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VIPs meet and put on their gowns in The Guildhall
VIPs meet and put on their gowns in The Guildhall
Processing to the Abbey
Processing to the Abbey
Reverend Professor Bernard Silverman FRS gives his sermon
Reverend Professor Bernard Silverman FRS gives his sermon
The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor
The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor
The Bishop of Bath & Wells gives the Blessing
The Bishop of Bath & Wells gives the Blessing

Press Release - 26 October 2006

The University of Bath celebrates its 40th anniversary

The University of Bath celebrated its 40th anniversary with a Commemoration Service at Bath Abbey yesterday.

The service was attended by 130 guests and 90 academics, who processed from the Guildhall to the Abbey, presided over by the Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat.

After the service a celebration dinner took place and with guests including the astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, 92, who was given an Honorary Doctorate in Science by the University in 1967.

During the service, the congregation, who included the Mayor of Bath and the Chairman of B&NES, heard a sermon by the Reverend Professor Bernard Silverman FRS.

Professor Silverman said he had first come to the University as a lecturer in statistics in the 1970s and remained grateful for the opportunities the University had given him.

He praised the third Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Matthews, for his “real academic vision for this University” and Professor Rodney Quayle, the fourth Vice-Chancellor, “who brought not just intelligence but vulnerability and humanity” to his role.

“Overall, what a good university does is provide a framework for an enormous number of small individual and group efforts over a long period of time – decades or centuries – and then it brings them together into something much larger than the sum of the parts,” he said.

“It’s very easy as academics, students or administrators to be preoccupied with our own concerns. This occasion is a chance to step back and realise there are very few institutions that have the kind of long-lasting, broad-based effects that universities do.”

He said that in the 1970s there were many staff at the University who had come from its predecessor, the Bristol College of Science and Technology. “Many were not active in research and were happy to take on higher teaching loads so that the bright young things could get on with their own research. Because we were smaller, there was a real sense of community.

“The fact that so many who joined at the same time as me stayed the course speaks volumes for the success of the vision here at Bath.

“The 40th anniversary is a very interesting point where the whole of the place can be considered in the memory of a single working life. During that time the University of Bath has grown and changed out of all recognition since the act of faith that the founders made.” Since then, thousands of students had passed through and the University had taken part in transforming the city of Bath, he said.

“It’s a real centre for world class research in very many areas and has eclipsed many of the established universities, and its future is bright.”

He said that though individuals from the first 40 years might not be remembered in a century’s time, they would live on in future generations because of the work in making the University a success.

The service heard a reading from the University Charter by the Chancellor, and from Ecclesiasticus by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, and from Philippians by the President of the Student’s’ Union, Paul Jaggers. The opening prayer was read by the University Chaplain, The Revered Angela Berners-Wilson, and the blessing was given by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Right Reverend Peter Price.

Also attending were:

The music for the service was provided by the University's Chamber Choir, directed by Dr Michael Painting. Pieces included works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Peter Aston and Herbert Howells. Dr Peter King, Director of Music at the Abbey, played the organ.

Immediately following the commemoration service, a group of Bath-based bellringers rang a celebratory quarter peal of Grandsire Triples on the Abbey bells for almost an hour. The eight group members included two current students (one undergraduate, one postgraduate researcher), two recent graduates and a member of staff.

As well as the service, the University has published a brief history of its 40 years since 1966 and launched a website. A 40th anniversary booklet has also been issued giving details of the University’s development since 1966.

The University would like to hear the memories of people who were involved in the early days on campus, many of whom have remained in the area. Those who want to pass these on can do so by clicking the Send your Memories link on the site or email

Marketing & Communications, or call Claire Hornshaw, Publications and Press Officer on 01225 386319.

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: