Early Beginnings

Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire

The council for the Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire was founded in 1900 with intention to further education opportunities in North Staffordshire.

Chaired by local industrialist Alfred Sohier Bolton the committee aimed to raise money to support the teaching of Oxford University’s Extension Courses throughout the region and to build a North Staffordshire College.

Unknown to fellow committee members, Alfred purchased a vacant two acre site (now College Road) for the creation of the College.

Sadly, Alfred died before he could give the land to the committee and so it passed on to his sons, Francis and Thomas.

Widespread Support

The brothers agreed to transfer the property to the committee when it was ready to build the college and by the end of 1904, local pottery, colliery and community leaders had promised to contribute around £10,000 towards the estimated £20,000 cost.

Staffordshire County Council, who needed a college to train elementary school teachers, agreed to give £12,500 to support the project should the council for the Extension of Higher Education match their funding.

Trentham Hall

With £10,000 already promised, a public appeal was planned to raise the remaining £2,500, however before it could launch the appeal, the Duke of Sutherland offered to give Trentham Hall to the county council for the purpose of higher education.

But, plans for the Trentham Hall based college faced widespread opposition. Firstly refused by the national Board of Education to teach elementary school teachers, pottery manufacturers and colliery owners also objected the proposed pottery and mining schools at Trentham due to poor transport links.

While planning stalled for the Trentham Hall College, a campaign to reform local government in the potteries gained momentum.

Formation of the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent

Realising the new County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent would take responsibility for education in the district Staffordshire County Council withdrew financial support for the North Staffordshire College and erected temporary mining and pottery schools on the site near the Stoke Station.

Parliament passed the Act creating the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1908 and the new authority came into being on March 31st, 1910. The county borough took over the educational services which had been provided by the County borough of Hanley, which ceased to exist, and those in Tunstall, Burslem, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton and Longton which had been run by Staffordshire County Council.

Take a closer look

Dated Decemeber 1910, the council notes stating Thomas and Francis Bolton had offered to donate the land their father had bought nine years previously can be seen below.

Changing Face of Education

Although impressed by the work done by students attending these schools, His Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools advised replacing the existing technical schools with a central school of commerce and a central school of science and technology to provide advanced level studies and two branch schools to run immediate courses.

The new authority’s education committee made plans to introduce a three tier system of further education using existing evening continuation schools, local technical schools and a new central school of science and technology with a mining department, a pottery department, a chemistry department and a physics department.

Central School of Science and Technology

Although nine years had passed since their father purchased the site in Victoria Road (College Road) and on November 18th, 1910, with Thomas consent, Francis wrote to the town clerk offering to give the land to the authority for the purposes of higher education.

Stoke-on-Trent accepted the Bolton brothers’ gift on December 7th, 1910. Costing £20,000 the Central School of Science and Technology was opened by Joseph Albert Pease, the President of the Board of Education, on April 20, 1914.