Higher Education Postcard: Loughborough University

This week’s card from Hugh Jones’ postbag takes us to the East Midlands and the epicentre of student sport.

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

Greetings from Loughborough! The (former) home of Ladybird Books, and also the wonderful Loughborough University.

In the early years of the twentieth century, Loughborough’s civic amenities were given a boost. This from the Leicester Daily Post of Thursday 30 September 1909:

LOUGHBOROUCH’S NEW TECHNICAL INSTITUTE. OPENING SY SIR WILLIAM ABNEY. The new Technical Institute provided for Loughborough, by arrangement between the Town Council and the County Council Education Committee, was formally opened on Wednesday by Sir Wm. de Wiveleslie Abney, K.C.B., D.Sc., D.C.L., F.R.S., Adviser to the Science Department of the Board of Education. The scheme under which this addition has made to the educational facilities of the borough was initiated about four years ago, after Mr. Andrew Carnegie generously gave the cost of a new Public Free Library. The old library building at the corner of Ashby-Road and Green-Close Lane, erected in 1885 by public subscription, then became vacant, and proposals were mooted to adapt it for purposes of technical education. An agreement was come to between the Town Council and the County Education Authority, whereby the building, with a portion of the adjoining land then used for Corporation stores was transferred as a site for the proposed new Technical Institute…

(Sir William Abney was a chemist, a pioneer of photography and an astronomer, and an East Midlands lad.)

After WW!, the Technical Institute was broken up into four separate colleges, focusing on teacher training, art and design, post-16 education, and technology and science. This latter – the Loughborough College of Technology – developed into today’s university.

Under the guidance of its second principal, Herbert Schofield, the College of Technology moved to a site with more room to grow and develop – at the time out-of-town, now very much part of Loughborough. Schofield was principal from 1915 to 1950 and clearly had a profound impact upon the institution, shaping its distinctive technological focus.

This focus enabled designation in 1958 as a College of Advanced Technology. This designation gave additional funding and, in the early 1960s, removal from local authority control, instead being overseen by national government. (In those days this was a better thing than it might seem today).

And in 1966 university status was achieved, as the Loughborough University of Technology.

Loughborough College of Education was reincorporated in 1977 – the “of Technology” part of the university’s name was dropped in 1996 and the College of Art and Design was reincorporated in 1998.

Loughborough is renowned for many things, including sport. A rather splendid claim is that had Loughborough been a country, it would have finished 11th in the medal table at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Sadly, this is not a claim which counts for more HE related league tables; and the gold medals cannot be transferred to TEF status without going through the normal rigmarole.

Also notable is the university’s main entrance, shown in the card above. Known as the Bastard Gates, these were donated in 1932 by William Bastard, then chairman of the governors. You’ll have most fun if you say this in your best Sean Bean accent.

One response to “Higher Education Postcard: Loughborough University

  1. Interesting as always Hugh.

    Thank you for making me laugh on an oppressively hot day in the office.

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