West Surrey College of Art and Design consists of Farnham and Guildford Schools of Art. At the end of 1968 the first moves to merge the two art schools at Farnham and Guildford were underway. Guildford had undergone recent student unrest, and now in the first stages of merger, the fine art students were due to transfer from Guildford to Farnham, and the graphic design students from Farnham to Guildford. However the accommodation vacated by the graphic design students was unsuitable for fine art students, and alternative accommodation was suggested at Hatch Mill, formerly the Farnham Sanitary Laundry for 120 foundation students. However this plan was initially obstructed by the highways committee who considered the location over the other side of the bypass too dangerous for students to negotiate. There were other issues over council concerns over student attitudes (seemingly inflamed by the Guildford unrest).
Foundation students were currently housed in leased accommodation at Wrecclesham Hall. However this space was no longer available, and a second attempt was made under the leadership of Sir John Verney, one of the governors, and despite continuing opposition, a compromise was achieved, and the students were to be allowed the use of Hatch Mill for a period of nine years with a new footpath provided by the council.
In April 1969 200 students moved into the initial phase of the newly constructed building in The Hart. The building had cost £250,000 and was the work of county architect Raymond Ash.
In September 1969 Farnham School of Art formally merged with the Guildford School of Art to form the West Surrey College of Art and Design. The second phase of building commenced.
In the 1970s numbers 23 and 24 West Street were used for student accommodation, after the death of Jessie Goddard, the owner and widow of the local builder, John Goddard.
Ben Franklin was head of sculpture from 1970 to 1981. During that period he sculpted the bronze, entitled Matriarch, and this was erected in Borelli Yard.
James Hockey retired in 1971, having had an extension granted by Surrey County Council in order to ease the integration of the two schools. He had been a seminal figure for nearly 30 post war years and was succeeded by Thomas Arnold who remained as Principal until 1974.
In 1971/1972 a new course in animation was introduced. It was set up by the British Oscar-winning animator, Bob Godfrey (1921 - ).
Leonard Stoppani was Principal from 1974 until 1984. He carefully steered the College into a new era, exercising initiative, restraint to allow the development of new patterns.
Design courses were still concentrated at Guildford, and foundation, fine art and craft courses at Farnham. However by 1976 the long-established courses in photography and graphic design, together with the more recently constructed film & television production, animation and television graphics were brought together under the Audio Visual Studies department under the leadership of Peter Sanger. The remaining courses finally moved from Guildford to Farnham and by 1977 all students and staff from Guildford had moved into the new building. Degree intakes started in 1980.
In 1978 the difficult decision was made to phase out all vocational design courses (Graphic Design, Product Design, Interior Design and Surface Design). They were considered more appropriate to the facilities of a polytechnic.
In 1978/1979 Harold Cheesman, Head of Fine Art retired, and was succeeded by the renowned "Polish Scottish colourist", Leszek Muszynski, who had taught at Farnham since 1951.
During his time Art History was on the curriculum, and it was the difficulties in accessing the William Morris collection at Kelmscott Manor, that inspired Joseph Acheson, the Senior Lecturer in Art History, to mount an exhibition on William Morris that was held at Farnham in November 1981.
By 1982 there were nearly 640 full-time students attending the college. The Foundation course accepted 120 students a year, and remained in the old grammar school in West Street. The degree courses were organised into four departments: Fine Art (Painting with 20 students, Sculpture with 12 students and Printmaking with 12 students); Audio-Visual Studies (Photography with 25 students, Film & Video with 12 students and Animation with 12 students); Three Dimensional Design (Ceramics, Glass & Metals introduced in September 1981) and Textiles (Woven Textiles, Printed Textiles). Art History and Complementary Studies were an integral part of all the courses.
Michael Fairclough, lecturer, executed an abstract mural reflecting the town's geographical location. It covers a blank wall of the newly opened Post Office at 107 West Street.
The second stage of the college development was completed in 1977, although the foundation course continued there into the 1990s when it too transferred to Falkner Road.
John Morris became Principal in 1984, remaining until 1986. Gary Crossley became Acting Director, until the arrival of Norman Taylor in 1986.
In 1995 the West Surrey College of Art and Design merged with the Epsom & Ewell School of Art to form the Surrey Institute of Art and Design.