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Jewish Burial Grounds

Old (or Velho) Beth Chaim Cemetery for Spanish and Portuguese Jews Sephardic Jews was established in 1657, shortly after Oliver Cromwell allowed the resettlement of Jews in England. It was closed in 1752. The remains of the cemetery are now situated behind Mile End Place, and Albert Stern House (now a Queen Mary Halls of residence, but formerly an old people's home for Sephardic Jews). The Nuevo (or New) Beth Chaim Cemetery for Spanish and Portuguese (Sephardic) Jews was established in 1725 and in use from 1733. It was in use until 1920. Much of the cemetery was excavated 1974, the remains were reclaimed and interred in the grounds of a hall of residence in Brentwood. What remains of the cemetery is part of the original Nuevo cemetery, and is located next to the Mile End Library.


Bancroft's Hospital and Almshouses

1727, Francis Bancroft died and under terms of his will he provided the Drapers Company Trustees with funds to establish an almshouse for '24 old men' and a school for 100 boys.  1728, the Bancroft’s Hospital and Almshouses were founded and subsequently administered by the Drapers Company. 1737, the Almshouses and school were opened on the north side of Mile End Rd. The school was open to boys from 7 to 14 years old.  At 14 years old they were expected to enter apprenticeships. c.1800, the School of Bancroft’s Hospital started to admit boarders. 1875, the Drapers Company Court of Assistants resolved that 'it would be expedient that Bancroft’s School be removed from its present site' and advised the rebuilding of the almshouses, arguing that it was doubtful that the maintenance of the almshouses constituted a very eligible form of charity. 1879, Drapers Company prepared a scheme and negotiated with the Charity Commission regarding the future of the school.


Beaumont Institute 1841-1882

1840, John Thomas Barber Beaumont acquired a property in Stepney with the intention of establishing a Philosophical Institution. 1841, he died and endowed the 'Beaumont Institute' with £300 a year and a trust fund of £13000. 1879, the Beaumont Institute closed. Local criticism developed about the way the Trust had been administered. Sir Edmund Hay Currie was approached for assistance in mobilising the Trust, set up by Barber Beaumont. 1882, a charitable scheme was established under Sir Edmund Hay Currie for the 'benefit the inhabitants of Beaumont Square and the surrounding neighbourhood'.


Publications on poverty in East London

1875, Octavia Hill (1838-1912) published Homes of the Poor and in 1877 Our Common Land, which drew attention to the living conditions of the poor. 1882, Walter Besant published the best selling novel All sorts of conditions of Men – An Impossible Story.  The novel tells the story of young man and woman who devote their lives to the people of the East End and plan to build a Palace of Delight, with concert halls, reading rooms, picture galleries, art and designing schools. Other accounts of the poverty included a penny pamphlet, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, published in 1883, featured anonymous accounts of the London slums. Arthur Morrison (1863-1945), who worked as a clerk at the People’s Palace 1886-1890, in 1896 published A Child of the Jago, a story about children growing up in East End slums.


People's Palace Project

1882, Sir Edmund Hay Currie became Chairman of Trustees of Beaumont Trust and a meeting took place at Mansion House in support of the project. It was intended that the institution would provide educational advantages like those of City of London College, evening classes, a library, reading rooms and recreational activities. July 1884, a meeting took place to publicise the intentions of the Trustees of the Beaumont Trust and seek local support. It was held at Bethnel Green Museum, and was attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. 1884, the Charity Commissioners agreed to the Bancroft's Schools scheme, namely to move the school out of London. The site of the Bancroft Hospital was therefore available. 1885, the Drapers Company agreed to sell the site of the Bancroft's Hospital to the Beaumont Trustees. May 1885, the Drapers Company Court of Assistants resolved to grant £20000 for the provision of the technical schools of the People’s Palace. The Drapers Company subsequently paid for the gymnasium and south front buildings. June 1885, a meeting of Beaumont Trust took place concerning the proposed People's Palace at a Mansion House. The Prince of Wales attended and  expressed deep interest in scheme. November 1885, the first public appeal for funds for proposed People's Palace was circulated. 1886, E.R.Robson was appointed architect for People's Palace and drew up the first proposed design. June 1886, the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the Queen’s Hall. September 1886, Bancroft's School left Mile End Rd and moved to Woodford site.

