Social history: Education, adult and technical education

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.

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'Social history: Education, adult and technical education', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, (London, 2004), pp. 187-190. British History Online [accessed 12 June 2024].

. "Social history: Education, adult and technical education", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, (London, 2004) 187-190. British History Online, accessed June 12, 2024,

. "Social history: Education, adult and technical education", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, (London, 2004). 187-190. British History Online. Web. 12 June 2024,


Adults' evening classes at Christ Church school in 1848 had increased its expenses (fn. 1) and may not have lasted. Evening classes at Exeter Buildings ragged school in 1845 were for adults, although those at ragged schools from 1849 were apparently for children, (fn. 2) but adults may have attended the Oratory school in 1857, when a teacher, with volunteer assistants, was paid 1s. for two hours a night from Monday to Friday. (fn. 3) The composition of the 515 evening pupils recorded in 1861 or of the 561 enrolled in 1871 is uncertain. (fn. 4) Night schools existed in 1871 at Holy Trinity, Park Chapel (boys' and girls'), St Saviour's, and Exeter Buildings schools and in 1872 at St Luke's in both King Street and Arthur Street. The largest roll in 1871 was 130 for Park Chapel (boys'), where the average attendance was 54. (fn. 5)

The school board enrolled 149 males for evening classes at Marlborough Road school for 1882-3; 116 were aged from 14 to 21, 8 were younger, and 25 were older. Females in 1882-3 attended Queen's Gardens school, Brompton, which was superseded by Park Walk school for 1883-4, when there were 51 enrolments there and 87 at Marlborough Road. The most popular advanced classes at Marlborough Road were for the civil service, with an average attendance of 18, followed by those for shorthand, with 10, and for drawing, with 9. Cook's Ground school was opened as Chelsea's third centre for 1885-6 and the Ashburnham as a fourth for 1890-1, by which time enrolments totalled 647. Both sexes could attend Marlborough Road from 1889. (fn. 6) The first cookery centre, one of three in the Chelsea division, was opened at Marlborough Road in 1882. (fn. 7) Under an Order of 1888 the apprenticing half of Chamberlaine's charity might be spent on the technical education in Westminster of boys from schools in Chelsea. Apprenticing later became more popular, however, and still accounted for payments, made by Chelsea MB, in 1930. (fn. 8)

Evening classes continued at the four board schools after the opening of a polytechnic (below). A total of 786 attenders received a grant for 1905-6 and evening institutes offered junior commercial and technical subjects at Park Walk and general subjects at Marlborough in 1918-19, when classes were also held at Chelsea branch post office. (fn. 9) There were classes at the Ashburnham, Marlborough, and Park Walk in 1937 and at Kingsley school, for women, and Marlborough and Park Walk in 1957. (fn. 10) They survived as part of the ILEA's Chelsea-Westminster adult education institute at Marlborough and Park Walk in 1980 and at Chelsea secondary and Marlborough schools in 1987, before forming part of Kensington and Chelsea College (below). (fn. 11)

Onslow College of Science and Technology was leased no. 183 King's Road for 80 years from 1880. Subject to a trust for educating children and adults in the arts or in sciences applicable to industry, it secured a grant from the committee set up to establish a polytechnic. The college nonetheless went bankrupt and its premises were sold under an Order of 1898, leaving c.300 students to form the nucleus of the polytechnic's student body. (fn. 12)

The South-West London Polytechnic Institute (fn. 13) originated in an offer of £50,000 made in 1888 by the City Parochial Foundation under the City of London Parochial Charities Act, 1883, in a Charity Commissioners' Scheme providing for annual grants, and in the establishment in 1891 of a governing body to build and maintain a polytechnic serving Chelsea, south Kensington, and neighbouring parishes. A matching sum was eventually raised locally and the freehold of a site in Manresa Road, of which the leasehold had to be bought, was given by Earl Cadogan. As the sole vestry to offer an annual grant, Chelsea was allowed to appoint a governor from 1894. Classes started in 1895 and a full range was provided from 1896, when over 1,500 students had enrolled. By 1902-3 there were day colleges for men and women aged 16 or more, schools of art and domestic economy, miscellaneous lectures, and evening classes, besides a mixed secondary school (fn. 14) and many societies.

