John Henry Brookes: The University’s spiritual founding father

Tuesday, 03 February 2015

JHB for digi timeline story

Oxford Brookes is excited to introduce our new digital archive timeline which is available to be viewed on the website now.

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

Although he didn’t arrive in Oxford until 1928, John Henry Brookes is fondly remembered as Oxford Brookes’ spiritual founding father due to the lasting principles he instilled and the growth of the institution he is responsible for.

When John Henry Brookes became head teacher at the Oxford School of Art, there were just two members of staff teaching 90 students; the institution had grown very little up until that point. By the time he retired, The Oxford College of Technology was firmly established, the foundations and profoundly modern ethics set to grow into the University it was to become.

During his 28 year long career, John Henry Brookes, believing that education should be available to all, also created two other schools; Cheney School and Southfield School, now known as Oxford Spires Academy as well as The Oxford College of Further Education. Considering all of this was achieved during some of the most trying times in British history including the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 30s, World War 2 and the aftermath, the achievements are even more impressive and unrivalled in the history of British education.  Nick Clack whose family were close friends of John Henry Brookes talks about his memories of the educationalist in a special video recording for the timeline which can also be viewed below.

Bryan Brown ignites John Henry Brookes’ legacy in an article which can be found on the digital timeline.  Speaking of his biography of John Henry Brookes which is due out this year, Brown said: “I hope my book will go some way towards repaying the huge debt of gratitude that I and many other past students owe to JHB.

The digital timeline can be accessed from the Oxford Brookes website. More information about the 150th anniversary celebrations can also be found on the 150 web page.