May 1887

May 1887, Queen Victoria opened the Queen's Hall and laid the foundation stone of the People's Palace Technical Schools.

June 1887

June 1887, the Library foundation stone was laid.


1888, the Queen's Hall was equipped with an organ and the library and swimming baths were completed.

10 October 1888

10 October 1888, the People’s Palace Journal (Vol II) referred to the ‘Whitechapel Murders’, and commented that 'champions of ‘Women’s rights’ had written to newspapers arguing that the Whitechapel murders were in some way connected with the lenient sentences passed on men who had brutally ill treated women. ‘There does not seem to be much in this argument but it is true that men guilty of the most shocking cruelty to women are constantly sentenced to utterly inadequate terms of imprisonment…that a man who steals a few turnips is far more severely punished than a man who kicks his wife’s head open’.


1890, the Clock tower was erected. 1891, the Gymnasium was completed. 1892, Winter Garden was completed.


Drapers Company undertook to contribute £7000 a year to the Palace for 10 years. The Master of and Clerk to the Company and five persons appointed by it, were to become members of the People’s Palace Governing Body.


August 1892, John Leigh Smeathman Hatton (1865-1933) was appointed Director of Evening Classes (-1896). Shortly after his appointment the introduction of a course of study for the London B.Sc. degree was proposed, and proved successful. Mr Low, Headmaster of the Day School was tasked with introducing the degree in 1894. Hatton became the Director of Studies at East London Technical College (later known as East London College) in 1896, and in 1908 he became the Principal of East London College (-1933).


The Drapers Company donated £5000 for the construction of a separate engineering laboratory and workshop.


The People’s Palace Technical Schools became East London Technical College with John Hatton as Director of Studies. The College comprised of three departments: Day School, for boys aged 13 to 16 years old; Day classes for male and female students with courses in engineering, chemistry and art etc.; Evening classes for students preparing for the examinations of the University, of the Science and Art Department and for entry into the Civil service. Additional classes in trade and commercial subjects were also provided.


The Bow and Bromley Institute was amalgamated with the People’s Palace and teaching continued there as a branch of East London Technical College until 1911, when it was closed.


The first degrees of the University of London were awarded and Hatton, Professors Hewitt, Lehfeldt, Low, J.T.Morris were recognised as teachers of the University of London.


The Library furnishings and collections were transferred to the Mile End Old Town Vestry Building for the public library, and the People's Palace Library stood empty. 1909, the Library was converted into a Recreation Hall, and remained as such until 1920.


Evening arts course were instituted and staff were appointed to teach English, French and Classics.

East London Technical College changed its name to East London College and its objects were redefined to promote higher educated in East London.


A Resolution was passed to make an application for recognition of the College as a School of University of London and the day school closed.


East London College was admitted as a School of the University of London for a period of 3 years. The Drapers Company allocated grant of £2000 to the College.


The Students’ Union Society were established.


The Professorial Board was instituted and the Faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering established.


With the financial support of P.Y. Alexander an aeronautical laboratory was established, and the Aeronautical Society was founded.  A.P.Thurston was responsible for research under the auspices of the Laboratory Committee of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. Thurston gave a series of public lectures at the College on aeronautics. The lectures comprised,  ‘Flying machines’ (on 14 June), ‘Balloons, airships and kites’ (23 June), and ‘The mechanical principles of flight’ (30 June).


The first issue if the East London College Magazine was published. The Students Union produced 3 different magazines over the years. The East London College and Queen Mary College Magazines ran until 1936 when they were replaced with the Leopardess, which ran until c.1971. A third magazine and newspaper, Cub was started in 1946 and still runs today.

Also in this year, an application for permanent recognition as a School of the University of London provided successful and the College was awarded that status for period of 5 years.


The Council of East London College were established as a Governing Body distinct from that of the People’s Palace.


A chemistry building was built with funds from the Drapers Company.

28 July 1914

Outbreak of World War One, 28 July 1914.


The Senate resolved to admit East London College as a School of the University of London in the Faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering.


The College accepted a proposal that it should admit London Hospital Medical College students preparing for the preliminary medical examination.

During the war years student and staff numbers decreased. The College asked the police to inform them by telephone when zeppelins were approaching London. In February 1918 the Principal reported that air raids had made it difficult to continue with evening classes.


