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 and started the journey to today's Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering at Newcastle University.

1832 - 1867

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 - 1882

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 led 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 College 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 also renamed Armstrong College
  • 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 is renamed to King’s College
  • 1945: The Department of Civil Engineering is established
Construction of the Armstrong Building started in 1887

1945 - 1966

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. The Department of Agriculture takes over the lease of Nafferton farm and Cockle Park farm is 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: Stephenson Building opens, the first post-war engineering building in universities in the 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

2004 - 2018

Science City, Singapore and substantial 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 chemical 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 the new £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: The Urban Sciences Building opens. Delivered on time and on budget
  • 2017: Newcastle Research & Innovation Institute (NewRIIS) opens in Singapore
  • 2018: Science Central renamed as Newcastle Helix

2019 - Now

Water Security Hub and the Stephenson re-development