Early expansion, like the delayed foundation, was affected by strained relations with the City Parochial Foundation, which felt that a relatively prosperous area should do more to help itself. The polytechnic's recreational side allowed it to remain with the Charity Commissioners after many endowments had been transferred under an Act of 1899, although supplementary grants were soon made both by the LCC's technical education board and by the Board of Education. Criticism c. 1930 that most students had already attended elementary school, suggesting neglect of the working class, brought a slight reduction in the Charity Commissioners' grant, but it was only under an order of 1949 that control passed to the Ministry of Education. National status followed, with designation as a college of advanced technology from 1957, (fn. 15) when the school of art was to become separate. (fn. 16) Escaping the threat of removal to Hertfordshire in 1965 but failing to gain full independence, (fn. 17) the college was admitted as a school of London University in 1966. The name changed from South-West London Polytechnic Institute in 1895 to South-Western Polytechnic in 1898, Chelsea Polytechnic in 1922, Chelsea College of Science and Technology in 1957, and Chelsea College on the final reception of its charter in 1971. (fn. 18) After merging with King's College London in 1985, the premises formed part of that college's Chelsea campus. (fn. 19)

The main building of 1891-5 was designed by J.M. Brydon in an ornate Georgian style, of red brick with bold Bath stone dressings. Two- or three-storeyed and over a semi-basement, it had north and south wings and included a swimming bath, gymnasium, and hall for 700. (fn. 20) First and second extensions were built in 1899-1900 was a west wing and as additions to the south, and a third was finished in 1904 at the west end. (fn. 21) Additional buildings were opened in 1932 (fn. 22) and more, designed by the LCC's architect Hubert Bennett, were provided with the new art school opened in 1965. (fn. 23) They included a communal block and the 11-storeyed Lightfoot Hall on the west side of Manresa Road and a chemistry block on the east side. In 1980 the college acquired the former public library in Manresa Road, which it linked to the main building by a bridge, and the site of St Mark's College, where an accommodation block was renamed Ingram Court. (fn. 24) The Chelsea campus in 1994 could house 197 residents in Lightfoot Hall and 233 in Ingram Court at no. 552 King's Road. (fn. 25)

Chelsea School of Art, (fn. 26) which evolved into one of the two main sections of Chelsea Polytechnic and published its own prospectus from the 1930s, closed in the Second World War and afterwards temporarily moved to St Martin's School of Art in Westminster. (fn. 27) In 1957 it was decided to separate Chelsea's art school from the newly designated college of advanced technology by uniting it with the Polytechnic Art School, which was part of Regent Street Polytechnic. Separation took place in 1964, despite protests at a threatened reduction in student places to 250 and in teaching posts, since Regent Street relied on full-time staff while Chelsea drew more heavily on instruction from practising artists, including Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. (fn. 28) A site was provided by the LCC on the east side of Manresa Road for buildings which would include an art school, to be built between 1961 and 1963. A four-storeyed building faced with white mosaic and with single-storeyed wings, designed by Bennett and set back from the road, (fn. 29) it was officially opened in 1965. The art department of Hammersmith College of Art and Building was taken over in 1975. (fn. 30) As part of the London Institute, which was established in 1986 and left the ILEA in 1989, Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1992 contained schools of both fine art and design at degree and post-graduate levels, besides offering part-time A-level study. (fn. 31) It temporarily occupied former school premises in Hortensia Road in the 1980s and had sites in Fulham and Hammersmith in 1996, when the Chelsea site had 354 full-time and 130 part-time students.

Kensington and Chelsea College was formed by the new education directorate in 1990, replacing the ILEA's Chelsea-Westminster adult education institute, whose Chelsea premises became its Hortensia (formerly Chelsea secondary school) and Marlborough centres. In 1996 it also had a third, smaller, centre in Park Walk, housing sculpture studios, besides three centres in Kensington. The college was incorporated in 1993 and drew 58 per cent of its income form the Further Education Funding Council and 154 per cent from the royal borough in 1994-5, when four faculties offered both certificated and personal interest courses to nearly 17,000 students, over 6,000 of whom were part-time. (fn. 32)

Two training colleges, maintained by the National Society and situated in Chelsea, contributed to local public education both by supplying teachers and by the use of a practising school attended by local children. Stanley Grove, which once had housed Lochée's military academy, was bought in 1840 (fn. 33) to house St Mark's College, for men. Whitelands Lodge, once the Misses Babington's school, (fn. 34) was bought in 1841 to house Whitelands College, for women.

