The origins of the university can be traced back to 1862 with the foundation of the Hartley Institution. The institution was built on the lower High Street after Henry Robinson Hartley left money and property in his will for the establishment of a cultural centre. The institution was opened by the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, in 1862(image 1). Although it is likely that Hartley intended the facility to be a museum and cultural centre rather than a teaching establishment, his will was sufficiently vaguely worded to give those who wished to see a college established a chance to interpret it in their favour. The result was years of controversy between the rival factions.

In fact, a very small teaching element was present from the start and this was developed and enlarged over the years. It was helped by the Corporation, which in 1889 gave a grant for the provision of technical education. Soon after, the name Hartley College was adopted and a teacher training school was established. In 1902 the Institution developed into the Hartley University College with degrees awarded by the University of London. The High Street premises were now becoming extremely cramped and inadequate, and in 1914 land was acquired in Highfield and new buildings were erected there.

The outbreak of World War One delayed the move to Highfield until 1919; the new buildings were used as a hospital during the war. The college continued to develop and in 1952 it achieved full university status.

1. Hartley Institutions

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A contemporary engraving showing Lord Palmerston arriving to open the Institution.

2. University of Southampton

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The university campus today.

See also

Further reading:

Hartleyana, by A. Anderson. (HS/ls)
The University of Southampton, by A. Temple Patterson. (HS/ls)
Survey of Southampton and its Region, by F. J. Monkhouse (ed), p334-338. (HS/o)


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