Origins

The University of Bath was granted university status in 1966 by Royal Charter.

Our roots can be traced back to the Bristol Trade School - a technical school established in 1856. In 1885, the school was renamed the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College and in 1929 the Bath School of Pharmacy became part of the college.

By 1960, the college had become the Bristol College of Science and Technology and, following the Robbins Report of 1963, which recommended the immediate expansion of universities, began to look at gaining university status.

With the college rapidly expanding and no suitable site available in Bristol, a chance conversation between the college principal and the Director of Education in Bath led to an agreement to provide the college with a new home in Claverton Down, Bath.

The first building on campus was completed in 1965 (becoming the building now known as 4 South), just a year before the Royal Charter was granted.

Founders day

Each spring we host Founders Day, an event to celebrate our past, present and future as a University. The event takes place on the annual presentation of our peppercorn rent to Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The ceremony dates back to the mid-1960s when the then Bath City Council agreed to allow some of its land to be used as a site for the new University campus.

Today the event combines a meeting of the University Court, public lectures and exhibitions and a dinner with guests including local councillors, long-serving staff, current and former Students' Union officers, and members of the Court and Council.

Our motto

The University motto is: generatim discite cultus.

The motto comes from The Georgics by Virgil, Book II, line 35, in a section where Virgil is talking about understanding the nature of an organism in order to ensure it thrives.

As translated by H.R. Fairclough for Loeb Classical Library (first published in 1916 by Harvard University Press): Learn the culture proper to each after its kind.

As translated by Kimberly Johnson for Penguin Classics (published in 2009): Learn husbandry specific to each species.

In her 50th Anniversary speech, the President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell commented that the motto instructs us to "achieve an understanding of our world and strive to use our knowledge to ensure a sustainable future".

Our Coat of Arms

The University of Bath Coat of Arms

The University Coat of Arms features our motto as well as the Gorgon’s head, on which we have based our current logo.

The Gorgon’s head is based on a Roman sculpture found in Bath during the 1790s. It was discovered during the digging of foundations for the Roman Baths. It was part of a great ornamental pediment that sat over the entrance to the temple where the statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva was housed.

Former Chancellors

Lord Tugendhat, Chancellor 1998-2013

Christopher Tugendhat is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs and was Chairman of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust until December 2011. He is a former Chairman of Abbey National plc and of Blue Circle Industries plc. He began life as a journalist with The Financial Times and is the author of several books.

Sir Denys Henderson, Chancellor 1992-1998

Denys Henderson graduated in Arts and Law from the University of Aberdeen in 1955, before training as a solicitor and serving as a captain in the directorate of army legal services during his National Service. He joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) as a lawyer before eventually becoming Chairman in 1987. He was knighted in 1989 and received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the University in 1993. Sir Denys died 21 May 2016. Read his obituary in the Telegraph.

Baron Kearton, Chancellor 1980-1992

Frank Kearton began his career as a chemical process worker at ICI in 1933. As a young chemical engineer he was recruited into Britain’s wartime Atomic Energy Project, and in 1945 received one of the few OBEs awarded to civilians during the conflict. By 1964, he had risen to the post of Chairman of Courtaulds. In 1966, he was knighted and awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) at the University of Bath.

Baron Hinton, Chancellor 1966-1979

Christopher Hinton began his career at Brunner Mond & Co (later part of ICI), where he became Chief Engineer at the age of 29. In his distinguished industrial career he became the first chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1957. He had previously served as Deputy Controller of Production for the Atomic Energy Agency in 1946 and in 1954.

Archives

Our archival collections of historic interest are housed in the University Library. They include collections of documents and objects that tell the story of our origins and development.