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Regent Street Polytechnic

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1753 RSP
Held at: University of Westminster
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Full title: Regent Street Polytechnic
Date(s): 1855-1970
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: c800 boxes
Name of creator(s): Polytechnic Institute | Regent Street
Regent Street Polytechnic
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Young Men's Christian Institute became Regent Street Polytechnic when the Polytechnic Scheme of Administration was approved by an Order in Council on 23 June 1891. The Scheme, which was drawn up under the auspices of the Charity Commissioners, established a new governing body and ensured annual funding from the City Parochial Foundation.

The Scheme changed the name and status of a well-established and rapidly expanding institution. The Young Men's Christian Institute (originally the Youths' Christian Institute), founded and funded by Quintin Hogg (1845-1903) in Covent Garden, had moved to no 309 Regent Street in 1882, and gradually assumed the title of Polytechnic, which came from the name of the building, well known to the public as the former home of the Royal Polytechnic Institution. Hogg's vision was to provide for the athletic, intellectual, social and religious needs of young men, and to this end he provided a range of sporting and social facilities as well as an increasing range of educational and vocational classes. His institution attracted a great deal of attention from the technical education lobby, and also from Henry Cunynhame, one of the Charity Commissioners, whose reports prompted the Commission's decision to devote a substantial proportion of the revenue created by the City of London Parochial Charities Act (1883) to endowing Regent Street and establishing a network of polytechnics on the Regent Street model throughout the metropolis. The City Parochial Foundation (CPF) was established in 1891 to administer the funds. The 1891 Scheme, with some amendments, shaped the government of Regent Street Polytechnic until 1970. From 1893 the Polytechnic also received grants from the Technical Education Board (TEB) of the London County Council. The London Polytechnic Council (LPC) was established to inspect and co-ordinate the work of the polytechnics. Both the TEB and the LPC were abolished following the London Education Act in 1904, when the LCC took over responsibility for education in the metropolis. By then it had overtaken the CPF in provision of financial support for the polytechnics, and continued to fund and to manage them until 1965, when it was succeeded by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). The maintenance grant for Regent Street was negotiated on an annual basis. CPF funding, which remained at the level established by the 1891 Scheme, was withdrawn from the polytechnics in 1962.

The establishment of a formal management structure and the increasing dependence upon outside funding, which brought external accountability and loss of independence, eventually led to the breakdown of Hogg's unified vision. The educational side, which dealt with students and the organisation of classes, became separate from the Institute side, which catered for members of the social and sporting clubs, with the eventual decline of the Institute. This was a slow process, however, with many individuals participating in the full range of activities, and the Polytechnic remained remarkably unchanged until after World War Two. When Hogg died in 1903, he was succeeded as President by Kynaston Studd, who remained in office until his death in 1944, and did much to continue the traditions of the founder. Two major appeals were launched to support expansion, the first for the rebuilding of no 309 Regent Street in 1910-1912, and the second to build the Polytechnic Extension building in Little Titchfield Street, which was formally opened in 1929. Both buildings continued to provide sporting and social facilities for members of the Institute as well as workshops and classrooms for students of the Education Department.

The Education Department provided a wide range of courses, with a rapid expansion of commercial subjects alongside the original trade and technical classes. Courses ranged from post-elementary school entry for craft and technical training at 13 to preparation for University of London external degrees. Most teaching was in the evening and part-time, though day classes increased throughout the period. Following World War Two there was a rapid growth in the demand for further education and training, which was reorganised following the White Paper on Technical Education (Cmnd 9703) in 1956. The variety of levels of work at Regent Street meant that it was designated a regional college rather than a college of advanced technology, after which the governors decided to reduce the proportion of lower level work. Following the establishment of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) in 1964, a number of degree courses were approved and became operational. In 1960 the London County Council announced a plan to turn Regent Street into a tri-partite federal college by adding a new College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technology (CAABT) and also a College of Engineering and Science (CES). The existing commercial subjects would remain centred on no 309 Regent Street. CAABT was allocated the Luxborough Lodge site in Marylebone Road and CES a site in New Cavendish Street. Both schemes suffered prolonged delays and the new buildings were not finished until 1970. Meanwhile the publication of the White Paper, 'A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges' (Cmd 3006), had announced the creation of some 30 polytechnics throughout the country to form what became called the public sector of the binary system of higher education. The 13 existing colleges managed by ILEA were to be reorganised into five. Holborn College of Law, Languages and Commerce was merged with Regent Street to form PCL (the Polytechnic of Central London). At a ceremony on 21 May 1971, the Lord Chancellor Lord Hailsham, grandson and namesake of Quintin Hogg, opened the new buildings and designated the new institution.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records, 1891-1970, of Regent Street Polytechnic, comprising: Governing Body minutes, 1891-1970, attendance books, 1954-1970, and related papers; Finance and General Purposes Committee minutes, 1891-1932, 1951-1960, and attendance books, 1949-1958.

