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History – Bath Spa University

The University builds on a proud heritage, with our origins dating back over 170 years.

The story of Bath Spa University begins in 1852, when the Bath School of Art was established after the Great Exhibition. The School enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading art schools in the country, and some of Britain’s best known artists, including Walter Sickert and Howard Hodgkin, studied and taught at what was to become the Bath Academy of Art.

In the immediate postwar era, the Bath Academy of Art relocated to Corsham Court, and was acknowledged as a leading British Art school, involved in the flowering of the English Modernist movement. This reputation for excellence endures today – graduates of the Bath School of Art, Film and Media and the Bath School of Design are sought after for their high standards of creative exploration and practice.

In 1983 the Bath Academy of Art became part of the Bath College of Higher Education, and moved to Sion Hill, whilst the College of Domestic Science moved to new premises at Newton Park. Corsham Court is now the home of the majority of our taught postgraduate courses and research centre.

The Newton Park and Sion Hill campuses began as teacher training institutions in the 1940s. Newton Park’s Main House, built for Joseph Langton from 1762-1765 set in Capability Brown gardens and leased from the Prince of Wales, is Grade 1 listed. The Sion Hill campus was built after the Second World War and became the home of the Bath College of Domestic Science in 1959. It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 23 March 1960.

Both colleges were highly regarded, beginning the University’s long-standing reputation for training high-quality professionals. The colleges merged in 1975 to become the Bath College of Higher Education. The School of Education is now one of the highest rated providers of teacher education in the country, and the largest provider of teacher education in the South West.

In 2016 the University purchased the former Herman Miller factory – a listed building designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in 1976 – in Locksbrook Road on the River Avon. Remodelling and refurbishment was again designed by Grimshaw Architects, and the building was opened as the Locksbrook Campus in October 2019. It was formally opened by then Chancellor, Jeremy Irons, in March 2020 and is the current home of the Bath School of Art, Film and Media and the Bath School of Design.

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