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The history of KU in photos

By Jamelia S Brown Dec 7, 2021
Lecturers walking down high streetKingston University inauguration, 1992. Credit: Kingston University.

As 2021 draws to an end and the second academic term is fast approaching, we can reflect on the year that KU has had.

Welcoming students back to campus after a year of online learning due to the pandemic and the long-awaited opening of Town House, which recently won a Stirling prize, have been 2021’s highlights.

But have you ever considered what the university’s past achievements and memorable moments have been? Looking through old photo archives, we have compiled some images of KU throughout the decades to document the best moments and changes that the university has experienced.

Ex Kingston mayor standing next to a guest.
Guests at a KU event, including Kingston mayor Shiraz Mirza on the left, 2000. Credit: Kingston University.

Former mayor, Shiraz Mizra, was a frequent visitor of KU. He was elected in 2000 and was Kingston-upon-Thames’ first Asian mayor. In 2003 he opened The Shiraz Mizra community centre in New Malden, intended to be used as a space for the borough’s diverse community to use for different activities and still in use.

Kingston Hill library in 1982
Kingston Hill library, 1982. Credit: Kingston University.

This is what Kingston Hill library looked like in 1982, completely different to the modern version you can see on campus today. In 2008, the library was updated and renamed the Nightingale Centre after Florence Nightingale who was a frequent visitor of Kingston Hill.

Due to the surrounding area being a conservation site since 2004, there was care to make sure the materials that were used to construct the new library were sustainable. Additionally, the public were involved and considered during the planning process. 

Student halls of residence bedroom in 1983
An example of a newly converted student room at Gipsy Hill, 1983. Credit: Kingston University

This is an average room in a hall of residence in 1983 at Kingston Hill, previously named Gipsy Hill campus. There were 30 bedrooms that were converted from an exisiting residential building ready for students completing a Masters degree in Information Design Systems.

Four guests standing next to a plaque commemorating the opening of Town House in 1986.
The opening of Town House at Penryhn Road, 1986. Credit: Kingston University.

The plaque commemorates the opening of KU’s Town House on March 20 1986, which was recently rebuilt, winning a RIBA Stirling prize in October 2021. Guests at the opening included (left to right) Reg Bailey, Chairman polytechnic governing body; Dr Robert Smith, Director of Kingston polytechnic; John Bowis, Chairman of the education committee; Dominic McCartan, President of the students’ union. 

David Miles and a guest standing next to a information sign at Kingston polytechnic.
Kingston polytechnic, Penrhyn Road campus, 1980’s-early 1990’s. Credit: Kingston University.

David Miles (right) was a dean of the faculty of business and social science between 1983 to 1999 and then became Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university in 1999 until 2007.

Before becoming Kingston University in 1992, Kingston Polytechnic was still located on Penryhn Road. The name of the buildings such as Town House and Sopwith Building are still the same today. 

Academics walking down a busy road
Kingston University inauguration, 1992. Credit: Kingston University.

New academics walk through Kingston High Street towards Market Place after being inaugurated in 1992.

Sir William Barlow with three other men infront of Roehampton Vale campus
Roehampton Vale campus opening, 1993. Credit: Kingston University.

Sir William Barlow, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering 1991 to 1996, officially opened KU’s Roehampton Vale campus on October 22 1993. 

Woman sat behind a library lending desk, passing a book to a student.
Kingston Hill library, 1980s-1990s. Credit: Kingston University.

Librarian, Lana Wright, is sat behind the lending desk of the Kingston Hill campus’ library helping a student borrow a book in the 1980s. Nowadays the self-service machines and book drop boxes replace this interaction as well as the online library catalogue.

three students outside Seething Wells  halls in 1995.
KU students at Seething Wells halls of residence, 1995. Credit: Kingston University

Seething Wells was transformed into halls of residence in the 1990s and this photo decipts the freshly renovated accomodation in 1995. The halls were recently refurbished in September 2021 to give them a modern touch. 

five students sitting on the grass
Bosnian students visit Kingston University. Credit: Kingston University.

Bosnian students who came to KU for an exhange enjoy the greenery at the polytechnic at Penryn Road campus in 1995.

student wearing goggles is gas welding
A student gas welding at KU, 1950. Credit: Kingston University.

A marine engineering student is gas welding in a labratory at Kingston technical college in 1950, which is now known as KU’s Penryhn Road campus.

five students on a structure in a field
Students at Gipsy Hill campus, 1950. Credit: Kingston University.

At Gipsy Hill teacher training college, now known as Kingston Hill, students enjoy leisure time on Kenry playing field. 

By Jamelia S Brown

She/Her Third-year journalism student at Kingston University I like to write about sustainability, social issues, feminism and pop culture.

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