Beginnings of Brookes: Our digital timeline launches

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Digi timeline news image

Oxford Brookes is excited to introduce our new digital archive timeline which is available to be viewed on the website from today (29 January).

The timeline explores the history of Oxford Brookes in its entirety and includes archive materials, factual articles, and personal accounts told using images, video and the written word.

The timeline’s story begins, in fact, not with the opening of the Oxford School of Art in 1865 but with the laying of the first foundation stone of Westminster College, the first Methodist teacher training college in the country, in 1849. Westminster College, part of Oxford Brookes since 2000 and sited at Harcourt Hill campus, would go on to protest against changes to teachers’ salaries in order to continue to provide worthwhile education to all, regardless of background; a sentiment which is still echoed in Brookes’ ethics today.

Although the Oxford School of Art would not open until 16 years later, The Great Exhibition provided the context for the idea of schools like the Oxford School of Art to be conceived but also created a shift among political and public expectations due to the widespread appreciation for this fascinating work and concepts which were completely new and revolutionary to people at the time.

Naturally, this changed attitudes towards education which up until this point in history didn’t include subjects based on art, technology and science. Institutions themselves were thought to be only for the wealthy, upper-class gentleman.

Crystal Palace

Eventually, The Oxford School of Art opened its door –to just one room in the Taylor Institution –on the 22 May 1865 and during its first quarter attracted 126 students. It wasn’t long though, before an independent committee proposed to set up the Oxford School of Science which would, three years later, merge with the School of Art.

Explore more of the beginnings of Oxford Brookes on the digital timeline where you will find a time-table and price list of classes available when the School of Art opened, a letter application written by Alexander Macdonald who would become the first principal and original reports and notices from the Town Hall committee meetings which were held to first establish the School of Art. 

More information about the 150th anniversary celebrations can also be found on the 150 web page.