Follow our history from AD120 to present day

The University of Cumbria was established in 2007, bringing together Cumbria Institute of the Arts, St Martin’s College and the Cumbrian campuses of UCLAN. 

Today we operate from campuses in Carlisle, Lancaster, Ambleside and London, with a presence on the Cumbrian West Coast.  Our 10000 current students and 43000 alumni are located worldwide.

Here we guide you through a timeline of the rich and diverse history of our campuses.

We can’t include everything and everyone here, but this is where we turn to you. We want you to contribute to the continued development of this timeline.  As you scroll through, do consider these questions: What do our campuses mean to you? Can you put yourself into our timeline? How is the University of Cumbria a part of your story?

If you would like to share your memories and thoughts with us, please email alumni@cumbria.ac.uk

Further Reading

Martin’s College Lancaster 1964-89 by Peter S Gedge and Lois M R Louden
Charlotte Mason: Hidden Heritage and Educational Influence by Margaret A Coombs
Carlisle's First Learning Centre: Tullie House by Denis Perriam & David Ramshaw

Brampton Road
Fusehill Street


The vallum, a defensive mechanism for Hadrian's wall, is built

Roman vallum
Around AD122

Brampton Road sits on the site of the vallum for Hadrian’s Wall. The vallum was a wide deep ditch flanked by large mounds of earth, providing an extra defence for the wall. Numerous archaeological excavations prove the existence of the vallum and Hadrian’s Wall in this important historical area.


Green Bank (the former name of Scale How) is built

Image courtesy of the Armitt Trust, Ambleside


Dorothy Harrison (a cousin of William Wordsworth) moves into Green Bank with her family


The Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts is established


Charlotte Mason is born

Portrait of Charlotte Mason
Fred Yates

Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason was born in 1842 in Bangor, North Wales. Following early studies at home and further training in Chichester she developed a strong passion for education.

Her ideas were revolutionary for the time, she wrote numerous books and founded the Parents’ Educational Union before establishing her training school. Charlotte died in 1923 at Scale How, she is buried at St. Mary’s Church in Ambleside. Her influence is still recognised today with many educators adopting the ‘Charlotte Mason method’.

This portrait was restored in 2004 jointly by St Martin’s College and the Charlotte Mason College Association.


Jonathan Dodgson Carr commissions the building of Edenside (Former name for Homeacres)

Edenside House
Jonathan Dodgson Carr

Jonathan Dodgson Carr is a well-known name to the city of Carlisle. He established Carr’s of Carlisle, a small family bakery business in the city in 1831. In 1837 he opened his flour mill in Caldewgate which of course still stands today and fills the city with the glorious smell of biscuits. Fifteen years after opening they were the largest bakery business in the country and received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1841.

Jonathan Dodgson Carr had Edenside built (the former name for Homeacres) and lived there from 1845 until 1854.


Cumberland Reformatory for boys of a criminal class is established in what is today workshops and ceramics studios


The School of Art is established in Carlisle city centre


The City Council approves plans to build a central workhouse at Fusehill

Workhouse plan
Henry F Lockwood and William Mawson

In 1862 the plans for the Fusehill Workhouse were approved by the Board of Health. The design was open to a compeition and 15 entries were received. Successful entrants Henry F Lockwood and William Mawson designed it for 478 inmates at a cost of £11, 195.15s.

The left of the building was for the men, and the right for the women. Children were mainly housed elsewhere.

Workhouse plan courtesy of Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle

Fusehill workhouse image copyright, with kind permission from Cumbria Image Bank


The Union Workhouse Opens

Jimmy Dyer statue
Judith Bluck

Jimmy Dyer was a well-known figure around northern Cumbria in the late 1800s. He was a soldier in his early life but didn’t take to that, and as he disliked hard work, he entertained the crowds at races and fairs with his violin music.  Jimmy's wanderings came to an end in 1903 when his personal situation was such that he had to move to Fusehill Workhouse where he died soon after.

The bronze sculpture in The Lanes Shopping Centre was commissioned by General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Plc for the City of Carlisle.

Photograph by Darren Andrews.

