had a number of University of London recognised teachers and students were able to register for internal degree courses of the University. In 1903 the sandwich course system was introduced requiring students to spend one quarter of their course working under supervision in an appropriate industry. The Institute pioneered systematic courses of instruction rather than the study of isolated subjects.

With recognition as a CAT in 1957 Dip.Tech courses were introduced and residential accommodation for students was provided. The relationship with the London County Council and its funding ended in 1962 with the award of direct grant status through the Department of Education and Science, followed by transfer to the University Grants Committee in 1965 and university status the following year. City University has remained on its original site and a conscious decision to limit student numbers and not move out of London to a country site was taken in 1966.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of City University and predecessors, 1892-2000, covering all aspects of the establishment and development of the University, and including foundation documents and University charter, 1966; Governing Body records including minutes, 1892, annual reports, 1897-2000, and various management schemes, 1912-1960s; general administrative records including prospectuses, 1930s-1960s, records of prizes, scholarships, and ceremonial occasions, and in-house publications; financial records, 1893-1999; estates and buildings records and plans, 1892-2000; academic administrative records including Departmental syllabuses, 1927-1996, research and publications reports, 1952-1992, publications, 1970-1997, and promotional literature, 1960s-1990s; lists of students, 1899-1960s; staff records, 1895-1926; Library records, 1940s-1990s; Student Union records and records of other student societies, 1906-1999, including student magazines, 1912-1999; records of staff associations, 1950s-1990s; presscuttings, 1909-1999; photographs, 1892-1999; and audio tapes of special lectures, 1960s-1980s.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

On written application to the University Librarian.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the University Librarian.

Finding aids:

City University Archives Strongroom Collection: A List compiled by S.J. Teague; City University Special Collections Room card indexing system; Survey lists of City University archives by Janet Foster, 2000 (available in hard copy at City University)..

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Generated and retained in situ at City University.

Allied Materials

Related material:

City University individual student records remain with the Academic Registrar and later staff files remain with Human Resources.

Public Record Office holds Northampton Polytechnic Institute - Scheme for training women for Optical Work, 1916 (Ref: BT 66/2); City Polytechnic (T.14912): Scheme made under City of London Parochial Charities Act, 1883 and Charitable Trusts Acts, 1853-1887, for administration of City Polytechnic including Northampton Institute, Birkbeck Institute and City of London College, 1890-1891 (Ref: ED 37/126); Finsbury: Northampton Polytechnic Institute, 1923-1939 (Refs: ED 90/135-6,416-7); Full inspections, 1927, 1939 (Refs: ED114/555-6); Offers of Personal Services, Facilities and Supplies: Offer of workshop facilities at Northampton Polytechnic Institute, Clerkenwell, London, 1915 (Ref: MUN 4/5). London Metropolitan Archives holds annual reports, accounts, course curricula, and building papers, 1904-1949 (Refs: EO/HFE/5/88-106); HM and LCC Inspectors' reports, 1927, 1930, 1939 (Refs: EO/HFE/5/190-92); Advisory sub-committee minutes, 1911 (Ref: EO/HFE/7/39). Birkbeck College holds City Polytechnic Governing Body minutes, 1894-1906. Guildhall Library holds Finsbury Technical College, London, correspondence, financial records, students' records, 1879-1927 (Refs: MSS 21911-24, 21960-87) (See National Register of Archives 28518 City and Guilds).

Publication note:

S.J. Teague The City University A History (London, 1980); D.W. Thoms The history of technical education in London, 1904-1940 Guides to sources in the history of education, no.4 (History of Education Society, 1976) pp26-27; H. Silver & S.J. Teague: The History of British Universities 1800-1969 - A bibliography, Research into higher education monographs. no. 13 (Society for Research into Higher Education, 1970) p79.

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:
August 2000; updated January 2001

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