manchester modernist society

The Colossi of UMIST…..

In ideas, science, society, uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

John Henry Reynolds (February 8, 1842 – July 17, 1927) is a crucial figure in the development of the institution that would eventually become UMIST. And the story is typical of the radical, self made Manchester Man era to boot!

Born in Salford the eldest son of a bootmaker, he attended the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel and Manchester Grammar School before apprenticing to his father at twelve years of age. He also assisted at the Sunday School at Cross Street where he met William Fairbairn (engineer, shipbuilder and President of the Manchester Lit & Phil society) and William Gaskell (minister, educationalist and key figure in the formation of the Mechanics Institute).

By the 1870s, the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute was in decline. Despite its original ambitious mission to bring technical expertise to working men, its core activities had shrunk to the provision of elementary education in the face of new competition from the state-funded schools being established by the Elementary Education Act 1870. In 1879, Reynolds was appointed Secretary to the Institute and set about reasserting its lead – by all accounts a persuasive advocate, he grasped the city’s appetite for more effective vocational education and led its reinvention as the Manchester Technical School in 1882. Before long he had further secured the college’s future by adopting the London Institute’s new City and Guilds system and exams, recapturing the lead that was being threatened by strong establishments and schools starting to flourish across Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

A grant from the Whitworth Institute enabled him to realise his ambitions for a state-of-the-art institution with the construction of the buildings on Sackville Street, opened in 1902 by Arthur Balfour. The institution was renamed as the Municipal School of Technology and Reynolds became its principal and director for higher education of Manchester.

In 1904, the newly-autonomous Victoria University of Manchester recognised the status of many of the courses that Reynolds had developed by establishing a faculty of technology at the Institute. Reynolds became dean of the faculty, ensuring that the Institute’s newly appointed professors were recognised by the university.

And, consistent with Reynolds’ radical sympathies and formative years, the bulk of the Institute’s work remained devoted to vocational, rather than academic, education.

Sir Charles Garonne Renold (29 October 1883 – 7 September 1967) was Vice President of the Manchester College of Science and Technology and chairman of the planning and development committee. Born in Altrincham, he was the son of Hans Renold, a Swiss born engineer and businessman who became chairman of the family business Renold Chains and Gears in Manchester.

A respected expert in industrial administration, he was knighted in 1948 for services to the cause of good management and the development of humane and progressive ideals in industry.

The brand new Renold Building was fittingly named in his honour, and in fact he laid the foundation stone himself on June 24, 1960…

Bertram Vivian Bowden (18 January 1910 – 28 July 1989) was a noted scientist in his own right but it’s his tireless efforts as an educationist and with the development of UMIST as a successful independent university that he is most known.

Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, he graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1931 and in 1940 he was conscripted to the Telecommunications Research Establishment to work on radar and later from 1943 at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, establishing himself as an effective administrator. The post war period however saw him take up a variety of jobs, including selling early computers manufactured by Ferranti – an experience that made him understand the enormous impact that new technology was about to make.

In 1953, Bowden became principal of what was then still the Manchester College of Science and Technology, but as our previous postings have shown, the post-war expansion in university education, coupled with his ambitions for the institution soon brought about the college’s transformation into UMIST.

In 1964, he was created a life peer as Baron Bowden of Chesterfield and appointed Minister for Education and Science, an appointment which didn’t really suit him – by 1965 he had returned to UMIST, where he remained until his retirement in 1976.

 

Roy Chadwick (30 April 1893 – 23 August 1947) became the Chief Designer for the Avro Company, responsible for practically all of their aeroplane designs, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest aircraft designers. And it all started at the Tech…!

After attending a church school in Urmston, young Chadwick studied at night school from 1907 – 1911 at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, whilst working as a draughtsman in Trafford Park.

Diploma under his belt, he so impressed Alliott Verdon-Roe that he became his personal assistant and swiftly rose to be the firm’s chief draughtsman at A.V.Roe and Company (AVRO) in Manchester. Under the direction of AV Roe, Chadwick drafted the AVRO D, a two seated tractor biplane, the AVRO E, which was converted to a floatplane and in 1912, the AVRO F, the world’s first monoplane and cabin machine.

He is famous in particular for designing the Lancaster bomber, its follow-up the Lincoln and preliminary designs of the Vulcan V bomber. He also converted the Lincoln into the much-used Shackleton, and his Avro Yorks carried one third of the entire British tonnage during the Berlin Airlift!

In 1943 Chadwick was awarded the CBE for his role in the Dambusters raid, the production of the Lancaster and the special modifications which allowed Upkeep to be delivered to Germany. He was also made a honorary Master of Science at Manchester University in 1944.

His final involvement with Avro was overseeing the initial designs of the Vulcan from 1946. He died tragically on 23 August 1947 during a crash on take-off of a test flight of his latest prototype Avro Tudor.

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