Lead graffiti
1887 to 1983

Contractors who climbed to the top of listed building ‘Skiddaw’ during a refurbishment project made a discovery. Scored into the lead dome of one of the building’s cupolas were 19 names, nicknames and initials: traces of some of the men who worked on the building over the last century.

Some of the inscriptions carry dates as well as a note about the person’s occupation. The dates span 1887 to 1983. ‘J. DENARD’ is one of the earliest dated inscriptions. They were leaving their marks in a relatively hidden place with a great view, which they must have known only a few people would ever get to see.

Discover more about our lead graffiti here.



Contruction is completed on the King's Own Regiment barracks at Bowerham

The King's Own Regiment, Bowerham Barracks
1897 - 1930's

In 1873 The War Office purchased a piece of land on the Bowerham estate, for £7,300. The barracks were erected between 1876 and 1880, as the depot for the King’s Own Royal Regiment, which recruited from Fleetwood in the south to Barrow-in-Furness in the west and Coniston in the north.

The barracks provided stables, an armoury, stores, guard room and hospital as well as accommodation for officers, sergeants and their wives and two barrack blocks for the recruits. 



Charlotte Mason establishes her House of Education, a training school for female governesses at Springfield House


The Beehive is brought into use as a practice school

Image courtesy of the Armitt Trust, Ambleside. 


The House of Education increased in size and moves to Green Bank. The house is renamed Scale How

Nature notebooks
Margaret Beck and Gwendolen Wilkinson
1910 and 1926

Charlotte Mason devoted her life to the work of education. She passionately believed that children should be treated as individuals; in her own words “children are born persons”. Children should learn first-hand from many sources, and great prominence was given to the observation of nature with all pupils encouraged to keep a nature notebook.

Carved into her gravestone are some of her most well-known sayings: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” and “For the children’s sake.”

From the House of Education, courtesy of the Armitt Trust, Ambleside.


The Charlotte Mason College Association is established, they publish their first newsletter L'Umile Pianta

L’Umile Pianta
Charlotte Mason College Association

The Charlotte Mason College Association (CMCA) was founded by former students of the college in order to keep in touch and help one another in their united cause of education. The first alumni newsletter was published in January 1896 entitled L’Umile Pianta (or the humble plant) referring to the rushes on the college badge. The badge is taken from Dante’s Purgatorio where the rush is a symbol of humility and divine grace.

L’Umile Pianta is still produced today by the CMCA.

With thanks to the Charlotte Mason College Association.


Fred Yates illustrates the walls of a building with charcoal reproductions of famous Millet paintings

Millet charcoal reproductions
Fred Yates after Jean-François Millet

Yates had been lecturing on the French artist Jean- François Millet since 1889. When he was asked to give a talk he wasn’t fazed by the fact that he lacked reproductions of Millet’s paintings to illustrate his lecture. He simply drew copies of paintings on the freshly white-washed walls of the building that would become known as ‘Millet’.

Charlotte Mason, however, insisted that the drawings should be fixed to preserve them for the benefit of future students. Thanks to her decision and more than a little luck, nine of his drawings survive in ‘Millet’ today.

Discover more about our Millet murals here.

Photographs by Dayve Ward.


During the First World War the workhouse is taken over as a military hospital

Fusehill War Hospital

During wartime, the Fusehill buildings were commandeered as a hospital for wounded personnel. The site was chosen as it was relatively easy to move wounded men via the railway links. 

Soldiers and airmen would not know which hospital in Great Britain they were being taken to until they woke up. 

This photograph shows nursing staff and soldiers in 1918. Note the face in the window at the far right!


Charlotte Mason dies, her estate is bequeathed to continue her educational work


The workhouse changes hands to Carlisle City Council. The institution changes name to the Carlisle Poor Law Hospital


During the Second World War the site is again taken over as a military hospital. The name is now the City General


The House of Education is re-named Charlotte Mason College after its founder

Play Video

Passages from the past
Lizzie Gilson

Charlotte Mason College has been a much admired and well-loved part of the small Ambleside community for many years. The Ambleside Oral History Group has amassed a huge collection of stories describing the unique way of life in Ambleside and the surrounding areas. Many of these stories include memories from staff, students and pupils from Charlotte Mason College. 

