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Report - Runnymede campus (Brunel) - Surrey - January 2014


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A Public Works Department was created in India in 1854, with responsibility for the construction of roads, canals and other civil engineering projects. It experienced difficulties in recruiting suitably qualified staff from the United Kingdom, and in 1868 a scheme was proposed for a dedicated training college in England. The chief advocate of this scheme, and effective founder of the College, was Sir George Tomkyns Chesney. The India Office bought the Cooper's Hill estate for £55,000 in 1870; and the College was formally opened on 5 August 1872, with Chesney as its first President and what became the Royal Indian Engineering collage.

The College educated about 50 students a year, who paid fees of £150 each. The curriculum included pure and applied mathematics, construction, architectural design, surveying, mechanical drawing, geometry, physics, geology, accounts, Hindustani, and the history and geography of India.

By the late 1870s the College was training more civil engineers than were required in India; but, rather than scaling down its activities, Chesney broadened them. From 1878, the College began to train candidates for the Indian Telegraph Department. From 1881, it began to train candidates for non-Indian services, such as the Royal Engineers, the Egyptian Government, and the Uganda Railway. In 1885, the first forestry school in England was established at Cooper's Hill, with William Schlich as the founding director.

In the face of competition from new training facilities for engineers elsewhere (notably at the new "redbrick" universities), the College closed on 13 October 1906.

The principal building at Cooper's Hill was a mansion house erected in c.1865 for the unprincipled company promoter, Baron Albert Grant, to a semi-Gothic design by F. & H. Francis. The conversion of the house for educational use, the design of the interiors, and the addition of a new south wing (including a chapel) were undertaken by the architect Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt.

The College is mentioned by Rudyard Kipling in his novel Stalky & Co.

After the College moved out in 1906, the buildings stood empty until bought in 1911 by Baroness Cheylesmore for use as a private home.

Later, the site became Shoreditch College of Education, a teacher's college specializing in handicraft education, and finally the Runnymede Campus of Brunel University until 2007.

Had the day to kill before i met up with SJP later that evening for some London antics so swung by here, perhaps not the most inspiring place but there's no other reports on here that i know about besides something in leads in rumours. Unfortunately the two parts of the site i'd of liked to get into were locked up. But alas, had a nice little mooch around the site and has have had previously mentioned, while leaving and deciding to have a quick chat with security both myself and elliot ended up with coconuts that he gave us. Nice guy.
















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Hah, 'Gay Ray' being Ray Stroud no doubt. So sad to see it all falling to ruin, such fond memories studying there. It was like no other uni, we actually had to work hard.

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