University Of Bristol History

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University Of Bristol History

University Of Bristol History can be said to have begun in 1909 when the university gained a royal charter which allowed it to award degrees. Like most English universities, Bristol evolved from earlier institutions, most notably University College, Bristol (founded 1876), Bristol Medical School (1833) and the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College (founded as a school 1595 and which became the university engineering faculty.

As early as 1906 Conwy Lloyd Morgan had stated his intention to give up the principalship of University College, Bristol. Sir Isambard Owen, nephew of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, became the first vice-chancellor of the university and worked upon the detail of the university’s charter. Owen is also credited with the design of the university gowns, with the colour said to have been based upon the colour of the rocks of the Avon Gorge after rain. One area of early controversy was the re-advertising of some chair positions and the decision not to give one, Cowl, a reappointment. This caused the resignation of the Chair of Physics, Arthur P. Chattock.

Henry Overton Wills became the first chancellor of the university. On Wills’ death, Haladane was invited to succeed him. The installation of Haladane was used to honour all those who had been involved in the creation of the university and 70 honorary degrees were awarded by the university. This act, coming from a university not yet three years old caused some controversy and led to public criticism of the university in The Observer.

After the death of their father, Henry Wills and George Wills donated money for the building of a university building in memory of their father. He met with George Oatley (later Sir George Oatley) to plan the building of what was to become the Wills Memorial Building which the brothers requested would be built to last for 400 years.When the Wills family acquired Royal Fort gardens as a site they were given to the university and were to be the site of a castle like building which became the physics department.