Here we have selected a few passages which have kindly been read for us by members of the Ambleside Community Liaison Group and Oral History Group.

With special thanks to the Ambleside Oral History Group and the Ambleside Community Liaison Group.



With the outbreak of war, recruitment of students increases, reflecting the safety of the college's location in Ambleside


The NHS is formed, the city ceases responsibility for the hospital


The School of Art purchases Homeacres and the name changes to Carlisle College of Art

Cumbria Institute of the Arts
1930 – 1990

1950 marks the year that the arts moved to Brampton Road. Homeacres was purchased for £8,000 with a further £2,000 to refurbish it to an art school. 70 full-time students were enrolled on courses including hairdressing, printing and fine arts.

Some of our beautiful collection of college prospectuses are displayed here from when the school of art was still situated in Tullie House in the 1930s, up to the Cumbria Institute of the Arts full colour glossy brochures of the 1990s.


The barracks close

Following the reduction in the size of the army after the Second World War, recruit training moved away from Bowerham and the barracks closed on 26 September 1959.



Town Clerk Don Waddell suggests the Bowerham site for a new teacher training college


Artist Conrad Atkinson, now a university Honorary Fellow, completes his studies at the College of Art


Dr Hugh Pollard is selected as the first principal of the new college

Play Video

Extract from ‘30 years on the hill’
Dr J Chippendale

Dr Hugh Mortimer Pollard was born in Lancashire on 2 November 1915. He read English at Wadham College Oxford, graduating in 1936, and completed a PhD at Liverpool in 1954.

Dr Pollard was the founding principal of S Martin’s College and remained for 13 years. During this time the college numbers swelled from 89 to over 700. One of the many legacies he left on the campus was the fine collection of art works, most notably a piece by Dame Barbara Hepworth which can be viewed today in the library and a large piece by Bratby in the chapel.

You can read more about Bratby's Golgotha here.

Hugh Pollard died on 12 March 2005.


The new art college building opens


Now named S Martin's College, the first 89 students and 13 staff start on campus

S Martin’s College starters

Dr Hugh Pollard settled upon the name S Martin’s College after the Roman soldier St Martin of Tours. Dr Pollard was adamant the ‘t’ was dropped from ‘St’ to reflect the French way. St Martin had renounced life as a soldier and devoted it to caring and teaching, reflecting the move of Bowerham Barracks from its military past to become a college.

The very first class of the new S Martin’s College, 89 students all studying teaching, started in September 1964. The image shows the new students and staff posing outside College Main.


Building work starts to convert the site with the chapel the centre & heart of the campus


The first men are enrolled at the college. They have to be married


William Thompson Hall (Willy Tom) is opened by Princess Margaretha of Sweden


The college is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

St Martin’s College

Dr Hugh Pollard, the first principal, was a very well-connected man, keen to create prestige for the new college. Throughout the early years the college received visits from VIPs, not least, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who formally opened the campus in 1967. There was always a formal invite and full programme for these type of events.


All maternity care is transferred to the site, the City Maternity Hospital is today our Blencathra building.

The UoC Fusehill babies
1950s - 2000

Our campus holds a very significant place in the hearts of a large percentage of the Carlisle population, as many were born right here. The City Maternity Hospital officially came into being around 1968 but prior to this babies were born in the maternity ward of the City General.

Generations of Carlisle hold a strong link to the building; not least many of our university staff who were either born here themselves or had children and grandchildren here. Our collage shows just some of the UoC Fusehill babies.


The college comes under control of the new Cumbria Local Education Authority and changes its name to the Cumbria College of Art and Design


Dr Hugh Pollard retires and is awarded an OBE for his work


The library opens, supported by a donation from local businessman Harold Bridges


New nursing degrees are validated

St Martin’s College
1964 - 1991

St Martin’s College started as a teaching college, with all students studying a common subject. By 1988, under principal Robert Clayton, the courses had diversified and expanded to include nursing and health care subjects. Further courses followed over the years including humanities, business, drama and sport.

The college did not have degree awarding powers of its own and all qualifications were accredited by Lancaster University.

The university archive holds prospectuses from each of our legacy institutions. The prospectuses here show progression of printing methods and graphic design over the years.


