Loughborough Technical Institute – and the Birth of a University

Loughborough Technical Institute was established by the County Education Committee in 1909 to provide day and evening classes in science, technology and art for local workers. Headed by its principal – Mr S C Laws – and two full time members of staff, the college was housed in the small block of rooms on the corner of Ashby Road and Greenclose Lane. In September 1915 the Institute appointed a new principal, Herbert Schofield, a former engineering apprentice from Halifax who’d won a scholarship to the Royal College of Science and earned degrees in mechanics, mathematics and physics. Schofield’s appointment came just months after the passing of the Munitions of War Act with its call for an increased supply of weaponry for the troops at the Front. At a time when other institutes were training workers through lectures, Herbert Schofield had the idea of providing hands-on instruction in a factory setting. His offer was accepted and the Institute was given a contract to produce 18-pounder HE shells.

By January 1916 the Instructional Factory was ready for its first trainees. They worked a forty-hour week in groups of as many as thirty. By the end of WW1 more than 2300 machine tool operators had been trained at the Loughborough Instructional Factory, the majority of them women. Loughborough Technical Institute would continue to train engineers after the end of World War 1, becoming Loughborough College in September 1918.

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