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History of Imperial College London

Imperial College London is a science-based university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research.

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines.

Located in the heart of London, Imperial is a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges.



1823: Charing Cross Hospital and Medical School
The hospital opened in 1823 and in 1827 was named Charing Cross Hospital. New Medical School facilities opened in 1834.

1834: Opening of Westminster Hospital Medical School

1845: Creation of the Royal College of Chemistry

1851: Creation of the Royal School of Mines

1854: St Mary's Hospital Medical School established

1881: Creation of the Royal College of Science

1884: Creation of City and Guilds College

1893: The Imperial Institute opened
The Imperial Institute was created in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee with the intention of it being a scientific research institution exploring and developing the raw materials of the Empire countries. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1888 and opened the building in 1893.


1907 - Signing of the Charter forming Imperial College:
The final Report of the Board of Education Committee was published in January 1906, recommending combining the Royal College of Science, the Royal School of Mines and the City & Guilds College into one institution. Negotiations on detail amongst the governing bodies of the institutions continued and in February 1907, the Board of Education issued a letter outlining its deliberations. A list of members of the Governing Body was issued on 1 July and the charter forming Imperial College, was granted on 8 July.

1947 - Acquisition of Silwood Park Campus:
Imperial College acquired Silwood Park in 1947, as a Field Station to provide a site for research and teaching in those aspects of Biology not well suited for the main London campus.

1950 - Inception of expansion scheme:
On 29th January 1950, the government announced in the Commons that it was intended that Imperial College should expand to meet the scientific and technological challenges of the 20th century. As a result, the Rector, Sir Roderic Hill, launched the Jubilee Expansion Scheme. The expansion had to include both technology and science; plans for innovations such as computing were made, General Studies, Management Studies and History for Science and technology were all new subjects to be added to the curriculum.

1959 - Biochemistry Department:
The Wolfson Foundation gave £350,000 for a new Biochemistry Department, with Sir Ernst Chain as its first Professor.

1963 - Department of History of Science and technology opened

1969 - Demolition of the Imperial Institute and completion of Queen's Tower:
Following the move of the Imperial Institute to the Commonwealth Institute, it became clear that the Institute building was no longer suitable for its original purpose of being a "scientific research institution exploring and developing the raw materials of the Empire countries". It was not adaptable to the College requirements for mid 20th century science and technology. It was agreed that the building should be demolished to enable the expansion of Imperial College and the building of modern laboratories, under the auspices of the governments plan for development of science and technology in higher education.

1971: Department of Management Science created

1972: Associated Studies Department created

1978: Department of Social And Economic Studies founded

1980: Humanities Department opened
The Humanities Department was formed from the Associated Studies and History of Science

1980: Joint course with Royal College of Art in Engineering Design established
The Department of Mechanical Engineering launched collaboration with the Royal College of Art Industrial Engineering School.

1988: Imperial merges with St Mary's Hospital Medical School
In 1988, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine was formed through the merger of the College with St Mary's Hospital Medical School.

1995: Merger with the National Heart & Lung Institute at Royal Brompton
The National Heart and Lung Institute's merger with Imperial in 1995 makes it one of the founding divisions of what later became the School of Medicine. It now carries out pioneering research on all aspects of heart, lung cardiovascular disease, with increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary work in the areas of biomedicine, biophysics and bioengineering

1997: Imperial College School of Medicine formed
In 1997 the Imperial College School of Medicine was formed, the product of a series of mergers with leading London medical schools. It is now one of Europe's largest medical institutions, with over 1,500 postgraduates in the Graduate School of Life Sciences and Medicine and more than 300 new medical undergraduates admitted each year.


2000: Merger with Wye College

2003: Imperial faculty structure established
Imperial adopts a Faculty structure, establishing the new Faculties of Engineering, Medicine, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences (the latter two merging to form the Faculty of Natural Sciences in 2005) alongside the Tanaka Business School.

2006: Decision to withdraw from University of London
Imperial College London was a college of the University of London from 1908, awarding University of London degrees. Recognising Imperial College as a world-class research and teaching institution in its own right, on 14 July 2006.
Imperial College's Council made the decision that Imperial should withdraw from the University of London and become a university, independent from any other organisation or structure. Imperial College's request to withdraw was agreed by the University of London's Council on 4 October 2006.

1 October 2007: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed
The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was created by merging St Mary’s NHS Trust and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust. Through integrating the Trust with the College, the UK’s first Academic Health Science Centre was formed.

2007: Grantham Institute for Climate Change established

2007: Imperial celebrates its centenary

2007: Independence from the University of London

2008: Business School renamed
The name of the College’s business school was changed from Tanaka Business School to Imperial College Business School to emphasise that it is an integral part of the College.

2008: RAE results
In 2008 Imperial College London was named home to the greatest concentration of research rated world-leading and internationally excellent amongst all UK universities, according to Research Assessment Exercise (RAE08) results.

2009: Wye Campus Closed
Following a decline in students studying agricultural-related courses the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Wye closed in 2004, with all academic activity ending in 2009.

September 2009: College purchases land in White City
Imperial College London purchased the Woodlands site in White City from the BBC for £28 million, and started planning towards the development of a new campus there, subsequently known as White City Campus.

March 2010: Opening of the Wohl Reach Out
Imperial expanded its public engagement and outreach activities with the creation of the Wohl Reach Out lab, a state-of-the-art laboratory established to raise the aspirations and scientific literacy of young people of all abilities from a diversity of backgrounds.

April 2012: College unveils new leadership structure
The College adopted a new leadership arrangement separating the responsibilities of the Rector between a President and the new role of Provost.

June 2013: Expansion of Imperial West
Imperial purchased 11.5 acres in White City to expand its new campus, White City Campus, taking the College’s total landholding for its new campus to approximately 25 acres.

August 2013: First students enrol at the LKCMedicine
The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) in Singapore, a joint initiative between Imperial and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), admitted its first cohort of students in August 2013. The 54 new students, who started a five year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in August 2013, will graduate with a joint degree awarded by both institutions.
It is the first degree course from Imperial to have been developed and delivered overseas.

December 2014: REF results
The College celebrated its best ever performance in a research assessment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 found that 91% of Imperial research was judged as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (4* and 3*) - the highest proportion of any major university. The College was also shown to have the UK’s greatest concentration of high-impact research.

March 2015: Dyson School of Design Engineering
The Dyson School of Design Engineering was created through a £12 million donation from the James Dyson Foundation, which was established by inventor and industrial designer Sir James Dyson.

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