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Queen Elizabeth College, 1953-1985

Princess Alice opens war damaged buildings, 1953 (Ref: Q/PH2/5)Princess Alice opens war damaged buildings, 1953 (Ref: Q/PH2/5)On 12 January 1953 Her Majesty The Queen granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation to the College under the title of Queen Elizabeth College, named after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

1953 was a hugely significant year for the College and also marked the restoration of war damaged buildings, formally reopened on 20 October 1953 by Her Royal Highness Princess Alice and the Chancellor of the University of London. The session also saw the institution of two new degree courses, the BSc Household Science and the BSc Nutrition.

Laying the foundation stone for the Sir John Atkins Laboratories, 1959 (Ref: Q/PH2/43)Laying the foundation stone for the Sir John Atkins Laboratories, 1959 (Ref: Q/PH2/43)On 9 May 1961 the Sir John Atkins Laboratories were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The laboratories provided accommodation for the Departments of Biology, Bacteriology and Nutrition, making possible considerable expansion of research at the College and increasing available teaching space to help meet the national need for more University places for science students.

The laboratories were extended in 1969 and as this building now also contained the Mathematics department and general amenities, the name was altered to The Atkins Building. Other facilities named after benefactors during this period included the large lecture theatre in the Atkins Building, named the Allen Theatre, after Sir George Allen, under whose chairmanship the new buildings were planned. The new library was named the Burton library, in memory of the late Professor Harold Burton, and the old library became the Sargeaunt library, as it was under the direction of Miss Sargeaunt that this facility was rebuilt following war damage. Further building developments followed with an extension to the Departments of Physics and Physiology officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 16 February 1971.

The 1970's saw considerable student activity at Queen Elizabeth including protests against reduced library hours and the general lack of adequate funds for the library. 1971 also saw the largest and most successful political campaign by the Students' Union to date. Nearly 400 members marched on the Department of Education in protest against attempts to stifle the power and independence of Unions. The College authorities were also opposed to the proposals, and it was ironic that the struggle resulted in a strengthening of the Union, as more members than ever before found themselves involved in Union activities and also in its defence.

The Queen Mother opens the Sir John Atkins Laboratories, 1961 (Ref: Q/PH2/52)The Queen Mother opens the Sir John Atkins Laboratories, 1961 (Ref: Q/PH2/52)The Students’ Union was also heavily involved in campaigns both within the NUS and the London Students’ Organisation against increases in fees. A notable success for the Union during this period was its submission for improved representation at all levels of College governance, with student election to both the Academic Board and College Council.

From 1972, proposals were afoot for the physical and academic integration of a number of London institutions, prompting the College to begin actively exploring new forms of collaboration. Discussions were held with King’s College and the two Councils agreed that the institutions, embracing all departments and activities, should be reunified, with the aim of creating a single institution from August 1984. From 1983 the reunification proposals increased their scope to include Chelsea College and in all departments there was now an increasing amount of cross teaching between the staff of the three Colleges as courses were steadily brought in line. Rather than causing disruption to students this was seen as advantageous, offering a greater choice of courses and wider staff expertise. Queen Elizabeth students increasingly attended lectures on the Strand whilst continuing practical classes at Kensington until the formal merging of the Colleges was completed in 1985.

For more images of Queen Elizabeth College, see our gallery.

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