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Visit our exhibition exploring the defining moments and significant individuals who have contributed to the changing face of the university in the 130 years since Queen Victoria officially opened the People’s Palace.

8 August 2017

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In May 1887 Queen Victoria opened the Queen’s Hall and the foundation stone of the People’s Palace Technical Schools was laid. This set in motion a series of events that would lead us to develop from a place of ‘rational recreation’, where day schools sat alongside light entertainment, to the world class university we are today.

We explore complexity and nuance in the lives of those who contributed to our history, for instance, Constance Maynard, first mistress of Westfield College and champion of academic advancement for women, whose traditional outlook meant she railed against the possible effect that the female vote had on the 1923 general election. Dr Ellen Delf-Smith, key protagonist in establishing the botany laboratory at Westfield, whose academic fieldwork led her beyond the attic laboratories of the college on overseas travels to South Africa. We observe the roles played by Professor John MacGregor-Morris, known for his work on the directional hydrophone, and Sidney Lee, Shakespearean scholar and lifelong contributor to the academic life of the college.

John Leigh Smeathman Hatton, another notable figure, guided the university as it transformed from a technical college to an institution with loftier academic goals, becoming the first Principal of the newly minted East London College in 1908. The development of the Students’ Union, with Hatton unusually acting as its first president is shown, alongside the publications produced by a Students' Union that developed a more authentic voice when they appointed their first student president in 1924. And finally, we also examine the pioneering work of the UK’s first High Voltage Laboratory, opened on 6th May 1936.

This exhibition is designed to display and celebrate the diversity of the people and events that shaped Queen Mary University of London.

If you are an external visitor please email us in advance so that we can inform the Library Welcome Desk.



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