Falmouth University History

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Falmouth University History

Falmouth University was founded as Falmouth School of Art in 1902, in response to the diminution of scientific activities in Cornwall that was brought about by the decline of the Cornish mining industry.

To appreciate fully the significant contribution that Falmouth University has made to Higher Education (HE) both within the County of Cornwall, and in the wider world, it is necessary to consider its achievements within the context of its history, and refer back to the 1870s when Miss Anna Maria Fox (1815-1897), the daughter of an esteemed Quaker family, founded The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society (RCPS) in Falmouth.

The establishment of this august institution was in response to the diminution of scientific activities in the region that was brought about by the decline of the Cornish mining industry, and it was subsequently to become “the pioneer of education in art and science in the County1”.

It was reported in Lake’s Falmouth Packet, Cornwall Advertiser and Visitors’ List on Saturday 30 August 1902 that:

“The formal opening this week of the new Art School recalls to mind that in Falmouth the art movement, like that of the technical, has only had an enduring career of success in latter years. Classes commenced as far back as 1870 under the aegis of the Polytechnic Society made considerable progress, so much so, in fact, that they bid fair to take the premier position in the County.

Ten years later, however, prospects had altered for the worse, and by 1886, owing to the withdrawal and loss of some of the valuable teaching staff, the students and income had so declined that only classes in art and building construction were carried on, and even these were subsequently abandoned. It was the formation of a Technical Instruction Committee for the district which in 1891 gave a fresh impetus to science and art instruction in Falmouth, and at the request, and with the assistance of this committee the Polytechnic classes were restarted.