University Of Bristol Website

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University Of Bristol Website

University Of Bristol Website

University College, Bristol existed from 1876 to 1909 and was the precursor to the University of Bristol.

Its history can be traced back to the efforts of John Percival, headmaster of Clifton College, to press for the establishment of such an institution. In 1872, Percival wrote to the Oxford colleges observing that the provinces lacked a university culture. The following year he produced a pamphlet called ‘The Connection of the Universities and the Great Towns’, which was well received by Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Jowett was to become a significant figure, both philosophically and financially, in the establishment of University College, Bristol.

In June 1874, a meeting took place at Bristol’s Victoria Rooms ‘to promote a School of Science and Literature for the West of England’. Percival and Jowett spoke at the meeting, and won the support of Albert Fry and Lewis Fry, members of an influential and affluent local family.

University College, Bristol finally opened its doors at 9 am on Tuesday 10 October 1876 in rented premises at 32 Park Row. Initially there were two professors and five lecturers offering courses in 15 subjects. The College was open to men and women on the same basis (except in medicine). During the first session, 99 day students registered (30 men and 69 women) and 238 evening ones (143 men and 95 women).

Alfred Marshall, a groundbreaking economist, served as Principal of the College until 1881. He taught evening classes while his wife, Mary Paley, the first woman lecturer, taught during the day. Her fee was deducted from her husband’s salary. The second Principal was William Ramsay, discoverer of the so-called noble gases. He left in 1887 (and received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1904), but remained influential in the College’s efforts to become a university with its own Royal Charter. His successor was Conwy Lloyd Morgan, a geologist and zoologist who also became a pioneering experimental psychologist. He, too, was closely involved in the campaign for full university status, and would eventually become the University of Bristol’s first Vice-Chancellor.