Queen Mary is in a residential area to the east of the City of London. This part of London played a major part in the history of industrial and working-class England. Charles Dickens and Jack London wrote about the poor of East London in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the early seventeenth century, the Whitechapel and Mile End Roads were studded with charitable sites, both educational and for the poor, two of which occupied the site of the present University. A statue near the University marks the spot where the Salvation Army was founded in 1865. Many immigrants to Britain came first to this part of London: two old Jewish cemeteries lie east and west of the University. The Grand Union Canal passes to the east of the University and down to the old Thames docklands, which have now been vigorously redeveloped into a major financial and shopping centre.
The University began life as 'The People's Palace', a cultural and recreational centre for the population of the East End of London. It offered a swimming pool, donkey and pony rides, flower shows, concerts and evening classes. In 1892, the educational side of the People's Palace became the East London Technical College under the direction of the Rev. J.L.S. Hatton, a pupil of the geometer J.J. Sylvester. Through his efforts, the University became a School of London University - the first postgraduate student in mathematics at the University began work in 1906. Westfield College in Hampstead amalgamated with the University in summer 1989, and in 1995, the medical schools of the Royal London Hospital and St. Bartholomew's Hospital were formally merged with the University.
The modern growth of the mathematics department began with the appointment of G.C. McVittie in 1948. The subsequent appointments of V.C.A. Ferraro and K.A. Hirsch in 1951/2 led to the creation of the Applied and the Pure sections of the department; the Astronomy Unit was established in 1983. Astronomy in Applied and Algebra in Pure developed into major research centres of world renown. In 1967 the mathematicians moved into their purpose-built Mathematics Building beside the Mile End Road, together with Queen Mary's first computer. The School of Mathematical Sciences building has undergone major refurbishment following an £18m transformative project, which was aimed to create an inspiring, collaborative space for the School community. The building now features high-quality teaching rooms, a new lecture theatre and various facilities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The School of Mathematical Sciences was originally formed in 1984 under the headship of Professor I.W. Roxburgh. Originally, it was an amalgam of the former departments of Applied Mathematics and Pure Mathematics, with the slightly later transfer of the Statistics group from the then Department of Computer Science and Statistics. Our staff members come from all over the world and many staff, who have retired, now hold emeritus status at Queen Mary and are still very active in research, both within the School and the University.