King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Student days

History of Chelsea College

Students outside main College entrance at Manresa Road, 1970s (Ref: C/PH6/2)Students outside main College entrance at Manresa Road, 1970s (Ref: C/PH6/2)During its ninety year history, Chelsea College experienced many changes and developments. Founded as South-Western Polytechnic Institute in 1895, the College was initially formed to meet a need for technical education throughout Britain.

The South-Western Polytechnic, situated at Manresa Road, Chelsea, aimed to provide scientific and technical education to Londoners via instruction in domestic economy, mathematics, engineering, natural science, art and music.

Known as Chelsea Polytechnic from 1922, the College taught a growing number of registered students of the University of London, and this relationship was later formally recognised when the Polytechnic, subsequently reconstituted as Chelsea College of Science and Technology, was admitted as a School of the University in 1966.

The renamed Chelsea College was formally incorporated into the University of London in 1971 and later merged with Queen Elizabeth College and King's College London in 1985.


Significant events in the history of Chelsea College.


Principal Tomlinson

H Tomlinson was appointed as the first Principal of the South-Western Polytechnic Institute in 1894.

Mr H. Tomlinson, Principal, 1894-1904 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

South Western Polytechnic Institute

Opened at Manresa Road, Chelsea

Manresa Road, Chelsea College, c1900 (Ref: C/PH1/1)

Principal Skinner

Mr Skinner was appointed Principal in 1904

Mr S. Skinner, Principal, 1904-1928 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

Day School for Boys and Girls

A school for boys and girls was also provided for 13-15 year olds.

Secondary Day School for Boys at South-Western Polytechnic, c1908 (Ref: C/PH7/3)

Chelsea Polytechnic

South-Western Polytechnic evolved into the Chelsea Polytechnic.

The Buff 'Un, front cover from 1923 (Ref: C/SYL1/32)


The School of Chiropody was established in 1927 which included a Foot Clinic treating over 15,000 patients by 1937.

Students in the School of Chiropody at Chelsea Polytechnic, 1930s (Ref: C/PH4/5)

Principal Harlow

Mr Harlow was Principal throughout the 1930s and 1940s and steered the College through many changes.

Mr F. J. Harlow, Principal, 1928-1949 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

School of Art

The new buildings for the School of Art were completed in 1931

Still life room at Chelsea Polytechnic, 1930s (Ref: C/PH4/1)

Natural Science

In 1932 the Department of Natural Science divided to become two separate departments of Geology and Mineralogy and of Biology.

Botanical Laboratory at Chelsea Polytechnic, 1928 (Ref: C/PH1/2)

Principal Lightfoot

Mr Lightfoot, appointed Principal in 1950, played an important role in the post-war development of the College which saw its designation as a college of advanced technology and renaming as Chelsea College of Science and Technology.

Mr N. M. H. Lightfoot, Principal, 1950-1962 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

Principal Hentsche

At only three years, Mr Hentschel was the shortest serving Principal at Chelsea.

Mr C. Hentschel, Principal, 1962-1965 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

Principal Gavin

Dr Gavin was the Principal when the College was granted a Royal Charter and renamed Chelsea College (University of London). In 1977, the newly built hall of residence was named after him.

Dr M. R. Gavin, Principal, 1965-1973 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

Principal Ingram

In 1973, Dr David Ingram succeeded Malcolm Gavin as the Principal of the College.

Dr D. J. E. Ingram, Principal, 1973-1980 (Ref: C/PH7/1)

Principal Phelps

Dr Phelps was the last Principal of Chelsea College from 1981-1985.

Dr C. F. Phelps, Principal, 1981-1985 (Ref: C/PH7/6)
ARCHIOS™ | Total time:0.0350 s | Source:cache | Platform: NX