Deeds, leases, agreements, schedules, licences and correspondence, 1891-1970, concerning Polytechnic affairs and premises, including Langham Place, Riding House Street, Great Portland Street, and other sites, and use of the Polytechnic Theatre (Marlborough Hall), Regent Street, as a cinema; papers, 1889-1970, relating to the Charity Commissioners' Scheme for the Polytechnic.

Financial records, some relating to Trusts and prizes, 1891-1970, including balance sheets, accounts and financial statements, 1891-1895, 1899-1904, balance sheets and accounts, 1939-41, ledgers, 1892, 1902-1970, journals, 1939-1956, various cash books, 1905-1970, invoices, 1905-1911, 1959-1965, correspondence and papers concerning overdrafts, 1927-1954, record books, perhaps recording payments to government-sponsored students, 1919-1923, applications for and papers relating to grants from the City Parochial Foundation and London County Council, 1891-1960, and other papers relating to funding and regulatory bodies, including the Board of Education, papers relating to the Quintin Hogg estate and investments, 1903-1970, and the Kynaston Studd memorial fund, 1940s, and Polytechnic Benevolent Fund minute book, 1938-1965.

Administrative papers and correspondence of the Polytechnic and its officers, 1902-1964, relating to premises, finance, staff and salaries, library, enrolments, fees and examinations; correspondence and papers on fundraising and rebuilding, 1909-1916, including Building Committee minutes, 1908-1911, and plans, agreements and press cuttings; correspondence and papers on fundraising and extension, 1926-1929; correspondence, plans and other papers, 1911-1946, relating to premises including Cavendish Place and Langham Place; correspondence and papers relating to administration and facilities of the Quintin Hogg Recreation Ground, Chiswick, 1904-1960s, including the Trustees' minute book, 1932-1959; papers relating to proposed re-organisation, 1959-1969.

Records of the Education Department, including prospectuses, 1892-1970, and records relating to examinations, results, certificates, and medals awarded to students, 1891-1970; papers of the Teaching Staff Association, 1963-1970; records of the Polytechnic Institute, comprising membership records for men, 1891-1958, and women, 1904-1960, and subscription ledgers for men, 1891-1937, 1952-1963, and women, 1904-1937, 1952-1960; papers relating to World War One, 1914-1915, including three volumes on members on active service.

Papers, including ephemera, on Polytechnic jubilees, public and social occasions, and official visits, 1904-1964, including the royal visit, 1912, the opening of the stadium at Chiswick, 1938, coronations, 1937, 1953, and Hogg centenary celebrations, 1964.

Rules, 1913; printed annual reports, 1931-1938, 1952-1970, and typescripts, 1938-1941; staff handbooks [1954], 1964 and undated; student handbooks, 1961-1970; lecture notes and exam papers for the P.O. Workman's course, 1929-1933; class notebook for Electro-Technology, 1930s; lecturer's notebook detailing classroom allocation, staff teaching hours and student enrolment numbers, 1930-1945; The Polytechnic Magazine, 1891-1971, which includes detailed information on Polytechnic business and activities; miscellaneous other publications, including The Polytechnic: its genesis and present status (1892), The Polytechnic Portrait Gallery (1894), comprising portraits of staff and members, an honorary membership ticket, 1895, student magazines, 1936-1969, and miscellaneous articles, typescripts and cuttings on the Polytechnic, 1892-1968; volumes of press cuttings and scrapbooks of ephemera, 1893-1947, including Polytechnic activities, rebuilding, and J E K Studd.

