Higher education postcard: Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic

This week’s card from Hugh Jones’ postbag tells a story of fragmentation and reconnection in higher education

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Here’s the Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic.

The Bath Road site, shown on the card, was the building for the Chiswick School of Art. Built in 1881, this became the Chiswick School of Art and Science in 1887 and in 1899 became part of Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic.

Pay attention now – this story has lots of shuffling about.

Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic established a junior technical school in 1910, which in 1928 transferred out of the polytechnic to become Acton Technical College. We’ll come back to this later.

Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic now became, simply, Chiswick Polytechnic. And the card, therefore, dates from between 1899 and 1928. It’s not been posted, so we can’t get a more precise date, but the type of card used and the typography suggest to me the 1920s.

The polytechnic was hit by a V1 flying bomb at 8.32 am on 23 August 1944 – this link from a nearby church’s webpages gives some details. The building was completely destroyed; one person was killed and there were 28 injured, six of whom were hospitalised.

The polytechnic was rebuilt; and in 1976 it merged with two teacher training colleges – the Borough Road College and the Maria Gray Training College – to become the West London Institute of Higher Education.

Now let’s go back to Acton for a while. In 1955 the National Council for Technological Awards introduced the Diploma in Technology as a qualification, and Acton Technical College developed programmes to teach the new qualification. These were in fact delivered by a new institution, hived off from Acton Technical College – the Brunel College of Technology. This was designated a College of Advanced Technology in 1962, and became Brunel University in 1966.

Acton College – the rump after the Brunel Technical College had moved out – became part of Ealing Tertiary College, which in turn became part of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (2002) renamed in 2017 as West London College.

Two further threads remain to be tied off.

Firstly, in 1995 the West London Institute of Higher Education merged with Brunel University and became Brunel University College. In 1997 it fully merged with Brunel, losing the separate identity, and by 2005 its activities had all moved to Uxbridge and the campus was sold. For luxury housing, obvs. And in this way both the Acton and the Chiswick parts of Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic had contributed to the development of Brunel University. Another time I’ll cover Brunel properly.

And then there’s the Bath Road buildings, rebuilt after the war. In 1986 these were taken over by the Arts Educational Schools, which continued to thrive in the buildings today. And their website has some fabulous pictures of their work, not just at Bath Road, but at other sites since 1919. Arts Ed will also get a proper write up another time.

One response to “Higher education postcard: Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic

  1. I’m trying to find my OND law results from Chiswick Polytechnic. Part of a Business course. Which education facility might have this information please?
    A long time ago! Around 1975. Next to Turners Green station which wasn’t mentioned in your piece.

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