The Chemistry Department of the Northern Polytechnic initiated full-time courses in rubber technology in 1919 but it was unable to gain support from industry. They were restarted in 1924 targeting middle management, also a Rubber Trades School was started for boys aged 13.5 - 15 years to qualify them for a 5-year Rubber Workshop Practice course as paid apprentices. The Institution of Rubber Industries (IRI) was formed in 1921 and the Plastics Institute (PI) in 1931, and the Department was soon offering courses leading to the rubber Licentiate and Associate diplomas (LIRI and AIRI) with special research facilities on offer in addition as required. In 1936 the Rubber Trades School course was extended to three years, but it was closed down in 1944 (despite protests from the London rubber industry), leaving the rubber technology courses intact.
In June 1945 as a result of the 1944 Percy Report the Ministry of Education and the IRI approved the setting up of a National College of Rubber Technology at the Northern Polytechnic following a proposal from its Governors. The college opened in April 1948 under an autonomous Governing Body funded directly by the Ministry with courses initially held in the Polytechnic. The first LIRIs and AIRIs at the NCRT were awarded in 1949-50 and the first APIs awarded in 1950-51, and the college also awarded its own diplomas (the LNCRT and ANCRT). From 1967-8 the college also awarded C.N.A.A. B.Sc. Degrees in polymer science and technology. A new building was constructed in Benwell Road designed to provide a working area of over 20,000 sq. feet over four floors and suitable for 90 students, and in 1953 the college transferred to its new premises.
The NCRT Hall of Residence at 45-47 Carleton Road was purchased by the Ministry and extensively repaired and redecorated, and on completion during the session 1952-3 it was opened to students. In 1960 49 Carleton Road was purchased and integrated with the other two houses, and now had room for 70 students.
The college opened with 142 students which rose to 241 in 1957-8, the college building had already exceeded its capacity, and further increases were inevitable with the growth of the plastics industry. A grant of £380,000 was approved for an extension in 1961, but this figure was revised in 1963 to £790,000 when the significant re-housing costs were added, so the college reviewed its plans and in 1964 proposed it should became a post-graduate college with a move to Loughborough, affiliating itself with Loughborough University. In 1965 this proposal was rejected by the Department of Education & Science which stated that the NCRT should cease to exist as a legal entity, which took place in September 1969. The assets and staff of the NCRT were transferred to the Northern Polytechnic and its identity and work continued to serve the polymer industry as part of the Northern Polytechnic (and its successors) until 1986.