Finsbury Technical College opens on 19 February
Finsbury Technical College was formally opened on 19th February 1893, and is now recognised as having been the first technical college in England.
The College was set up as a result of a meeting of 16 of the City of London's livery companies held in 1876, where it was agreed to form the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education (CGLI). The aim of the CGLI was improve the training of craftsmen, and the two main strategies devised were to create a Central Institution in London, and to conduct a system of qualifying examinations in technical subjects.
No single site could be found immediately for this Central Institution, so evening classes were held at a school in Cowper Street, off City Road, enabling instruction in chemistry and physics to be provided to those who wished to continue their education after working during the day.
The school proved such a success that new premises had to be found in nearby Leonard Street, which became Finsbury Technical College in 1893. It's purpose was to be a ‘model trade school for the instruction of artisans and other persons preparing for intermediate posts in industrial works'.
The college offered opportunities for daytime and evening study, and subjects included building, design, drawing, engineering, mathematics and science.
Both Fitz and Arthur Herbert attended Finsbury Technical College, starting in 1896 and 1898 respectively, Arthur studying electrical engineering.
Finsbury's first secretary and organising director was Philip Magnus, and he was supported by a number of remarkable professors who between them quickly established the college as a centre of innovative and progressive instruction. As a result the College quickly established it's credibility as a successful institution and this subsequently provided the future model for the pattern of technical colleges across the country. It's success depended greatly on the founding professors namely Henry Armstrong (1848-1937), William Ayrton (1847-1908), Silvanus Thompson (1851-1916) and John Perry (1850-1920). Armstrong for example was able to develop and refine his revolutionary methods of teaching science at the college. Silvanus P. Thompson was professor of physics and later was Principal of the Finsbury College for thirty years. William. E. Ayrton (1847-1908) was Professor of Physics and Telegraphy (1883-1884) and went on to become a Professor at the Central Institution (1884-1908) when that was finally created in 1884. John Perry was a brilliant electrical engineer who had been Kelvin's assistant at Glasgow and also worked with William Ayrton at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo.
The College closed in 1926, when it was incorporated into what is now Imperial College.
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