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Celebrating our Polytechnic history – 125 Years of the Regent Street Polytechnic

4 July 2016

Fyvie Hall dressed for dinner

On 23 June 2016 The University of Westminster celebrated the 125th anniversary since the establishment of its predecessor institution, the Regent Street Polytechnic.

23 June 1891 saw the founding of the Regent Street Polytechnic, endowed with public money. It built on the previous philanthropic work of Quintin Hogg, founder of the University, and was one of several new Polytechnics created at that time and based on his model.

To mark this historic moment, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Geoffrey Petts and the Chair of the Court of Governors, Peter Kyle OBE, hosted a celebration dinner welcoming University alumni, honorary doctorates and friends of the University for an evening of celebration featuring music performances by Billy Ocean, an honorary doctor of the University, and Emmanuel Nwamadi, current University of Westminster student and finalist on BBC’s The Voice UK 2015.

Emmanuel Nwamadi sings in the Regent Street Cinema
Emmanuel Nwamadi performing at the 125 anniversary celebrations

Simon Wood, 2015 winner of Masterchef, was the guest chef for the evening and the event was attended by the University’s Chancellor, Frances, Lady Sorrell OBE; broadcaster and honorary doctor Sandi Toksvig OBE; Director General of the UK and Foreign Commonwealth Office, honorary doctor Cressida Dick CBE QMP; and former Vice-Chancellors, Professor Terence Burlin and Dr Geoffrey Copland CBE, among many others.

Hogg’s Young Men’s Christian Institute, based at 309 Regent Street, provided for the athletic, intellectual, social and religious needs of young men. It took on the name and spirit of the Royal Polytechnic Institution, which had previously occupied the building. In 1891 the YMCI began to receive public funding in recognition of its pioneering work and ambitious programme of evening classes. This model was replicated across London and, as a result, the name of the institution changed to the Regent Street Polytechnic on 23 June 1891.

Lady Sorrell, Freya Thompson, Jim Hirschmann
Chancellor Lady Sorrell, incoming 2016/17 SU President Freya Thompson and exiting 2015/16 SU President Jim Hirschmann celebrate 125 years.

The Regent Street Polytechnic developed into the University of Westminster, which today attracts more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and continues its offering of arts and sciences, which have been expanded to include social sciences, humanities, law, business, media, architecture and the built environment and media with a socially conscious and globally engaged outlook.

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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