Victoria University of Manchester

Last updated

Victoria University of Manchester
Victoria Univ Manchester - Coat of Arms.jpg
Arms of the Victoria University of Manchester, adopted 1871
Former names
Owens College
Motto Latin: Arduus ad solem
Motto in English
Striving towards the sun
Type Public
Active12 March 1851 [1] 1 October 2004
England, UK
Colours Scarf: Blue, green white

The former Victoria University of Manchester, now the University of Manchester, was founded in 1851 as Owens College. In 1880, the college joined the federal Victoria University, gaining an independent university charter in 1904 as the Victoria University of Manchester after the collapse of the federal university. [2]


On 1 October 2004, the Victoria University of Manchester merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) to form a new, larger entity, and the new university was named the University of Manchester.



Cobden's House, Quay Street Former County Court, Quay Street, Manchester 3.JPG
Cobden's House, Quay Street

Owens College was founded in 1851, named after John Owens, a textile merchant, who left a bequest of £96,942 for the purpose. Its first accommodation was at Cobden House on Quay Street, Manchester, in a house which had been the residence of Richard Cobden. In 1859, Owens College was approved as a provincial examination centre for matriculation candidates of the University of London. [3] As the college progressed it became inadequate so a move to Chorlton on Medlock was planned in 1871. Alfred Waterhouse was the architect of the new college building, west of Oxford Road, which was opened in 1873. [lower-alpha 1]

Owens College became the first affiliate college of the federal Victoria University in 1880. In 1884, University College Liverpool also joined the Victoria University, followed in 1887 by the Yorkshire College in Leeds. In 1903, University College Liverpool left the Victoria University to become the independent University of Liverpool; Leeds followed in 1904 to become the University of Leeds.

The new Victoria University of Manchester was established by royal charter on 15 July 1903; the university and Owens College were merged by Act of Parliament on 24 June 1904.


In the mid-1960s the university and the city corporation commissioned Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley to produce a new plan for the campus. The final report was issued in 1966; it recommended removing traffic from Oxford Road to the adjacent main routes east and west, and building of the Precinct Centre – subsequently constructed in 1970–1972. [4] The Precinct Centre building included the oldest part of the Manchester Business School, Devonshire House and Crawford House and the St Peter's House, the University Chaplaincy. It stood on Booth Street East and Booth Street West and Oxford Road ran through it at ground level. The architects were Wilson & Womersley, in association with the university's planning officer, H. Thomas; for St Peter's House the architects were Cruickshank & Seward. [5] [6] [lower-alpha 2] The Precinct Centre was the largest public building completed in the campus redevelopment, containing office and shopping space, a pub, library and post office amongst other town centre facilities, designed to separate human from traffic. [7]

The Precinct Centre was demolished in August 2015 as part of Manchester University's £50m redevelopment of Manchester Business School. [8]

On 5 March 2003 it was announced that the university was to merge with UMIST on 1 October 2004, to form the largest conventional university in the UK, the University of Manchester, following which the Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST would cease to exist. The new university was inaugurated on 1 October 2004.

The university had more than 18,000 full-time students (including 2500 international students from more than 120 countries) by the time it merged with UMIST. It was regarded as one of the top universities in the country, frequently achieving top ratings for research. [9]


See also Category:Vice-Chancellors of the Victoria University of Manchester

The chief officers of the university were the vice-chancellor, [10] the registrar, the bursar and the librarian. In later years many administrative changes were made that increased the independence of the Director of Estates and Services, the Director of the Manchester Computing Centre, and eventually combined the offices of registrar and bursar as that of registrar and secretary, the last holder of this post was Eddie Newcomb (1995–2004). [11]

Notable people

In the early decades of Owens College, a few outstanding faculty members set high standards for the new institution. These included statistician Stanley Jevons, jurist James Bryce, William Eyre Walker (Art Master) and particularly Henry Enfield Roscoe Professor of Chemistry and Principal of the college. [12] It also educated the young J. J. Thomson before he went to Trinity College, Cambridge

Since the later 1800s many notable people have worked and studied at the Victoria University of Manchester as, for example, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Motto and arms

The motto of the university was Arduus ad solem, meaning "striving towards the sun". It is a metaphor for aspiring to enlightenment. It is quoted from Virgil's Aeneid , Book II, [13] and the archives do not record the reasons for its choice. [14] The original verse refers to a serpent and the sun, both of which featured in the university coat of arms. The serpent is traditionally associated with wisdom. The arms were granted in October 1871 to Owens College while the Victoria University had arms of its own which fell into abeyance from 1904 upon the merger of the College with the University.

