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Technical Education in Sunderland – A short story

The Galen Building

The Galen Building in Green Terrace.

Dr Maurice Hutton

Dr Maurice Hutton, Principle of Sunderland Technical College.

The Council approved the plans for a Technical College in Sunderland in 1894, and in 1896 a site was purchased on Green Terrace. The college opened in 1901 with the Principal and four full-time lecturers in charge of four departments, Chemistry, Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Physics and Electrical Engineering together with Commerce and Languages and with part-time lecturers in other subjects including Navigation, Naval Architecture.

It was expected that 200 students would enrol at the college's opening, but nearly 700 applied, all but 30 as part-time students.

The first principal of the new Technical College was Mr Benchara Brandford. His view of education was both liberal and comprehensive stressing the ideal of a liberal education for artisans. Brandford seems to have hoped to become in effect the director of Sunderland's higher education, and head of a university college comprising the Technical and the Central School of Art, but that was not to be. He resigned in 1905.

It is claimed that the Sunderland College was the first college to introduce the "Sandwich-courses" in 1903. By 1908, 25 firms were participating in this scheme whereby local engineering apprentices would spend six months in full attendance at the college, and six months in their places of employment over a period of three to four years.

By the First World War a pattern of higher education had been established in Sunderland in which the three local authority colleges, the Technical College, the College of Arts and Crafts and the Teachers Training College, pursued their separate existence. This continued for another half century, until in 1969 the Polytechnic was formed from a union of former Arc and Technical Colleges, to be followed a few years later by the amalgamation of the College of Education with the Polytechnic.

The vision held by the first principal, Mr Brandford was therefore partly to come true in the 70s under the Polytechnics rector, our beloved, Dr Maurice Hutton.

The latest step up the ladder of recognition came in 1992 when the Sunderland Polytechnic was awarded University status - The University of Sunderland.

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