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Higher education postcard: Westfield College

Today’s postcard from Hugh Jones' mailbag shows a former glory of the University of London
This article is more than 1 year old

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

Gone, but not yet forgotten, this card shows Westfield College.

Westfield College was founded in 1882 by Constance Louise Maynard and Ann Dudin Brown. Miss Dudin Brown was motivated by the need to educate missionaries, but was persuaded by Maynard and Mary Petrie to focus more broadly, and establish a college focusing on university education for women.

Initially established in private houses, it moved in 1891 to purpose built accommodation in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, shown in the card. Westfield was the first College explicitly aiming to educate women for University of London degrees. It became co-educational only in 1964.

Maynard was the College’s first Principal, from 1882 until 1913. She was the first woman to study the Moral Sciences Tripos at Cambridge, and graduated in 1875. For some time she taught in girls’ schools, including Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Whilst studying at the Slade School of Art at UCL she sought to design the ideal women’s College and in 1882 was offered the position of Principal of the new College.

Dudin Brown inherited wealth from her parents, and spent her life spending it on good causes. She was a member of the College Council from 1882 until her death in 1917, and funded the Kidderpore Avenue buildings. In her will she left £10,000 and the residue of her estate, for the establishment of scholarships at Westfield College.

Westfield College was Anglican in ethos and initially residential only. The first cohort of students numbered five only, but it grew through the years. In 1902 it weas admitted as a School of the University of London in the Arts; in 1915 the University recognised its botanical laboratories, enabling students to study for BSc degrees as Internal Students; and in 1928 the Principal of the College was confirmed as an ex officio member of the University’s Senate. A Royal Charter was granted in 1933.

Westfield was a pioneer of computer science, admitting its first students to the discipline in 1971.

But Westfield was a small college, and the demands of rationalisation were being felt. The Murray report into the governance of the University of London in the 1970s questioned the viability of Westfield; in 1982 the University agreed that the College’s science faculty would move to Queen Mary College; in 18984 this happened, with Computer Science moving to King’s College instead; and in 1989 the College merged with Queen Mary College to form Queen Mary and Westfield College.

The College’s buildings transferred to King’s College, London, but are no longer used by King’s: they’ve been converted to very expensive houses. In 2013 Queen Mary and Westfield College became Queen Mary, University of London. Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say.

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