The lecture theatre, named after first principal Hugh Pollard, is opened by playwright Alan Bennett


The first award ceremonies take place at Carlisle Cathedral

Award ceremony brochures
Cumbria Institute of the Arts
1994 and 2006

Cumbria College of Art and Design held its first degree award ceremonies in Carlisle Cathedral in 1994. The college did not hold its own degree awarding powers so qualifications were accredited by University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

Each year in July and November the University of Cumbria takes over Carlisle Cathedral to celebrate its graduates, keeping up with the tradition that was started by Cumbria College of Art and Design.



The halls of residence open


St Martin’s College takes over the Lakeland College of Nursing


Following a period of uncertainty the campus now comes under the control of St Martin’s College


St Martin's College moves into buildings on site


The first cohort of students is recruited to the BA QTS primary programme in Tower Hamlets


The City General and City Maternity close and everything is moved to the Cumberland Infirmary on Newtown Road

City General and Maternity Hospital plan
Around 1990

This is the original plan which was in the foyer of the hospital. Much of the original hospital buildings are still here, though have been repurposed for a different use.

The Oral Surgery and Orthodontics was pulled down to make way for the Learning Gateway building in 2003 and the Laundry was removed for the Sports Hall to be built.


Major renovation works take place, the main building gets a facelift and extension


Due to an increase in student numbers, St Martin's College (London) moves to the Professional Development Centre located in English Street, Mile End


The college officially changes its name to Cumbria Institute of the Arts

Cumbria Institute of the Arts
Around 2002

The college has been known by various names over the years, starting as the School of Art, then Carlisle College of Art, changing to Cumbria College of Art and Design and finally in 2002 becoming Cumbria Institute of the Arts to reflect its wider portfolio of courses. No matter what the name, the campus will forever be known as ‘the art college’ by local residents.

The iconic red Cumbria logo was originally designed by a student. It has been printed on many marketing items over the years, from mugs, spectacle cases, pin badges and even colouring pencils.


Class of 1990, art foundation alumnus, Keith Tyson wins the prestigious Turner Prize


The first cohort of BA QTS students graduate


The Gateway is opened, providing a new café, students’ union, offices and a formal venue space


The Learning Gateway is built, providing a large lecture theatre and flexible learning spaces.


Due to financial constraints on the new university, student recruitment is put on hold in Ambleside


The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) is established


The London campus relocates to new premises at East India Dock Road


Students return to the campus on outdoor education, forestry and conservation courses.

Play Video

Shared place: a walk
Lizzie Gilson

We have more than 600 students studying at Ambleside today on courses such as animal conservation sciencebiologyforestrygeography and outdoor education.  In keeping with the tradition of Charlotte Mason, they are learning from nature and the outdoors.

The Conservation Society, set up by Ambleside students, is a group who study local wildlife and plants. This video, produced and edited by Lizzie Gilson, class of 2017 outdoor studies graduate, explains a little more.

With special thanks to the Ambleside Conservation Society.


The first students and staff from 1964 meet back together on campus to celebrate their 50th reunion


Major developments of the campus take place including a new library and café


Fine arts courses move from Caldewgate, their home since 1991


The Vallum Gallery opens


New STEM labs are opened, providing courses in chemistry, biology and zoology


The Black Box Theatre is demolished and major campus modernisation and improvement works are planned


The campus is renamed University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts to reflect its proud history


More than 70% of Tower Hamlets primary schools employ at least one University of Cumbria graduate

Play Video

Teaching tales of Tower Hamlets
Nigel Thompson

East India Dock Road in Tower Hamlets is home to the University of Cumbria’s London campus and the main base for a range of teacher training courses.

The university has a long association with the area with over 70% of schools employing at least one UoC student.

In June 2017, 40 former students attended a gathering to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the creation of the University of Cumbria.

Teaching tales of Tower Hamlets
Nigel Thompson

East India Dock Road in Tower Hamlets is home to the University of Cumbria’s London campus and the main base for a range of teacher training courses.

The university has a long association with the area with over 70% of schools employing at least one UoC student.

In June 2017, 40 former students attended a gathering to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the creation of the University of Cumbria.


The new Sentamu Teaching Block officially opens, named in honour of our Chancellor, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu