UMIST, Principal's Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Archive of the Principal's Office, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The Principal's Archive provides a detailed record of the administration and development of UMIST and its predecessor institutions including the Manchester College of Science and Technology and the Manchester Municipal College of Technology.

The archive includes an extensive series of files created by the Principal's Office (TPA/1) and the Principal's appointment diaries (TPA/2). The Principal's files are one of the key sources of information for the history of the institution, reflecting not only Principal's central role in the institution's policies and initiatives, but also because the files cover such a wide subject range. The files supplement the information found in governing body records, by providing background information on the development of policy at the highest levels and its impact within the information. Ultimately, the Principal's files are they source of information on the 'high politics' of the institution.

The Principal's Files within this catalogue form part of a larger series of records and mainly relate to the period of the Principalship of Vivian Bowden between 1953 and 1976 and his successors Robert Haszeldine (Principal 1976-1983) and Harold Hankins (Principal and Vice-Chancellor 1984-1995).

The Principal's archive is an essential source of information for the development of the institution. The archive contains valuable information relating to the expansion of the Institute including details of building programmes, the growth of departments, the introduction of new subjects and the appointment of new chairs. Other papers relate to funding sources and correspondence with the University Grants Committee (UGC), quinquennial submissions, the role of the Students' Union, details of student admissions, expansion of research work and collaboration with industry. As the contents of these records relate to high-level decision-making processes on key issues, they provide unique insight into the political and administrative contexts of policy-making within the institution.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Principal's Archive contains detailed information about the various activities undertaken by the Principal's office of UMIST and its predecessor institutions and provides a record of the changes, developments and expansion that took place between the 1950s and 1970s.

The Principal was the senior executive officer of the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, Manchester College of Science and Technology and UMIST in its various guises. From 1994, when UMIST became a functionally independent university, the office became that of Principal and Vice-Chancellor, with the office-holder generally being referred to as vice-chancellor. The role of Principal is described in the particulars of appointment in 1953 as being "responsible to the Governors for the organisation, administration, and development of the work of the College and for its educational efficiency and discipline. The Teaching Administration and works staff are under his direction". Until 1955-6, the Principal was an employee of Manchester City Council, and his primary duties were with this body. However, since 1905, the College also operated as the Faculty of Technology of the University of Manchester to provide university-level education in technological subjects. In this capacity, the Principal was also dean of the Faculty of Technology, and an ex officio member of the University Senate.

The role of the Principal changed significantly after the Manchester College of Science and Technology received its charter on 29 July 1955, gaining independent status as a university college separately funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC). On 1 August 1956, Manchester Corporation transferred all assets to the new College which assumed responsibility for all matters relating to its predecessor, the Manchester Municipal College of Technology. These changes meant that the College had significant autonomy over its development (although still tied constitutionally to the University of Manchester). The Principal became a key figure in providing strategic direction to the institution in a period of expansion and innovation. A new administrative framework was established with elected representatives from the Court of Governors and from the Council which was the executive body responsible for the management of College affairs. An Academic Board was responsible for academic governance issues which fell outside the purview of the University Senate and Faculty of Technology (including the non-university courses, which the College continued to offer until the mid-1960s).

Vivian Bowden was appointed as the first Principal of the Manchester College of Science and Technology on 1 August 1956. Bowden had been the Principal of the former Manchester Municipal College of Technology from 1953 and was closely involved in the preparatory work leading to the granting of the Charter. Under his direction, the institution underwent a period of rapid expansion, and its was his visionary conception of a technological university which greatly influenced the shape of the institution's development until the mid-1970s. In 1966 the College was renamed the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), when all non-university work ceased.

Under the Royal Charter, funding was granted through the submission of quinquennial plans to the UGC, containing yearly departmental estimates of expenditure over a five year period. The submissions provided details of estimates of expenditure, proposals for building programmes, development of departments and the introduction of new subjects. Grants were no longer received from the Ministry of Education although other sources of finance were available including a grant from Manchester Corporation towards the University work of the College. Direct UGC funding allowed UMIST to expand its curriculum and the physical infrastructure required to support it. However, there was also an awareness of the need to raise funds privately from business and industry, possibly attracted by UMIST's research and teaching interests in applied technology. Industrial companies continued to support the College with the provision of grants and equipment and funding of scholarships and prizes.

Following the granting of the Charter it became apparent that both the Ministry of Education and the UGC did not support the future retention of non-university courses. Initially the part-time courses below advanced level were gradually transferred to local colleges such as the new Irwell College of Further Education. In the late 1950s full time courses leading to Ordinary and Higher National Diplomas in the Departments of Building and Structural Engineering were discontinued. By the end of the decade there was also an increasing trend to divest advanced courses which had been initially retained. For example, advanced part-time courses in municipal engineering, building, quantity surveying and structural engineering were relocated to the Salford Royal Technical College. By 1964 the majority of part-time courses had been transferred to the John Dalton College of Technology and it was proposed that the Department of Printing should be integrated into the College of Art and Design. The transition to UMIST in 1966 effectively marked the completion of this development.

One of the most obvious changes from 1956 was the physical expansion of the campus, as UGC capital funds were increased. Supported by Manchester Council, the College was able to buy up the mixed industrial and residential area to the south of the Main Building (much of this had been earmarked for slum clearance). Although some buildings, such as the Jackson St Mill, were adapted for new purposes, in most cases, the College built from scratch, and some characteristically modernist buildings were added to the campus. The Renold Building came into use in 1962, with lecture space for large audiences and external events. A new Civil Engineering building was in use by 1963 and the Students' Union building opened in 1966. Extensions to the Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering buildings were completed by 1966-67 and the new Chemistry building opened in 1968. Other departmental buildings to be completed included the Ferranti Electrical Engineering Building (1969), Maths and Social Sciences Building incorporating the Department of Computation (1970) and the Metallurgy Building (1975). The Planning Development Committee was established in 1956 and by the academic year of 1957-58 £2 million pounds had been committed and the College owned approximately 85% of the land and property in the development area. UMIST was also involved in the wider Manchester Education Precinct project, which involved various redevelopments in the area to the north of the University campus along Oxford Road (UMIST's involvement derived in part from a desire to develop shared services) A Joint Planning Committee was created the following year to consider the design of the proposed student quarter with plans for facilities for more than 20,000 students.

In the academic session of 1957-58 there was a substantial increase in undergraduate and postgraduate students and the total number of students in the Faculty was over 1,300. The following year it was necessary to limit the intake of students for the first time. The UGC requested that all universities including the College should plan for a larger student population than originally envisaged and the College's revised building programme estimated that the student population could reach 5,000 by the late 1970s. Due to the expansion of College activities additional grants were made available from the UGC to reflect the expanding student numbers and increased costs. There was also additional assistance from industry and financial support continued from Manchester Corporation. By the late 1960s the postgraduate school was claimed as the largest of its kind in Europe. By the mid-1970s, this expansionist mood declined, and universities faced instead an almost continuous demand for economies. As with the other Manchester institutions, the early 1980s proved difficult, and there was considerable and successful resistance to an idea that UMIST might merge with the financially-troubled University of Salford. To some extent, UMIST was insulated by its ability to get support from private business.

From the 1950s onwards, the institution had developed new areas of teaching and research. New degree courses in Combined Studies were introduced in the mid 1960s, for example combining Technology with European Studies or Management Sciences. There was increased collaboration with industry, and some lectures and laboratory work were undertaken by staff from the industrial sector. By the late 1960s the Institute had one of the largest departments of Chemical Engineering in Europe and one of the largest departments of Chemistry in the United Kingdom. There was substantial growth in the departments of Building, Textile Chemistry, Paper Making, Management Sciences, Machine Tools, Control Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

An important policy of the College was to expand research into scientific problems through an increased emphasis on postgraduate study leading to closer collaboration with industry. In the late 1950s there was a substantial rise in the number of postgraduate students undertaking research work. In October 1963 the Robbins Report recommended that the College should become a Special Institute for Scientific and Technological Education and Research (SISTER), in addition to Imperial College and University of Strathclyde. This proposal was rejected by the Government the following year although a grant was made available to the three institutions named in the Report. Throughout the 1970s UMIST continued to explore the opportunities for collaborative research and, despite the inevitable impact of the economic situation on industry, attracted significant external funding in the form of research contracts and grants. The Research and Consultancy Service was established at the University in 1972 to strengthen links with external organisations and to assist staff undertaking consultancy work. The academic session of 1974-75 saw the highest value of contracts and research grants for a number of years

The Students' Union played a significant role in the increased involvement of students with academic affairs including involvement at departmental level. Students were represented on the majority of committees and this involvement increased in the latter part of the 1960s. A series of consultative committees of staff and students were set up in all departments and by 1969 students were invited to meetings of the Council and Academic Board. There was significantly less student protest at UMIST, compared to the University of Manchester.

From 1971 the work of Bowden was supported by the appointment of three vice-principals. Professor Cruickshank was responsible for financial affairs and acted as Deputy Principal, Professor Benson became Chair of the Academic Development Committee, and Professor Rhoderick became responsible for Student Affairs (the role of vice-principal was comparable to that of a pro-vice chancellor). The need for these appointments reflected the increased complexity and scale of the duties involved and the move to a more strategic role for the Principal. Bowden retired in 1976, and was succeeded by Professor Robert Haszeldine, former Chair of Chemistry at UMIST. After Hazseldine's resignation, in 1980, Professor Harold Hankins, a member of the UMIST department of electrical engineering and electronics became acting Principal, and was confirmed in this post. Following further constitutional changes in 1994 (which included the abolition of the faculty of Technology), Professor Hankins became the first principal and vice-chancellor of UMIST. The office was discontinued on the formation of The University of Manchester in 2004.


The Principal's Files (TPA/1) are mainly arranged in chronological order and form part of a larger series of records.

The collection is arranged into the following series:

  • TPA/1 - Principal's Files
  • TPA/2 - Appointment Diaries

Conditions Governing Access

Records in the archive are open unless otherwise stated. However, restrictions apply to a number of files and parts of files in this collection. Review of materials may be required before access is granted. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals..

Acquisition Information

The archive was transferred from former UMIST administrative offices to the University Archives between 2004-2007.

Archivist's Note

The Principal's Files (TPA/1) described in this catalogue form part of a larger series of records. This material is currently uncatalogued, and includes some material from the pre-1950 period, and a significant amount of material from the post-1980 period. While the archive is comprehensive, it does appear that there are some gaps in coverage for certain periods, possibly indicating that some files have been lost or have not yet been uncovered.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

The archive is subject to standard appraisal procedures for University records.


Further accruals possible.

Related Material

The UMIST archives include records of the institution's governing bodies TGB, which may relate to material or issues described in these files. The uncatalogued UMIST Registrar's archive may well holds similar material. The personal papers of Lord Bowden (BVB) contain material relating to his more general conceptions of the technological university. The University of Manchester Vice-chancellor's archive (VCA) includes similar material to the Principal's archive; some of this is directly relevant, such as the vice-chancellor's files on UMIST, or files which relate to joint VUM and UMIST services, or subjects in which both institutions had interests. Where applicable, these files are cross-referenced in this catalogue.


Bowden, B.V., Proposals for the Development of the Manchester College of Science and Technology (Manchester: The Manchester College of Science and Technology, 1956)

Cardwell, D.S.L. (editor), Artisan to graduate (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974)

Geographical Names