Battersea network

We are very proud of our Battersea legacy and the many alumni who have helped shape the University of Surrey.

Celebrating our history

  • 1891

    Battersea Polytechnic opens

    The firm foundations on which the University of Surrey are built stretch back to the late 19th century, when Battersea Polytechnic opened its doors to 2,406 young men and women aged between 16 and 25.

    The Polytechnic specialised in science and technology subjects, and in later years its courses were validated by the University of London.

  • 1956/57

    College of advanced technology

    Its academic reputation steadily grew to the point in 1956 when it was one of the first colleges to be designated a ‘college of advanced technology’ and was renamed Battersea College of Technology in 1957.

  • 1962

    Moving to Guildford

    By 1962 the college had outgrown its Battersea site, and it was decided to move to a greenfield site in Guildford.

  • 1966

    Became the University of Surrey

    The college was granted a Royal Charter as the University of Surrey in September 1966 and the move to its new campus was completed in 1970.

Recognising our rich heritage

To formally recognise our rich heritage we have run a number of events and projects over the past few years. These pay tribute to our Battersea graduates and capture their stories and experiences to inspire future generations and connect current students to the history of their university.

Honorary degree ceremonies


We marked the 120th anniversary of Battersea with two honorary degree ceremonies in Guildford cathedral for a large number of Battersea graduates who received diplomas instead of degrees or who missed their original graduation ceremonies.

The ceremonies attracted former Battersea students spanning the 30-year period from 1941 to 1971. Some travelled from as far afield as Australia, Canada and South Africa to graduate, attend a reception and catch up with old friends.

Director of Development and Alumni Relations Chris Gethin said: “It was a day full of nostalgia. Old friends swapped stories and we are privileged to have been able to add to those memories by awarding them their honorary degrees. It was a truly unforgettable experience; we are very proud of what we have done and we are proud of the history of these graduates."

In our 50th anniversary year, we revealed the results of our Build our History initiative to create a lasting record of student life at Battersea. It was supported through a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a legacy bequest.

Battersea graduates were asked to donate personal artefacts, take part in an oral history project to record their personal memories, and volunteer in the University’s archives department. The response was overwhelming and Surrey has been able to swell its archives considerably and record 80 oral histories for posterity.

The highlight of the project was the unveiling of a Battersea timeline commemorative wall. This will be a permanent reminder of the University’s heritage. Vice-Chancellor Professor G Q Max Lu said: “I think it is very fitting and meaningful for us to pay tribute to our Battersea heritage in such a way, as it is part of the University of Surrey’s enduring and valuable legacy.”

Please take a look at our timeline (PDF) to learn more about Battersea’s history.

Your memories

We always love to hear our former staff and students' favourite memories of their time at Battersea.

From sport to social activities, graduation to accommodation, read a few recollections from our alumni below.

Battersea photos

Alongside our photos of life at Battersea, we also have a gallery of pictures taken at Battersea events. You can view a wide selection of our Battersea historical and reunion photos on our Flickr albums below:

Get in touch

If you would like to share your memories and photographs or would like more information on any of our Battersea activities, please contact us at or telephone +44 (0)1483 683143.