History of Teesside University

80 years of innovation in education

80 years and University of the Year in 2010 - happy birthday Teesside University.

It's an honour ...
Jane Gardam

Jane Gardam, Doctor of Letters, bestselling author

“I was born locally and my father taught Mathematics at the Constantine College. Seeing the University’s growth when I came to collect my honorary degree was amazing and moving.”

Our archive celebrates the University's early years. We became one of the first new universities in June 1992.

Originally founded as Constantine College, the institution was officially opened by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, on 2 July 1930. The college became a polytechnic in 1969; and in 1992, the Privy Council gave approval to 14 higher education institutions, including Teesside, to become new universities.

The campus in the centre of Middlesbrough still includes the original Constantine College building but the University has grown more than twenty-fold.

An infant Hercules comes of age

Middlesbrough was famously described by Prime Minister William Gladstone as an 'infant Hercules' when he visited the booming town in the 1860s and saw the dynamic capital of iron and steel-making. The population rose from 19,000 in 1861 to 138,000 by 1930.

A technical college to support Middlesbrough's engineering, bridge and shipbuilding industries was first mooted in 1914. But World War One and the need to raise capital delayed developments until local shipping magnate, Joseph Constantine and his family, offered a contribution of £80,000.

The first students were enrolled in September 1929 but the fanfare formal opening by the then Prince of Wales was in 1930. He said the college would "play a great part in the future development of the great industries on which the prosperity of Middlesbrough and this district largely depends."

The early years

The early years were very successful, with student numbers double the 700 anticipated. They grew to 2,211 by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Until the mid 1960s, Constantine was both a further and higher education college with some students as young as 15.

Jim Leonard's book, Constantine College, published by Teesside Polytechnic in 1981, shows from the start debate raged about whether Middlesbrough needed a university.

At first, Constantine College concentrated on metallurgy, engineering and chemistry. Later, mathematics and computer science became major strengths. When relaunched as Britain's 13th polytechnic in 1969, there were 17 degree courses and 600 postgraduate students.

Constantine College was constrained by lack of accommodation so in the late 1960s, the former High School (now the Waterhouse Building) was acquired. Work on the 11-storey 'skyscraper' started in 1963. The Clarendon Building followed in 1973, the Stephenson Building in 1976 and in 1978, Teesside Polytechnic merged with Teesside College of Education and Flatts Lane was acquired.

Campus 200

During the early 1970s, there were plans for a student village, stretching from Borough Road to Albert Park - a dream now fulfilled with the Library and other Campus 2000 developments on the south side of Southfield Road. And the new Phoenix and Athena buildings expand the campus even further.

Leaving local authority control in 1989 signalled renewed growth. In the 1990s student demand exceeded residential resources, leading to new halls of residence being built on Woodlands Road and overlooking Albert Park.

Becoming a University

University status in 1992, and the appointment of Professor Derek Fraser as Vice-Chancellor, led to greater emphasis on expansion. New degrees such as Criminology and Computer Graphics attracted students from further afield and helped Teesside gain an international reputation in niche markets.

As student numbers swelled to 8,000 on the eve of university status in 1992, it was clear the library would need replacing. The new Library opened in 1997, followed by the Innovation Building (now Stephenson Building) in 1998. The Centuria Building and the Centre for Enterprise opened in 2000.

The noughties

The Athena - 4,000 square metres of studio space for computing, design and media students - and Phoenix which is home to the Institute of Digital Innovation - opened towards the close of the noughties.

In 2010 Centuria South opened - a showpiece dental education and sports therapy complex - followed by expansion into Darlington with a University site in 2011.