Our fondest memories of Brookes’ 150th anniversary

Thursday, 30 June 2016

150 anniversary closes

Last month, the University brought its 150th anniversary to a close by holding its very first Founders’ Day event. Over the last two years, the University has brought together students, staff, alumni, friends and supporters of the institution with members of the local community to celebrate the milestone.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor June Girvin said: “It has been a fabulous year of celebration, reflection on our strengths to date and a confidence that we have much to be proud of – both about our history, and in our plans for the future.

“We can now look forward to the next era for Brookes, building on the strong relationships that we have cultivated through our anniversary.

“There have been so many highlights from the anniversary and I know students and staff members will each have their favourite.”

Here, we look back at just some of our fondest memories of the 150th anniversary celebrations:

Live Friday: Wisdom, Wonders and Widgets at the Ashmolean Museum (14 March 2014)

The anniversary kicked off in style with a Live Friday event held at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Over 5,500 people attended the event which showcased the range of activity going on at Brookes; from jazz music to a singing robot, resuscitation to circus skills, bamboo bikes and business poetry. The event later won a Silver Award in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Awards 2015.

In November 2015, Brookes held a similar event, Brookes Live, at its Headington Campus.

Live Friday 2014

Dr Katherine Grainger CBE’s Inauguration and the official opening of the John Henry Brookes Building (20 March 2015)

In one of the most memorable days of the anniversary celebrations, hundreds of students, staff and special guests joined together to welcome Dr Katherine Grainger CBE as the University’s new Chancellor. Katherine was joined by her three predecessors, Shami Chakrabarti CBE, Jon Snow and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

After delivering a heartfelt inaugural speech, Katherine, along with the three previous chancellors officially opened the John Henry Brookes Building and later, delivered an engaging debate on human rights.

20 March 2015

Oxford Brookes’ Anniversary (22 May 2015)

Held at the Taylor Institution, where the Oxford School of Art was first based, Oxford Brookes’ official birthday celebrations centred on a special performance by Flintlock Theatre. Written by Anna Glynn, Educating Oxford told the story of Oxford Brookes beginning with its origins, the development of the institution and the people who were the driving force behind the institution flourishing into the internationally renowned University it is today.

Two very special guests and Brookes’ eldest living alumni were reunited at the event. Phyllis Timbs and Doris Simms studied Economics and Short-hand typing at what was then the Oxford School of Technology, Art and Commerce in 1935 when they were 16 years old.

22 May 2016 event

Vice-Chancellor Inauguration and Brookes People Awards (19 June 2015)

Professor Alistair Fitt was officially inaugurated as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University at a special event in front of a packed audience of staff, students and invited guests.

The day was cause for further celebration as Professor Fitt, in his first task after inauguration, presented members of staff with awards in recognition for their achievements and contributions to the University.

The Brookes People Awards 2015 was the first time an organisation-wide staff recognition scheme had been run by the University and with over 700 nominations received from colleagues, it was an incredible success.


Brewing of the John Henry Celebration Ale

In a novel way to celebrate 150 years, Oxford Brookes alumnus and proprietor of Shotover Brewery Ed Murray came up with the perfect recipe to create the John Henry Celebration Ale.  Ed scoured the National Brewing Library to find out what beer would have tasted like in 1865. He discovered a recipe for an export India Pale Ale (IPA) from 1864 and from this, produced a beer which reflected the origins of the University.

The beer launched at the end of October 2015 and sold out within a few weeks.

Brookes Beer launched

Open Lecture Series

Over the last two years, Oxford Brookes has hosted a diverse programme of eye-opening lectures and thought-provoking debates with a variety of high-profile speakers including Dame Tessa Jowell, BBC journalist Sian Williams and comedian, writer and director Stewart Lee, as well as a host of Oxford Brookes lecturers and researchers.

A new programme of open lectures, events and exhibitions for 2016/2017 will be released later this year.

Stewart Lee Open Lecture

Founders’ Day (24 May 2016)

British entrepreneur, Dragon’s Den panellist and Oxford Brookes alumna Sarah Willingham was the University’s special guest at the University’s first Founders’ Day.

Founders’ Day will take place every year as a legacy of the 150th anniversary celebrations and will include a John Henry Brookes lecture on a chosen topic.

Launching the Oxford Brookes time capsule