Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Royal Polytechnic Institution

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of Regent Street, London

1838 Founded by Sir George Caley, George Henry Bachhoffner and others as a place of popular instruction in science. It opened with Henry Langdon Childe's "grand phantasmagoria" and thereafter became the most important venue for lantern shows/

1840 Advertised courses for the practical education of engine drivers[1]

1841 Richard Beard opened Europe's first public photographic studio at the Royal Polytechnic Institute.

1859 the company was reconstituted as a limited company. After this the influence and technical value of the institution rapidly waned.[2]

1880 The building and the exhibition had deteriorated badly so new management took over with promises of improvement including construction of a new theatre.

1881 William Mattieu Williams was manager of the Institution during its last 6 months of existence. By this time audiences had declined. The institution was in financial trouble and was put up for sale[3].

1882 Quintin Hogg purchased the lease and spent large sums on alterations. He retained the name Polytechnic but made it an institution under public management which provided artisan and lower-middle-class young men and women with instruction, recreation, and social opportunities as the Regent Street Polytechnic.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Dec 23, 1840
  2. The Engineer 1880/01/23
  3. The Times Nov 29, 1881
  • Various biographies on ODNB