Textbooks written by members of the Polytechnic teaching staff, including Theory and Analysis of Ornament - Applied to the Work of the Elementary and Technical Schools by Francois Louis Schauermann, 1892; The Polytechnic Coat System by Dr Thomas Darwin Humphreys, 3rd edition, n.d. [1900]; A Manual of Boot and Shoe Manufacture designed for the use of technical students by Herbert Hill and Henry Yeoman, 3rd edition, 1900; Building Construction and Drawing - first stage (or elementary course) by Charles F Mitchell, assisted by George Mitchell, 6th edition, 1902; Engineering Drawing : Principles and Practice of Draughtmanship by W. Weeks, n.d.; Polytechnic Technical Scales by C F Mitchell, n.d.; Hasluck's Recitations volume II: Hasluck's Recitations for Ladies compiled and adapted by Mr and Mrs S L Hasluck, 1903; Indiarubber and Gutta Percha - A Complete Practical Treatise by T Seeligmann, G Lamy Torrilhon and H Falconnet. Translated from the French by John Geddes McIntosh, 1903; Carpentry Workshop Practice by C F and G A Mitchell, 1904; Brickwork and Masonry: A Practical Textbook for students by Charles F Mitchell, 1904; The Polytechnic Cookery Book by M. M. Mitchell, 1907; Pumps - Their Principles and Construction - a series of lectures delivered at the Polytechnic Institute, Regent Street, London by J Wright Clarke, 2nd edition, 1919; Speech Training in the School by Marjorie Gullan, 1929; A Modern French Course for Beginners by A C Clark, 1930; General Electrical Engineering edited by Philip Kemp, 1943; A Modern German Course - Part 1 and Part 2 (2 volumes) by A C Clark and W O Williams, 1947; Fitness for All by Joseph Edmundson, 1953; The Pan Book of Swimming and Water Sports by Joseph Edmundson, 1965.

Photograph album, c1899, including photographs of activities and buildings; other negatives, prints, and plates, comprising buildings and premises (exterior and interior shots), including Langham Place, Regent Street, Little Titchfield Street, and the Quintin Hogg Recreation Ground, Chiswick; educational aspects, including Polytechnic Schools, libraries and laboratories, and window displays and exhibitions; events, including the royal visit, 1912, Lord Mayor's Show, 1922, 1928, annual fetes, 1927-1932, and Coronation concert and dance, 1953; personalities, including members of the Hogg family, Robert Mitchell, and J E K Studd; photography students' work, 1960-1970. Some earlier photographs were taken by the Polytechnic School of Photography.

Material relating to the Hogg family, 1855-[1970], includes articles about Quintin Hogg, 1888-1949; miscellaneous of Hogg's letters, mainly copies (originals dated 1882-1903), some relating to the Polytechnic; books by or associated with Hogg, 1855-1900; papers relating to his death, funeral and monument, 1903-1907, including printed material and a volume of press cuttings on his achievements; and information on other family members. Material relating to other Polytechnic notables comprises T H W Pelham's Recollections of the pre-historic days of the Polytechnic (1914); miscellaneous papers relating to Robert Mitchell, comprising a letter to E J Painter, 1929, a cutting on his death and orders of service for memorial services, 1933, and Ethel M Wood's Robert Mitchell (1934); miscellaneous correspondence and papers relating to John Edward Kynaston Studd, including programmes for social events, 1922-1935, his The origin, history, and present work of the Polytechnic [1932], papers relating to his death, 1944-1945, and A L D Hamilton's Kynaston Studd (1953); printed material on other members of the Studd family, 1914-1962.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The catalogued photographs include the following sections: buildings and premises (Ref: A); educational activities (Ref: B); events in Polytechnic history (Ref: E); personalities in Polytechnic life (Ref: F).

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signing the Regulations for Access form and unless subject to the Data Protection Act 1998 or exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be supplied, for research use only, unless copyright restrictions apply or the item is too fragile to be copied. Requests to publish original material should be addressed to the University Archivist.

Finding aids:

Typescript handlist for some items. More recently accessioned material is uncatalogued. For some of the photographs there is a typed handlist and card index to personal, corporate and place names and subjects, but others are uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Created by the institution.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Pre-1891 records are part of the Youths' Christian Institute and successors fonds (Ref: UWA YCI). Post-1970 records are part of the Polytechnic of Central London fonds (Ref: UWA PCL). The records of various Polytechnic clubs and of institutions merged with or absorbed by the Polytechnic are described separately. The University of Westminster Archives also holds records of Hogg's other foundation, the York Place Ragged School (Ref: UWA YPS), and of the predecessor in Regent Street, the Royal Polytechnic Institution (Ref: UWA RPI).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

'160 Years of Innovation: the Polytechnic Institution to the University of Westminster 1838-1998' (University of Westminster [1998]).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project, additional information added by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer. Sources: Ethel M Hogg, Quintin Hogg: a Biography (Archibald Constable & Co Ltd, London, 1904), chapters VI, IX; The Polytechnic Magazine, 20 May 1896, pp 247-50; The Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute Syllabus and Prospectus 1888-1889, pp 11-20, reprinting an article from The Times, 23 Apr 1888; '160 Years of Innovation: the Polytechnic Institution to the University of Westminster 1838-1998' (University of Westminster [1998]).

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:
Dec 2001 and May 2008.

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