45. In t’Back Streets, Behind Tech: the Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology

These images show the construction of the Main Building, part of Bradford Institute of Technology (BIT), which later became the University of Bradford.

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962 (archive ref UNI B01)

BIT was created in 1956 as a College of Advanced Technology, hiving off higher education from the College; in 1966 the Royal Charter made it a University. BIT’s short life was dominated by the need to find space for expansion: growing numbers of staff and students and better facilities for research and teaching at this higher level.  The Main Building was part of the solution.  Eventually the Institute and the local council decided to expand the campus into the surrounding back streets, rather than move to a greenfield site as had been suggested.

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963 (archive ref UNI B02)

As we see here, this required the demolition of many houses, with painful impact on the many people who had to move.

Main Building completed, September 1964

Main Building completed, September 1964 (archive ref UNI B10)

Main Building took four years to complete, beginning in May 1960, and was formally opened by Prime Minister and first Chancellor of the University Harold Wilson on 11 June 1965.  Now known as Richmond Building, it has housed University administration, many academic departments and student facilities, and is probably the most visible and recognisable University building even today.

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965 (archive ref UNI PHW4)

(The title is taken from a quotation in Robert McKinlay’s The University of Bradford: origins and development).

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6 responses to “45. In t’Back Streets, Behind Tech: the Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology

  1. Pingback: 46. Digital Objects are Special too: Our 40th Birthday Cake | 100 Objects

  2. I went to the university in the early to mid 1990s and I have often wondered what the area looked like before the university was created – I assumed it was similar houses to the ones I lived in Grove Terrace and Grantham Place but could never find any photos. Are there any more that you can publish or any more information? Maybe there are some older Bradford residents who might know more?

    • Hello, thanks for your comment. Yes, we do have some other photos showing the old houses coming down. I’ll pop them all online when I get time and let you know the link. I don’t know much more but I imagine that Local Studies and the Archives service will have more information. Newspapers of the time and oral histories of the city.

  3. Thanks for the reply Alison, looking forward to seeing the photos when you have a chance to send me a link. It’s a very interesting site.

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