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1876 A meeting of 16 of the City of London's livery companies led to the foundation of the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education (CGLI) in 1878.
The aim of the institute was to improve the training of craftsmen, engineering technicians, engineering technologists, and professional engineers. The two main objectives were to create a Central Institution in London and to conduct a system of qualifying examinations in technical subjects.
1879 As a stop gap, William E. Ayrton was employed to inaugurate a series of evening lectures at the Cowper Street Middle Class School in Finsbury (heart of the furniture making district of London), beginning with a lecture on "The improvement science can effect in our trades and the condition of our workmen"; Henry E. Armstrong began lecturing on "The First principles of Chemistry". This provided instruction in chemistry and physics to those who wished to continue their education after working during the day.
Recognising the level of interest in these lectures, Ayrton and Armstrong persuaded the City and Guilds to build a large building in the playground of the school in nearby Leonard Street; this became the Finsbury Technical College.
1882 John Perry was appointed professor of mechanical engineering
1883 the Finsbury Technical College was opened. The Institute's director at the time was Sir Philip Magnus, later University MP. Finsbury College was intended as the first of a number of 'feeder' colleges for the Central Institution, but was almost the only one founded.
1884 William Cawthorne Unwin was appointed professor of civil and mechanical engineering at the Central Institution.
1885 Unable to find a large enough site within the City of London for their Central Institution, the Companies were eventually persuaded by the Secretary of the Science and Art Department, General Sir John Donnelly (who was also a Royal Engineer) to found their institution on the 87 acre (350,000 m²) site in South Kensington alongside Exhibition Road bought by the 1851 Exhibition Commissioners (for GBP 342,500) for 'purposes of art and science' in perpetuity.
CGLI headquarters remained in Gresham College in the City. At the time John Watney was both secretary to the Gresham Committee and the CGLI.
The Central Technical College building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, better known as the architect of the Natural History Museum. Located on the same site adjacent to the Central Institute were the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Science.
Olaus Henrici was appointed professor of mathematics and economics.
1885-6 The first complete session of the Central Technical College had 35 students
1892-3 The total number of regular students attended the Central Technical College was 205
1900 Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria
1907 The Central Technical College was brought into the Imperial College of Science and Technology; the Central Technical College was renamed the City and Guilds College but not fully incorporated into Imperial College until 1910.
Although the City and Guilds College was, for much of its life, governed through Imperial College, the City and Guilds Institute, together with a number of livery companies in their own right, have maintained seats on the governing body (the Court) of Imperial College. The Institute also continues to award the Diploma of Associateship of the City & Guilds of London Institute (ACGI), first awarded to students of the Central Institution who joined the earliest 3-year full-time courses which started in February 1885, to engineering graduates.
In 2002, under Imperial College's new faculty structure, City & Guilds College, along with the other constituent colleges, ceased to exist as a separate entity.
In September 2013 the Mechanical and Aeronautical engineering building at Imperial College was renamed City and Guilds Building to acknowledge the historical legacy.