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Published: 19 September 2016

Battersea legacy celebrated with commemorative wall

More than 200 alumni and guests joined us for a day of celebration as we paid tribute to our predecessor institution, Battersea Polytechnic, the foundations on which Surrey is built.

In our 50th anniversary year, we also mark 125 years since Battersea was established and our Battersea Showcase event on 16 September marked the success of the Build our History project to create a lasting record of student life.

It was also one of the first events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Charter by her Majesty the Queen.

The response to our initial call for graduates to come forward with memories and memorabilia was overwhelming and we have been able to swell the archives considerably and record 80 oral histories for posterity, for which we received Heritage Lottery funding.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a Battersea timeline commemorative wall in the Austin Pearce foyer. This will be permanent reminder of our heritage, and starts with the founding of the Battersea Polytechnic Institute in 1891 through to Battersea College of Technology and the transition to Surrey in the 1960s.

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.

“I would like to give my heartfelt thanks for your contributions to this project which will preserve our rich history for many generations of staff and students to enjoy and learn from.”

Alumni were also able to walk down memory lane at a ‘museum area’ set up in Hillside Restaurant, exhibiting Battersea memorabilia and artefacts charting the institution’s history.

During the course of the Battersea Build our History project, we were delighted to receive many items which give a true picture of student life. These included exam papers, student magazines, scarves, music tickets, programmes, letters, posters and, of course, many many photographs. All very gratefully received.

Some of our alumni have volunteered in the archives department, arranging and sorting records and identifying photos and documents.

Chris Gethin, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said: “It was wonderful to see so many of our Battersea alumni and to hear their touching and humorous stories of their time as a student.

“It was 50 years ago that the University’s Royal Charter was signed and Battersea began its move to Guildford.  It is truly fantastic that half a century later, we have so many of our Battersea alumni joining us to celebrate Surrey’s golden anniversary

 “We would like to thank all our volunteers for their unique and wonderful stories and the artefacts they donated which capture Battersea’s essence and help bring history to life.”

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