St Mark's College, aided by a parliamentary grant, opened in 1841 and was so named from 1843, when the chapel was consecrated. The principal until 1864 was the Revd Derwent Coleridge (d. 1883), who earned it a high reputation and was visited by Macaulay, Charles Kingsley, and the French statesman François Guizot. (fn. 35) In 1870 there were 104 students, admitted when aged 18-21 and mostly former pupil teachers, who paid nothing beyond a £10 entrance fee for two years' residence; in 1890 there were 115. (fn. 36) Accommodation was increased after amalgamation with St John's, Battersea, in 1923 and again in the 1960s, when numbers rose from 230 to 700, Except during the Second World War, the College of St Mark and St John remained in Chelsea until it moved to Plymouth in 1973. The 7-acre site, thought to be needed for the West Cross route, was compulsorily purchased in 1975 by the GLC, which after much controversy sold it in 1980 to Chelsea College, itself soon taken over by King's College London (above). (fn. 37)

The buildings of St Mark's (fn. 38) in 1997 included Stanley House or Grove, dating from the early 1690s and with a sculpture gallery added in the early 19th century by William Hamilton (d. 1859). As Stanley House, approached from King's Road, it had been the principal's residence and at first had also housed the students until the opening of a block at its west end, designed by Edward Blore and built around a quadrangle in a mixed Byzantine and Italianate style. To the north, along Fulham Road, were Blore's stock-brick Romanesque chapel and the practising school to the west, (fn. 39) both of 1841-7. His King's Road block had been replaced in 1923 by a larger building, itself later extended farther west. The GLC had used the former students' accommodation as a hostel and it had been only after local resistance and government intervention that it had sold what was known as the Marjon site to Chelsea College, which had not been the highest bidder. King's College London renovated many buildings as a campus but provoked further controversy in 1989 by proposing to sell the whole site for development. (fn. 40) A sale was still intended in 1997, when planning consent had been obtained for offices at Stanley House and for commercial use of the Octagon. (fn. 41)

Whitelands College (fn. 42) opened in 1841 with 12 students, soon increased to 40. On a site leased from the glebe, it received no parliamentary grant and in 1849 was taken over by the National Society. Later benefactors included Angela Burdett-Coutts, who from 1854 encouraged practical domestic training, and John Ruskin, who instituted a May Day festival. (fn. 43) Over 100 students, aged 18-25, attended by 1869. (fn. 44) The 18th-century Whitelands Lodge, of three storeys and five bays, in 1890-1 made way for a larger block, in alignment with extensions which had been built closer to King's Road. Henry Clutton, who designed additions for the training school in 1850 and 1855, (fn. 45) also designed a chapel, with glass by Burne-Jones and a reredos by Morris, which was built in 1881; in 1900 c.200 staff and students attended the chapel daily and St Luke's church on Sunday morning. (fn. 46) The College left in 1930 for new premises in Putney, where fittings from the chapel and the iron gates to Whitelands Lodge were installed. It was replaced by the flats and shops of Whitelands House, next to no. 33 King's Road.