A preliminary course in engineering and science was established for men who wished to enter the services as pilots. The College applied to the University of London for the establishment of a chair in aeronautics, but the application proved unsuccessful.


College secured Beeleigh, Hermon Hill, Snaresbrook on short lease as hostels for women students.


The People's Palace agreed that the College might use rooms under the winter garden for a chemical laboratory and handed over the old library (Octagon) which had been used as a recreation hall since 1909.


D.N.V.Piercy was awarded a grant from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, in support of the aeronautical laboratory.


A common room for women students was opened as the College refused to agree to a mixed common room.


A war memorial (1914-1918) was opened in the Library (Octagon).


The College purchased Forest Lodge at Whipps Cross, and converted it into a hostel for women students (1924-1937).


The first student President was appointed.


The College purchased Elmshurst to house women students.


The gymnasium was converted into a theatre and lectures on dramatic technique were started to assist in the development of a School of Drama.


Professor MacGregor Morris recommended the establishment of a high voltage laboratory in the University of London and the Central Electricity Board welcomed a proposal to set one up at East London College.


May, the Duke and Duchess of York visited the chemistry building.


April, the College Council asked the Drapers Company for advice on an application to Privy Council for a Charter.


The University agreed to grant of £10000 for a high voltage laboratory, but plans were deferred.


A Special Committee was appointed on the development of the College. The Chairman of the Governors of the People Palace and the Council of the College advised that the People's Palace and East London College be amalgamated. He also advised that the Governors of the People's Palace and the Council of the College apply for a Royal Charter.


25 February 1931, the Queen's Hall was destroyed by fire. The hall had been used for a boxing display until 11pm. By 3am on 25 February a fire had been reported. The Hall was completed destroyed and the roof collapsed inwards, but the College and Winter Garden were virtually unscathed.

The Palace Governors asked the College for suggestions for reconstruction. The College emphasised the growing prestige and demand for the education offered, and highlighted the need to expand the teaching facilities. The College asked the Palace to hand over the site of the recreational activities, so that additional teaching facilities could be developed. At the same time the College were planning to apply for a Charter. The Drapers Company agreed that recreational and educational work should be separated.

The People's Palace resolved that it would hand over the whole of the site and buildings occupied by the Palace, to the College, in exchange for the St Helen's Terrace site, which would house a new People's Palace building.

November 1931-March 1932

Nov 1931 to March 1932, the Charity Commissioner's Public Inquiry into the fire in the Queen's Hall took place. The findings supported the plan to grant the St Helen's Terrace site for a new People's Palace, and handover the Queen’s Hall and forecourt, winter garden and small hall to the College.

March-November 1932

March 1932, the Drapers Company undertook to acquire the leases of St Helen's Terrace on behalf of the College and in November 1932 agreed to provide £10000 on behalf of East London College for rebuilding the People's Palace.


Major General Sir Frederick (Barton) Maurice, became Principal of East London College and Queen Mary College, (1933-1944).


Dr Piercy was conferred the title of Reader in Aeronautics.


The name of the College changed, from East London College to Queen Mary College and the Charter of Incorporation of Queen Mary College was granted.

In the same year the Hatton Lecture Theatre was completed, and the Electrical engineering block was under construction.

March 1936

March, Foundation stone of new Peoples Palace laid by Lord Mayor.

May 1936

The high voltage laboratory opened in the converted college theatre. The aeronautical laboratory, with its wind tunnel, previously under the college theatre, was moved to the old electrical engineering premises.


Dytchleys in Brentwood was acquired by the College with support from the Drapers Company, for use as a residence and sports ground.

February 1937

February, George VI opened the People's Palace, in his first public appearance as King.


The west block opened on land previously housed by the winter garden.

May 1938

May, Lynden Hall was opened as a new womens' hostel residence by Queen Mary.


The College was warned that the main building would be requisitioned in the event of war.


May 1939, the Academic Board was warned that in the event of an emergency the College would be transferred to Cambridge. Male students would go to Kings and female students to Girton. June 1939, Kings Provost welcomed male students (90) and the staff and Mistress of Girton welcomed (80) female students.

1 September 1939

The outbreak of World War II occurred.

2 September 1939

September the 2nd Battalion of Tower Hamlets marched into the College. Occupation became so intense that the Principal’s office had to be moved to King's College.


