About City

  1. Chancellor & Vice-Chancellor
  2. City Information
  3. Education
  4. City, the Community & Environment
  5. Working at City
  6. Facts about City
  1. Our history
    1. Books about our history

Our history

City's tradition of providing high quality education relevant to business and the professions dates back 160 years. For many of our graduates, time spent at City laid the groundwork for leadership, innovation and excellence that have changed the world we live in.

Click on a time period below to discover its significance to City's heritage.

1800s

1852

The Inns of Court School of Law was founded. One of the earliest providers of legal education in London, it would become a part of The City Law School in 2001.

1876

Herbert Henry Asquith, British Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916, graduated from The Inns of Court School of Law. Asquith was the first of many global leaders, including Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi, Clement Attlee, Jawaharlal Nehru, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, to pass through what is now The City Law School.

Ghandi

Margaret Thatcher in 1954

1877

St Bartholomew's College of Nursing was founded, affiliated with London's oldest hospital, St Bartholomew's. The College of Nursing would later be incorporated into the School of Health Sciences at City University London.

1891

Planning began for the Northampton Institute, to be built on what is now the main part of City's present-day campus. The land was bequeathed by the Marquess of Northampton and the Earl of Compton and generous benefactors included The Worshipful Company of Skinners and The Worshipful Company of Saddlers.

1894

nullThe Northampton Institute was founded. With the objective of promoting 'the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and wellbeing of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes', the first departments established in the Institute were Mechanical Engineering and Metal Trades, Artistic Crafts for Industry, Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, Horology, Electro-chemistry and Domestic Economy.

1898

The College Building was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of London.

1900 - 1910

1903

nullThe Technical Optics department was established within the Northampton Institute, marking the beginning of City's important contribution to the study of optometry.

1908

nullThe University Great Hall played host to the boxing competition of the first London Olympic Games, Great Britain excelled in the competition, winning 14 of 15 medals awarded. The University swimming pool (now a library for law students) was also used for the Olympic Games.

The pool as it was for the 1908 Olympic Games

1909

nullThe Northampton Institute introduced courses in Aeronautical Engineering, the first offered in the United Kingdom. In this year, the Institute also presented its first candidates for University of London BSc degrees.

1914-1918

During the First World War, the engineering faculties of the Northampton Institute were used to produce munitions and telegraph sets and members of academic staff helped to train munitions workers and service personnel. All departments also participated in schemes to retrain and find employment for wounded ex-servicemen.

Discover City during World War One.

1920s

nullWith the founding of the Department of Optometry and Visual Sciences, the Northampton Institute became one of the first establishments in the world to educate optometrists. City University London remains the only institution in London to offer a BSc in Optometry.

1939-1945

The Northampton Institute once again played a key part in the war effort, providing training courses for members of the RAF, Army and Navy in skills ranging from optics manufacturing to wireless mechanics.

The University buildings suffered bomb damage, notably the Great Hall. Post-war reconstruction work would be completed in 1953.

1946

The Institute began a period of expansion that would set the stage for its transition into City University London in 1966. Between 1946 and 1956 the number of courses grew, student numbers increased and academic research became more important, as faculty members were given the chance to take research leave from teaching and appoint research assistants.

1950s

1955

An early computer at CityThe Northampton Institute offered a summer school on the use of electronic digital computers and calculators in accountancy, costing and management, laying the groundwork for the foundation of the British Computer Society.

1957

Following a government review highlighting the growing need for technical and scientific personnel in British industry, the Northampton Institute became Northampton College of Advanced Technology, with a mandate to increase student numbers and offer advanced degrees whilst retaining the former Institute's close links with industry.

1960 - 1965

1961

The Department of Social and Industrial Studies was formed, offering classes in social sciences, industrial administration and management studies.

1962

Research assumed an increasingly important role in the life of the College, as Consultant Lecturers were appointed, a growing number of Science Research Council grants and funding for Research Fellows and Senior Research Fellows was awarded.