  • 1. PRO, ED 7/74.
  • 2. London City Mission Mag. X. 237; Ragged Sch. Union Mag. I. 135; III. 207.
  • 3. PRO, ED 7/74.
  • 4. Rep. Com. Popular Educ. (Parl. Papers, 1861 [2794-I], XXI(3)), p. 327; LMA, SBL 1518.
  • 5. LMA, SBL 1518; ibid. 1329. Night schs also existed at St John's, Kensal Green, in Chelsea detached.
  • 6. LMA, SBL 1456 (1st to 21st Ann. Reps of Special Cttee on Evg Classes).
  • 7. LMA, SBL 691, pp. 353, 366.
  • 8. Endowed Chars London (1901), 231; Char. Com. files; Wheeler, Chelsea Chars.
  • 9. LCC, London Statistics, XVI. 266; XXVI. 274-5.
  • 10. Chelsea MB, Official Guide [1937]; ibid. 1957-8.
  • 11. Phone Bk 1987; Kensington and Chelsea Coll. Ann. Rep. 1994-5.
  • 12. Endowed Chars London (1904), 122; Chelsea Misc. 474; Brit. Jnl of Educ. Studies, XVII(3), 263; S.J. Teague and others, Chelsea College - A Hist. (1977), 18.
  • 13. Para. based on Endowed Chars London (1904), 121-8; Brit. Jnl of Educ. Studies, XVII(3), 262-6; Teague, Chelsea Coll. 17; The Times, 24 July 1891.
  • 14. Above, pub. schs (South-West London Polytechnic).
  • 15. V. Belcher, The City Parochial Foundation, 1891-1991 (1991), 3, 120-1, 132, 140, 151, 263, 265.
  • 16. Chelsea MB, Official Guide 1957-8; below.
  • 17. The Times, 6 July 1965; 2 May 1966.
  • 18. BL catalogue; Teague, Chelsea Coll. 36, 56, 77, 81; Maclure, One Hundred Years of London Educ. 186.
  • 19. Univ. of London Calendar, 1993-4, 52. King's Coll. also took over St Mark's (below).
  • 20. Pevsner, London II. 93; Brit. Jnl of Educ. Studies, XVII(3), 263; Plans in Chelsea Misc. 186-7.
  • 21. Endowed Chars London (1904), 122.
  • 22. The Times, 5 Nov. 1932.
  • 23. Ibid., 2 Oct. 1959; below.
  • 24. Chelsea cuttings: Chelsea Coll.
  • 25. Kings Coll. London Undergraduate Prospectus, 1994.
  • 26. Para. based on inf. from head of learning resources.
  • 27. Chelsea, Official Guide, 1957-8; Teague, Chelsea Coll. 47.
  • 28. The Times, 30 Dec. 1957; 1, 3 Jan. 1958 et seq.
  • 29. Ibid., 23 Jan., 17 April 1958; 2 Oct. 1959.
  • 30. ILEA, Educ. Cttee Mins, 25 June, 29 Oct. 1974.
  • 31. RBKC 1992 [guide].
  • 32. Kensington and Chelsea Coll. Ann. Rep. 1994-5; Rep. from Inspectorate, April 1996; Prospectus 1996-7; see Fig. 65.
  • 33. Below, private schs.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. M. Roberts, Coll. of St Mark and St John, 1840-65 (1946), 6-9, 35. For the practising sch., above, pub. schs (St Mark's).
  • 36. Rep. of Educ. Cttee of Council, 1870-1, 173; ibid. 1890-1, 445; F.S. de Carteret-Bisson, Our Schs and Colleges (1872), 293.
  • 37. Roberts, Coll. of St Mark, 44; Chelsea Soc. Rep. (1942-3), 21-2; ibid. (1980), 16; ibid. (1981), 29, 32; inf. from college sec., King's Coll. London.
  • 38. Para, based on Pevsner, London, II. 93; Chelsea Soc. Rep. (1981), 31-2; Chelsea cuttings: St Mark and St John; see Fig. 53, Stanley Ho.
  • 39. Above, pub. schs (St Mark's); below, private schs (Octagon). Proposed plans by Hen. Clutton are in Chelsea Misc. 243-56; see Fig. 66.
  • 40. Chelsea Soc. Rep. (1989), 16; ibid. (1991), 17, 27; ibid. (1993), 16.
  • 41. Inf. from college sec., King's Coll. London; above, Settlement, twentieth cent.
  • 42. Para, based on Survey of London, IV. 90; Chelsea Soc. Rep. (1994), 50-1; LMA, A/WSO/29, 31. For the practising sch., above, pub. schs (Whitelands).
  • 43. Blunt, Chelsea, 18; E. Healey, Lady Unknown (1984), 130; A. Burdett-Coutts, Summary Account of Prizes for Common Things [1857], 65, 1205; Chelsea Misc. 258-9, 1053.
  • 44. Bryan, Chelsea, 176.
  • 45. LMA, Y/SP/7/6/A-N.
  • 46. Lambeth Pal. Lib., Fulham Papers, Creighton 2/12.