press release
Published: 15 January 2015

University wins £10,000 heritage grant to remember its history

The University of Surrey has been awarded a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to capture what student life was like for the graduates of Battersea College of Technology, which later evolved to become the University of Surrey.

As the University approaches its fiftieth year in Guildford, the alumni and archives departments will use the ‘Sharing Heritage’ grant to fund its new project, Remembering Battersea: Help us build our history.

The University’s roots go back to The Battersea Polytechnic Institute, which was founded in 1891 in Battersea Park Road, London. It later became Battersea College of Advanced Technology before the Robbins Report proposed that it should become a university and award its own degrees. Land was acquired from Guildford Cathedral, Guildford Borough Council and the Onslow Village Trust and, in September 1966, the Grant of Charter formally established the University of Surrey, based at its new home on Stag Hill.

Chris Gethin, Director of Development & Alumni Relations at the University of Surrey, said: “The University of Surrey dates back 120 years, when it began its life as Battersea Polytechnic. In that time, thousands upon thousands of students have passed through its doors, contributing to the University’s rich history and success.

“To celebrate this legacy, and the foundations on which Surrey is built, this heritage project will create a comprehensive and lasting record of life as a student at Battersea. We want to ensure the stories and memories live on to inspire future generations, and connect current students to the history of their University. We would like to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund for its generous support.”

Participants are being asked to donate personal artefacts which capture their student days at Battersea, take part in an oral history project, which will involve recording their personal memories, and volunteer in the University’s archives department.

Mike Banfield studied chemical and process engineering and graduated from Battersea in 1958. He said: “Battersea Park was adjacent to the Poly. It had quite a large lake and boats were available for hire there. And so every year there would be a ‘head of the lake’ competition - teams from different departments would hire boats and the idea was to be the last boat floating with people in it.  Some adventurous lads would get two boats and tie them together as a catamaran to give them extra stability.  It was quite easy once you were in the water to turn one of these boats over because they were just shells of some sort.  It’s amazing we didn’t all get tetanus or some form of typhoid, but it was great fun.”

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