According to Norman Marlow (A. N. Marlow, Senior Lecturer in Latin, Department of Classics at the university in the 1960s), the motto Arduus ad solem – taken from Aeneid II – was a play on words, relating to Manchester's geographical situation. The Virgilian context referred to Pyrrhus, appearing in shining armour 'like a snake which has sloughed its skin, reaching upwards with an effort towards the sun'; the motto was chosen by the Professor of Latin at the time (Augustus Wilkins) and the coat of arms was applied for – suggesting both the idea of the institution striving towards excellence, and the city (with its particularly high annual rainfall) 'reaching upwards with difficulty towards the sun'.[ citation needed ]

The emblem of the university in use for a number of years (last used September 2004) was based on the archway into the quadrangle from Oxford Road where there used to be a set of coats of arms relating to the history of the component colleges on the gates.

See also


  1. Both buildings still exist: the Quay Street house has been adapted to many purposes, recently as offices for solicitors. The college building by Waterhouse is described in the article on the University of Manchester.
  2. There were also shops at ground level and first floor level and in the early years there was a branch public library.

Related Research Articles

University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology Former English university

The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) was a university based in the centre of the city of Manchester in England. It specialised in technical and scientific subjects and was a major centre for research. On 1 October 2004, it amalgamated with the Victoria University of Manchester to produce a new entity called the University of Manchester.

University of Manchester Public research university in Manchester, England

The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is a red brick university, a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century.

University of Leeds university in Leeds, United Kingdom

The University of Leeds is a public research university in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was established in 1874 as the Yorkshire College of Science. In 1884 it merged with the Leeds School of Medicine and was renamed Yorkshire College. It became part of the federal Victoria University in 1887, joining Owens College and University College Liverpool. In 1904 a royal charter was granted to the University of Leeds by King Edward VII.

John Rylands Library Research library building on Deansgate in Manchester, England

The John Rylands Library is a late-Victorian neo-Gothic building on Deansgate in Manchester, England. The library, which opened to the public in 1900, was founded by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her husband, John Rylands. The John Rylands Library and the library of the University of Manchester merged in July 1972 into the John Rylands University Library of Manchester; today it is part of The University of Manchester Library.

Victoria University was an English federal university established by royal charter on 20 April 1880 at Manchester: a university for the North of England open to affiliation by colleges such as Owens College, which immediately did so. University College Liverpool joined the university in 1884, followed by Yorkshire College, Leeds, in 1887. The university and the colleges were distinct corporate bodies until Owens College merged with the university in 1904. A supplemental charter of 1883 enabled the granting of degrees in medicine and surgery.

Alliance Manchester Business School business school

Alliance Manchester Business School is the business school of the University of Manchester in Manchester, England.

Maths and Social Sciences Building

The Maths and Social Sciences Building is a high-rise tower in Manchester, England. It was part of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) until that university merged with the Victoria University of Manchester, to form the University of Manchester, in 2004. It was vacated by the university in 2010 but is currently in use by the School of Materials while waiting for a new building to be constructed.

Barnes Wallis Building

The Barnes Wallis Building/Wright Robinson Hall is a university building in central Manchester. It forms part of the campus of the former University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, which merged in 2004 with the nearby Victoria University of Manchester.

Schuster Laboratory houses the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester

The Schuster Laboratory houses the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and is named after Sir Franz Arthur Friedrich Schuster. It is located on Brunswick Street, Manchester, as is within the Engineering and Sciences faculty of the University. The building was designed by Fairhurst, Harry S. & Sons, of the Fairhurst Design Group, and was completed in 1967. The roof of the largest Lecture Theatre in the building has an abstract sculpture by Michael Piper on it. The building was refurbished in 2007.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FES) is one of the four faculties that comprise the University of Manchester in northern England. Established in October 2004, the faculty was originally called the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. It spans a range of "discipline areas" consisting of the Schools of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science; Chemistry; Petroleum Engineering; Computer Science; Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science; Physics and Astronomy; Electrical & Electronic Engineering; Materials; Mathematics; and Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering.

The School of Biological Sciences is a School within the Faculty Biology, Medicine and Health at The University of Manchester. Biology at University of Manchester and its precursor institutions has gone through a number of reorganizations, the latest of which was the change from a Faculty of Life Sciences to the current School.

The Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester was formed from three departments in the 2004 merger between the Victoria University of Manchester (VUM) and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The merged departments were the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering which was joint between both universities, the Department of Mechanical Aerospace and Manufacturing Engineering at UMIST and the Manchester School of Engineering at VUM.

Frederick William Ratcliffe is an English philologist and librarian. He has a Ph.D. in German, given for his thesis on Heinrich von Mügeln at the University of Manchester. From 1954 he was an assistant librarian or sublibrarian in the universities of Manchester, Glasgow, and Newcastle upon Tyne. He succeeded Moses Tyson as the University Librarian at Manchester in 1965 and from 1972 was additionally director of the John Rylands University Library. In 1980 he became University Librarian at the University of Cambridge where he remained until his retirement in 1994. From 1995 to 2000 he was Parker Librarian at the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College. He has written a number of papers on the subject of librarianship including the preservation of library materials.