1963

A Government Report into higher education recommended that the Northampton College of Advanced Technology become a university, retaining its balance between education and research whilst increasing its postgraduate activity.

The groundwork necessary for this transformation began with the construction of the first halls of residence, close to the City of London.

1966

The University's 1966 charterThe University was created by Royal Charter. Dr James Tait was appointed as its first Vice-Chancellor and Oliver Thompson its first Pro-Chancellor. Together they approached the Lord Mayor of London and his enthusiasm for an association between the City and the new University led to a unique arrangement that continues today, in which the Lord Mayor in office is invited to be the Chancellor of City University London.

1967 - 1970

1967

The Development Committee of the University drafted a vision that would shape the next 10 years and would see City evolve into a University dedicated to engineering, science, business, management studies and computing.

1969

The Drysdale and Centenary Buildings were completed. The University Building would be opened a year later, and the Tait Building in 1974.

null

1970s

1971

The astronauts of Apollo 15 visited City University London and presented Vice-Chancellor Tait with a piece of heat shield from the Apollo 15 command module.

Arrival of the Apollo 15 astronauts at College Building

1975

The first students of City University London's new degree in Music began their studies. These students benefitted from the close links between the University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

1976

nullCity offered a Diploma in Journalism, capitalising on its proximity to Fleet Street and its long experience of educating for the professions.

1977

The Centre for Legal Studies was established and the Graduate Diploma in Law was offered.

City Technology Ltd was established to develop a new oxygen sensor, designed by academics from City. The sale of the company in 1993 for £24.5m marked one of British academia's most successful commercialisations of intellectual property.

1978

Professor Raoul Franklin was appointed Vice-Chancellor. He would remain in post for 20 years and be made a CBE in 1994 for his service to the University.

1980s

1982

The cuts to higher education funding by the new Conservative administration deeply affected City University London and other former Colleges of Advanced Technology, leading to redundancies and an increased strategic focus on postgraduate education.

1986

The Dean of City University Business School, Professor Brian Griffiths, resigned his Chair at City to become Margaret Thatcher's chief policy advisor.

1988

The School of Engineering was formed under the guidance of Professor Ludwik Finkelstein, its first Dean.

null

1990s

1990

The School of Informatics was formed, bringing together the departments of Information Science, Business Computing and Computer Science.

Undergraduate degrees in Law were offered for the first time.

1994

nullThe University celebrated 100 years since the founding of the Northampton Institute with a series of high profile public lectures and a gala concert in The Guildhall.

null

1995

St Bartholomew's School of Nursing and Midwifery was incorporated into the University; it would become part of the School of Health Sciences. In the same year, the Charterhouse College of Radiography was also incorporated into the University.

1998

Professor David Rhind was appointed Vice-Chancellor of City University London, remaining in the post until 2007.

2000 - 2010

2001

nullFollowing a generous donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation towards the Business School's new building project, the School was renamed the Sir John Cass Business School. The Foundation, one of London's oldest and largest education charities, continues to support the Cass Business School. Her Majesty the Queen opened the new building two years later.

The Inns of Court School of Law was integrated into The City Law School.

2003

The School of Arts was formed, bringing together the departments of Music, Journalism & Publishing and Cultural Policy & Management.

2004

nullThe Social Sciences Building was opened.

2010

City University London was ranked in the top five percent of universities in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and in the top 30 higher education institutions in the UK by the Times Higher Education Table of Tables.

2011

City University London agreed its 2016 Vision.

2012

In July 2012, City's Environmental Management System was awarded the EcoCampus Platinum Award and ISO 14001 certification in recognition of the University's commitment to reducing its environmental impacts and to integrating sustainability into its daily services and activities.

2013

Launch of inaugural annual lecture and iconic University Clock named after George Daniels, a City alumnus and one of the world's greatest watchmakers.

Cass Executive Education opens at 200 Aldersgate Street, making it one of the largest Executive Education facilities in the Square Mile.