Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering

Our History

Our History

This year we are celebrating 150 years since the College of Physical Science was established at Newcastle. The College was created to support the growing science and engineering needs of the region. The college started the journey to today's Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering.

1832 - 1871

From Medicine, Chemistry starts to emerge as a stand alone subject area

  • 1832 Six local medics start to give instruction to a small group of students. From this fledgling medical school, Chemistry starts to establish as a subject in its own right
  • 1867 Professor Algernon Freire-Marreco is appointed head of the School of Chemistry

1871 - 1887

College of Physical Science established

  • 1871 College of Physical Science is founded as a separate entity to the Medical School, teaching Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Geology
  • 1882 Professor Peter Bedson becomes Head of Chemistry. Bedson undertook pioneering work in the chemistry of coal, where his investigations into wet oxidation lead to new methods in extraction

1887 – 1945

Agriculture and Engineering established

  • 1887 Construction of a new college begins
  • 1891 William Somerville is the first Chair of Agriculture
  • 1891 R L Weighton is the first Professor of Engineering and Naval Architecture
  • 1893 William Steadman Aldis appointed as Professor of Maths
  • 1896 Northumberland County Agricultural Experiment Station, as Cockle Park was then known, hosts the famous Palace Leas experiment. Still running today, this is the longest running grazed grassland experiment in the world
  • 1904 New building completed and named after local industrialist and patron Lord Armstrong in recognition of his support and reputation
  • 1904 The College of Physical Sciences was renamed Armstrong College in 1904
  • 1909 University status acquired as part of Durham University
  • 1910 A small Honours School in Pure and Applied Mathematics is instituted
  • 1912 Local vet Clement Stephenson endows a chair of Comparative Pathology and Bacteriology and paid for a new building for the Department of Agriculture, with the balance coming from the Ministry of Agriculture
  • 1913 Marine Honours degree introduced
  • 1920 Future Nobel Prize winner Professor Walter Haworth appointed Professor of Organic Chemistry
  • 1937 Armstrong College renamed to King’s College
  • 1945 Department of Civil Engineering established
Construction of the Armstrong Building started in 1887

1945 - 2002

University farms, Engineering grows, Computing begins

  • 1945 Post-war shipbuilding industry booms. Growth in student numbers leads to ship model towing tank and propeller cavitation tunnel being installed
  • 1945 Adoption of the farms: Department of Agriculture takes over the lease of Nafferton farm, and Cockle Park farm moved from Northumberland County Council
  • 1946 Work begins on the Bedson Building to house chemistry
  • 1947 Post-war technological developments mean Electrical Engineering is growing rapidly. The need for larger experimental facilities sees a move from the Armstrong Building to an empty Presbyterian Church
  • 1950 Martin Fleischmann begins his teaching career in electrochemistry at the College
  • 1951 Stepehenson Building opens, the first post-war engineering building in universities of this country
  • 1952 Maths is led by Professor AE Green FRS in Applied Mathematics and Professor WW Rogosinski FRS in Pure Mathematics. Teaching of statistics as separate discipline starts, a move ahead of most other UK universities
  • 1954 Chemical Engineering is formalised, having previously been offered as an option within Mechanical Engineering degrees. Professor John Metcalf Coulson is appointed Head of Department and an MSc course begins
  • 1955 First students admitted to a BSc Chemical Engineering course
  • 1955 Cassie Building opened and houses Civil Engineering
  • 1956 George Chambers appointed to the first Chair of Marine Engineering
  • 1957 Computing laboratory founded serving a dual function, providing computing support as well as taking an academic role
  • 1963 Robin Plackett appointed as the first Professor of Statistics
  • 1966 Department of Marine Engineering created
Adopted in 1945, the University farms remain essential to both teaching and research

Science City, Singapore, and investment

  • 2004 Science City status given to the city of Newcastle by the Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • 2008 Opening of the Wolfson Chemical Nanoscience Laboratory
  • 2008 Undergraduate teaching in Singapore commences with students on Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering courses
  • 2011 Dedicated outreach laboratory opened in the School of Chemistry
  • 2011 Expansion of Singapore undergraduate teaching with first students on Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Engineering, and Chermical Engineering degree courses
  • 2013 First students recruited to undergraduate Electrical Power Engineering degree course in Singapore
  • 2015 Awarded Principal Partner status with Siemens offering increased levels of support for R&D and graduate recruitment
  • 2015 Ground broken on £58m Urban Sciences Building
  • 2016 £20m EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration announced
  • 2016 Government announces investment in the £15m National Innovation Centre for Data in Newcastle
  • 2017 Urban Sciences Building opens. Delivered on time, on budget.
  • 2017 Newcastle Research & Innovation Institute opened in Singapore
  • 2018 Science Central renamed Newcastle Helix

Water Security Hub, The Stephenson Redevelopment