Joseph Stanislaus Hansom, FRIBA (1845-1931) was a British architect. He was the son and partner of the better known Joseph Aloysius Hansom, inventor of the Hansom cab. He trained with his father, becoming his partner in 1869 and taking over the family practice fully in 1880. In 1881 he inherited the practice of John Crawley (1834-1881). In 1881, he designed Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Bognor Regis.

The Bogle Stroll is a sponsored 55-mile walk conducted annually in Manchester, United Kingdom. Participants in the walk raise money for charity.

Mechanics Institute, Manchester

The Mechanics' Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, is notable as the building in which three significant British institutions were founded: the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). In the 1960s it was occupied by the Manchester College of Commerce. It has been a Grade II* listed building since 11 May 1972.

Greygarth Hall

Greygarth Hall is a catered inter-university hall of residence for men, situated in Victoria Park, south Manchester, England. It is one of the halls on the "Rusholme campus" within 3 minutes walk of the famous Curry Mile. Greygarth Hall was founded in 1961, and in 2010-11 was extensively refurbished. The hall is a grade II listed building and was a University of Manchester Licensed Hall from 1965 until the university abolished the 'licensed' state in the early 2000s.

University of Manchester Library Academic library system of the University of Manchester

The University of Manchester Library is the library system and information service of the University of Manchester. The main library is on the Oxford Road campus of the university, with its entrance on Burlington Street. There are also ten other library sites, eight spread out across the University's campus, plus The John Rylands Library on Deansgate and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre situated inside Manchester Central Library.

The Beyer building (University of Manchester) building in Manchester, UK; part of the University of Manchester

The Beyer building is part of the Old Quadrangle, of the University of Manchester, on Oxford Road in Manchester. The quadrangle comprises the oldest buildings of the University and was completed in 1904, prior to the Owens College becoming the Victoria University of Manchester. The original college building on Oxford Road was built in 1873. The Beyer building was the second side to be completed in 1887. It was funded entirely by Charles Beyer through his will of 1876. Beyer was a well known philanthropist and co-founder of Beyer, Peacock and Company, one of the world's most famous locomotive manufacturers. He was a life governor of Owens college, actively involved in the Owens College Extension Movement, and the single biggest donor to the Extension fund, which in total raised over £100,000 to construct the original building at Oxford Road.

Fallowfield Campus

The Fallowfield Campus is the main residential campus of the University of Manchester. It is located in Fallowfield, Manchester, 2 miles (3 km) south of the main university site, to which it is connected by Wilmslow Road and the A34.


  1. 12 March 1851 is the opening date of Owens College; the Victoria University received a royal charter 20 April 1880; a royal charter of 15 July 1903 created the Victoria University of Manchester (and abolished the pre-existing University); University and College were merged by Act of Parliament 24 June 1904. Charlton, H. B. (1951), Portrait of a University. Manchester UP, p. 138.
  2. "History of the Victoria University of Manchester". University of Manchester . Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  3. Harte, Negley (1986) The University of London 1836–1986, p.106
  4. Manchester Education Precinct: final report / Hugh Wilson & Lewis Womersley. 1966
  5. Pullan, Brian & Abendstern, Michele (2004) A History of the University of Manchester, 1973–90. Manchester University Press ISBN   0-7190-6242-X
  6. Hartwell, C., et al. (2004) Lancashire: Manchester and the South-east. New Haven: Yales University Press; p. 429
  7. H. Wilson & J. L. Womersley (1975). Manchester Education Precinct: Summary of 'A Review of the Plan 1974'. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  8. "Oxford Road bridge meets its demise: Photos as Manchester University's 'iconic' bridge is torn down". Manchester Evening News. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  9. Research Assessment Exercise; University of Manchester (The) Archived 22 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Vice-Chancellor's Archive". ELGAR: Electronic Gateway to Archives at Rylands. John Rylands Library. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  11. "Eddie Newcomb". AHUA Annual Conference 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  12. Messinger, Gary S. Manchester in the Victorian Age: the half-known city Manchester University Press 1985 p.142 ISBN   0719018439
  13. Virgil Aeneid 2.475 <>
  14. Thompson, Joseph (1886) The Owens College—its foundation and growth. Manchester: J. E. Cornish

Further reading

This is a list of books about the Victoria University of Manchester and its predecessor Owens College.

Coordinates: 53°27′56″N2°14′01″W / 53.46556°N 2.23361°W / 53.46556; -2.23361