FOR almost two centuries Bolton has been home to the institution which became the University of Bolton in 2005.

The origins of the University stretch back through the decades — to the 1820s when the first mechanics’ institutes were built.

Bolton Mechanics’ Institute was the town’s first adult education organisation, built to meet the needs of a growing population.

The mechanics’ institutes movement aimed to reach the mass of working people and educate them in science and literature, raising the class as a whole by appealing to individuals’ desire for self-improvement.

Bolton Mechanics’ Institute, like others around the country, may not have achieved this aim but it was the bedrock of the Technical School, which opened in 1891 as the town responded to calls for technical education for working people.

The Technical School subsequently became Bolton Municipal Technical College in 1926, beginning a new chapter in Bolton’s further and higher education story which continued through the Second World War.

Post-war Bolton saw a huge expansion in further and higher education.

The town boasted a newly built Technical College in Manchester Road, the College of the Arts at Hilden Street and, in 1946, Bolton Training College was approved by the Ministry of Education. Bolton Training College eventually settled at Chadwick Street in 1959.

The 1960s saw the building of the Bolton Institute of Technology (BIT) in Deane Road, the development of Bolton College of Education at Chadwick Street, with Bolton Technical College remaining in Manchester Road.

And then more mergers: the Art College merged, first with the Technical College and then with BIT. In 1982, BIT and Bolton College of Education merged to form Bolton Institute of Higher Education.

The Institute received its own taught-degree awarding powers in 1992 and research degree awarding powers in 1995.

Throughout the 1990s, the number of degree subjects expanded enormously but always allowing for the special emphasis on theory and practice, developed in the 19th century, enhanced in the 20th century, and still at the heart of our unique university today as we celebrate the start of our 190th year.