The History of Brunel

This timeline celebrates 50 years of Brunel University London's unique history.

Brunel University London is a world-class university based in Uxbridge, West London, and was established in 1966. Our mission has always been to combine academic rigour with the practical, entrepreneurial and imaginative approach pioneered by our namesake Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

1798-06-01 00:00:00


Joseph Lancaster opens a school in Borough Road for poor boys living in his neighbourhood in Southwark. This is the forerunner of Borough Road College which is established in Southwark in 1817 but moves to Osterley (the University’s former Osterley campus) in 1889.

1878-09-10 10:30:26


Maria Grey College is founded in Bishopsgate, London ‘to raise teaching to a profession as honourable and honoured for women as for men.’ The college moves to Twickenham (the University’s former Twickenham campus) in 1969.

1902-09-10 10:30:26


Pupil-teacher Centre is established to offer training courses in handicraft teaching. This becomes Shoreditch Technical Institute and moves to Englefield Green (the University’s former Runnymede campus) in 1951. The college is later renamed the Shoreditch Training College then Shoreditch College of Education.

1928-09-10 10:30:26


Acton Technical College is established when Middlesex County Council transferred its Junior Technical School, founded in Chiswick in 1910, to Acton in west London.

1957-09-10 10:30:26


Acton Technical College is divided into two, creating the new institution, Brunel College of Technology. The new college focuses on the education of technologists and, in particular, it pioneers the concept of the ‘sandwich’ courses, working with local employers to establish the best model.

1962-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel College is designated a College of Advanced Technology. It was agreed that a completely new college should be erected on a separate site. The site chosen was a 170-acre plot in Uxbridge, formerly the Lowe and Shawyer nursery and market garden. Building work begins at Uxbridge in 1965.

1966-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel College is awarded a Royal Charter on 9 June (signed on 6 July), allowing it to become Brunel University. The first students move to Uxbridge in 1967. The transfer of all departments from Acton to Uxbridge is completed in 1971.

1966-09-10 10:30:26


3rd Earl of Halsbury becomes Chancellor of the University.

1968-09-10 10:30:26


The University is officially opened by Lord Beeching.

1976-09-10 10:30:26


The West London Institute is created from the merger between Borough Road College, Chiswick Polytechnic and Maria Grey College.

1980-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel merges with Shoreditch College of Education, one of the leading teacher training colleges in the field of craft, design and technology, which becomes Brunel’s Runnymede campus. London School of Occupational Therapy join the West London Institute. Brunel establishes a joint Postgraduate Research Centre with Hillingdon Hospital.

1981-09-10 10:30:26


Ballet Rambert school is formed within the West London Institute of Higher Education.

1983-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel Institute for Bioengineering is established with Professor Heinz Wolff as director.

1986-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel establishes the first University Science Park. West Middlesex University Hospital School of Physiotherapy joins West London Institute.

1991-09-10 10:30:26


South Middlesex Hospital School of Physiotherapy joins West London Institute.

1995-09-10 10:30:26


West London Institute of Higher Education becomes Brunel University College, which merges with the University two years later. Until now, Brunel’s traditional fields remained engineering, science, technology, social science, education and management, but the merger added expertise in new subject areas and innovative modes of study with performing arts, humanities, geography, health, social work, sport sciences and business.

1997-09-10 10:30:26


The Rt Hon The Lord Wakeham becomes Chancellor of the University.

2003-09-10 10:30:26


Ballet Rambert decides to establish its independence from the University.

2004-09-10 10:30:26


Design leaves the Runnymede campus to join the Engineering departments at Uxbridge. The £6 million outdoor athletics centre is opened by David Moorcroft.

2005-09-10 10:30:26


Twickenham campus is closed and Education moves to Uxbridge. The £7 million indoor athletics and netball centre is opened.

2006-01-01 21:00:20


2006 marks the 200th anniversary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s birth, and the 40th anniversary of the award of Brunel University’s Royal Charter.

2006-09-10 10:30:26


Osterley campus closes, and Health and Social Care move to the new Mary Seacole Building at Uxbridge. For the first time in 25 years the University is based on one campus.

2007-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel sells its Runnymede campus.

2009-09-10 10:30:26


The Magna Carta Institute is established, as an interdisciplinary institute, it brings together leading academics in the fields of politics, economics, media, communications, ethics and leadership.

2011-09-10 10:30:26


The Institute of the Environment wins the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education for their research revealing the link between chemicals in rivers and reproductive health.

2012-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel hosts the Korean Olympic Team and the Canadian Paralympic Team for London 2012.

2012-09-10 10:30:26


Professor Julia Buckingham becomes Brunel’s first female Vice-Chancellor and Sir Richard Sykes is appointed as Chancellor.

2014-09-10 10:30:26


Brunel undergoes a major internal reorganisation, becoming Brunel University London following Royal assent of its new charter.

2016-01-01 15:53:43


Brunel University London celebrates its 50th anniversary since being rewarded the Royal Charter in 1966.

The History of Brunel

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