The Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1895 provided for a technical institute for the east of the City of London, to be managed by a committee of the Board of Governors of the Sir John Cass's Foundation. Sir John Cass (1661-1718) was an Alderman of the Ward of Portsoken (1710-1718) and the revenue from the charitable trust he endowed enabled the governors of the Foundation to support two technical institutes in Aldgate and Hackney.
Classes began in January 1902 and the Institute's building in Jewry Street, Aldgate (shared with the Cass School till 1908) was formally opened in June of that year. Courses covered aspects of Science, Arts and Crafts, Commerce, together with practical tailoring and cutting for the boys and Domestic economy for the girls, including Cooking, Laundry work and dressmaking.
Day and evening classes were offered on both a full-time and part-time basis, and fees were reduced for ex-pupils of the Cass School. A Nautical School was established in 1927 for seagoing apprentices and navigating officers preparing for Board of Trade examinations.
Between the wars saw a rapid improvement in advanced and postgraduate work and the introduction of courses for external University of London degrees. During WWII, only evening courses were run and this allowed staff to carry out research during the day.
The Institute's School of Art - originally housed within an impressive and ornate building at the southern end of Minories(torn down in the 1970s) but later transferred to Central House on Whitechapel High Street - gained national reputation for its work in Silversmithing, Jewellery and Allied Crafts. The main building on Jewry Street was extended in 1934 and the Institute's name was changed in 1950 to the Sir John Cass College in recognition of the broadening provision of courses, some of which were entirely of University standard.
In 1970, the Sir John Cass College merged with the City of London College to form the City of London Polytechnic.