Our University's history

John Ruskin

John Ruskin and our heritage

In 1858, John Ruskin officially opened a School of Art in Sidney Street, Cambridge by delivering the inaugural address. The institution grew to become the modern Anglia Ruskin University. Nearly 155 years later, the School of Art still forms part of our University, now much expanded beyond its original confines with another major campus in Chelmsford and a number of developing partnerships with colleges throughout the eastern region and the world.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) was, without question, the leading art critic of the 19th century. But he was far more than that. He was passionately concerned with social reform, as well as the relationship between human beings and society, nature, architecture, craftsmanship and ideas.

In a very real sense, Ruskin's ideas continue to shape our society, providing the social philosophical underpinnings for such features as free schools, free hospitals, a minimum wage and care for the elderly. One of Ruskin's best known works 'Unto This Last' (1860-62) has been described as a book which changed history, inspiring the minds of politicians, philosophers and authors, including such luminaries as Gandhi, Tolstoy, Proust and Oscar Wilde.

From 1858 to present

Since its foundation our University has grown to become the institution it is today, educating around 30,000 students in the UK and abroad; delivering courses that provide relevant word-based skills; developing state-of-the-art teaching and learning environments; and embarking on world-leading research.

Below are some of the most notable events in our history.

  • Work finished on the Lord Ashcroft Building, located on our Cambridge campus. Notable features include a 400-seat lecture theatre, a Harvard-style lecture theatre, a large open-access computer area, café and roof terrace seating.
  • Work finished on the Postgraduate Medical Institute Building, located on our Chelmsford campus. The building acts as a hub for multi-disciplinary medical training and research and development. It features state-of-the-art laboratories and a 400-seat lecture theatre video-linked to the operating theatres of our hospital partners.
  • The ICENI Centre, Colchester was officially opened by Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health. The Centre, a joint venture between Anglia Ruskin University and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, acts as a training, research and development centre for laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
  • Work began on a major redevelopment of our Cambridge campus. Scheduled for completion in summer 2011 the new Lord Ashcroft International Business School was designed to link our existing buildings and provide updated facilities and social spaces for staff, students and visitors.
  • We celebrated our 150th Anniversary with a wealth of events throughout the year. The celebrations marked our foundation as the Cambridge School of Art, opened by John Ruskin in October 1858.
  • Work finished on the Marconi building, housing our Faculties of Science & Technology and Arts, Law & Social Sciences.
  • The new entrance area of the Chelmsford Library was opened.
  • The Privy Council approved our name change to Anglia Ruskin University, chosen from over 200 suggestions from consultations with staff, students and the local community.
  • Work finished on the Mildmay Sports Hall, and the Tindal Building to house Student Services on our Chelmsford campus.
  • David Tidmarsh succeeded Mike Malone-Lee as Vice-Chancellor of our University, joining from the University of Central England.
  • The Ashcroft International Business School was moved into the completed Ashcroft Building, opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex.
  • Work commenced on the Opus One project at Cambridge.
  • Work began on the construction of the Michael A. Ashcroft Building to house the Ashcroft International Business School.
  • The School of Education was moved from Brentwood into purpose-built accommodation on the Chelmsford campus.
  • Michael Malone-Lee succeeded Mike Salmon as Vice-Chancellor of our University.
  • Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the Queen's Building on the Chelmsford campus.
  • Work commenced on the Rivermead campus in Chelmsford.
  • The Privy Council awarded University status, thus forming Anglia Polytechnic University (APU).
  • Anglia Higher Education College was granted Polytechnic status, becoming Anglia Polytechnic.
  • The Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology and the Essex Institute of Higher Education became statutory corporations and merged to become Anglia Higher Education College (AHEC).
  • The Chelmer Institute became the Essex Institute of Higher Education.
  • The Mid-Essex Technical College and Brentwood College of Education merged to form the Chelmer Institute of Higher Education.
  • The Cambridgeshire Technical College and School of Art became the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT).
  • The Mid-Essex Technical College and School of Art was established.
  • New buildings were developed on the Victoria Road South site, Chelmsford.
  • The Cambridge and County School of Arts, Crafts and Technology opened in Collier Road, Cambridge.
  • Lord Rayleigh laid the foundation stone in Market Road, Chelmsford for the first purpose built further education buildings in Chelmsford.
  • Mr H Baskett held adult further education classes for 50 students in Crane Court, Chelmsford.
  • The Institute for Technical Education was built in East Road, Cambridge.
  • The School of Art was moved to Guildhall, Cambridge.
  • John Ruskin opened a School of Art in Sidney Street, Cambridge.
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