By the end of the year the College was occupied by 350 officers and men of the Kings Royal Rifles.


250 officers and men of Auxiliary Pioneer Corps arrived to assist the clear up of East London. After July Stepney Borough Council became tenants. Dytchleys was taken over by the Essex Education Committee, Lynden Hall by the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and Elmshurst was used as the headquarters of the Anti-Aircraft Brigade.


St Benets Church was bombed.


College buildings suffered damage in air raids including destruction of the west lodge, serious damage to the clock tower and to the East Lodge.

October 1943

October 1943, a bomb fell at Gates Corner and Elmshurst and Lynden Hall were damaged.


July 1944, a flying bomb fell in the grounds of Mile End Hospital near the main block, causing damage to most of the College buildings and the roof of the high voltage laboratory. December 1944, Lynden Hall was further damaged by a blast.


Prof Benjamin Ifor Evans became Principal of Queen Mary College (1944-1951).


October 1945, the College reopened in London. Two hostels were opened, but Dytchleys sports ground and the library were not available in the first term.


Geography and Geology were established as separate departments. An agreement was made between the London Hospital Medical College and Queen Mary College to a lectureship in engineering physics, which would be partly based in the Department of Radiotherapy at the London.

May 1946

May 1946, the College agreed to make an offer for the site of St Benet's Church and Vicarage.


Demolition of the former site of St Benet's Church took place.


Sir Thomas (Percival) Creed (1897-1969) became Principal Queen Mary College (1951-1967).


University Grants Committee gave a grant for the purchase of the People's Palace and in January 1954 it was acquired by the College.

June 1953

Sir George Nelson opened the nuclear particle laboratory.

4 November 1960

4 November 1960, the House of Commons announced that a licence could be granted to set up a nuclear reactor at the Marshgate Lane site.

May 1964

May 1964, installation work for Marshgate Nuclear Reactor Critical Assembly was completed.

August 1965

In August 1965, criticality, 'critical mass in nuclear reactions' was achieved at Marshgate nuclear reactor.

July 1966

July 1966, nucleonics laboratory completed.


Sir Harry Melville Principal Queen Mary College 1967-1976.

April 1968

April 1968, the report of the Royal Commission on Medical Education (Todd Report), recommended the association of St Barts Medical College and the London Hospital Medical College with Queen Mary College.

2 May 1968

2 May 1968, the new central computer centre was opened in the mathematics building by Lord Mountbatten.


In 1973 The Queen Mary College Act was passed "to authorise the disposal of the Nuevo Burial Ground in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and to authorise the use for other purposes of the site thereof..." This Bill enabled the College to purchase the Nuevo Spanish and Portugese (Sephardi) Jews of London Burial Ground, with the exception of a restricted area which was leased from the London Sephardi Trust for 999 years. A contract was signed with the London Necropolis Company Ltd for the disinterment of 7000 human remains, that had been buried up to approximately 1850. By October 1974 the remains had been reinterred in a plot of land near Dytchleys student hostel (Brentwood).


Sir James (Woodham) Mentor became Principal Queen Mary College (1976-1986).


June, the Nucleonics Reactor at Marshgate was closed.


The Faculty of Science at Westfield College was transferred to Queen Mary College.


The Jarratt Committee Report was published. The Jarratt Report was the report from the Steering Committee for Efficiency Studies in Universities, chaired Sir Alex Jarratt. The report responded to the growing need for universities to provide evidence of efficiency and accountability for public funds, and impacted widely on the management of universities.

June 1985, the University Grants Committee set an expenditure limit of over £7 million for proposals to move preclinical teaching from the Medical Colleges to Queen Mary College, for the provision of buildings for teaching, accommodation.


Professor Ian Butterworth became Principal of Queen Mary College (1986-1990)


The new clinical and pre-clinical buildings opens at the College for medical science.


Westfield College merges with Queen Mary College. Queen Mary and Westfield College is incorporated by Royal Charter. The Queen Mary and Westfield College Act, 27 July 1989 states: “Act to transfer to Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London all rights, properties, assets and obligations of Queen Mary College and Westfield College and to dissolve those colleges…”


Professor Graham Zellick became Principal of Queen Mary and Westfield College (1991-1998).

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