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Main Entrance, Chelsea College, Manresa RoadMain Entrance, Chelsea College, Manresa RoadFrom the foundation of South-Western Polytechnic in 1895, there was a considerable focus on practical education, with classes in Art, Domestic Science, Music, and Physical Training proving particularly popular.

Original departments in existence from the inception of the College included Mathematics, Physics, Natural Science and Engineering, whilst from 1908 instruction was also available in Chemistry and Metallurgy, Languages and Commerce.

From 1919, it became a requirement of London County Council for each Polytechnic to restrict its activities to certain defined academic spheres. At Chelsea Polytechnic, this led to the discontinuation of classes in Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering, and in building and commercial subjects, with all courses and classes being transferred to Battersea Polytechnic.

Chelsea concentrated instead on the disciplines of biological, botanical, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences, which ultimately led to the College's designation as a Centre for Science and Technology in 1957.

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