Our history

The University of Manchester was created by bringing together The Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST, two of Britain's most distinguished universities, to create a powerful new force in British Higher Education.

Manchester has a long tradition of excellence in Higher Education. UMIST can trace its roots back to 1824 and the formation of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute, whilst The Victoria University of Manchester was founded as Owen's College in 1851. After 100 years of working together, these two great institutions formally combined on 22 October 2004 to form a single university.

Historical achievements

We have a history of breaking new ground in science and engineering. Rutherford began his work here on splitting the atom (and later received the Nobel prize in 1908 for his work on radioactivity). The 'Baby', the world's first stored-program computer, and Manchester Mark 1 came into being here. It is the birthplace of Chemical Engineering. The world's first steerable radio telescope at Jodrell Bank was built here by Bernard Lovell. Since 1906, when former student Joseph Thomson won the Nobel prize for physics, the University has produced more than 20 Nobel laureates.

The University's history is closely linked to Manchester's emergence as the world's first industrial city. Manchester businessmen and industrialists established the Mechanics' Institute to ensure that their workers could learn the basic principles of science. Similarly, John Owens, a Manchester textile merchant, left a bequest of £96,942 in 1851 for the purpose of founding a college for the education of males on non-sectarian lines. Owens College was established and granted a Royal Charter in 1880 to become England's first civic university, The Victoria University of Manchester.

Industrial links

By 1905 the two institutions were a large and active force in the area, with the Mechanics' Institute, the forerunner of the modern UMIST, forming a Faculty of Technology and working alongside The Victoria University of Manchester. This relationship worked to the advantage of all, not least the many students who received a first class education and the employers who benefited from the knowledge and skills imparted by the two institutions. Although UMIST achieved independent university status in 1955, the two universities have continued to work together, true to the vision of their pioneering industrialist founders.

The Faculty Science and Engineering today comprises nine academic Schools, each with a powerful legacy of research and teaching success, and an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to their areas of expertise. With some of the highest quality staff and facilities and a broad spread of academic subjects, we are competing with the best universities in the world.

The History of Science at The University of Manchester
The History of The University of Manchester
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