People

Benjamin Heywood

Benjamin was a wealthy banker and philanthropist and head of the Heywood Bank in Manchester. An enthusiast for worker’s education, Benjamin was President of the Mechanics’ Institution from 1825-40 and also President of the Manchester Statistical Society. Benjamin was the father of Oliver Heywood, both founders of the Mechanics’ Institution.

Photograph courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councils

Oliver Heywood

Oliver Heywood was a banker and philanthropist like his father and was an avid supporter of educational and healthcare facilities around Manchester including the Manchester Mechanics Institution and Owen’s College. Oliver, whose statue currently stands in Albert Square, was a President of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institution.  

Photograph courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councils

William Fairbairn

William Fairbairn was a Scottish engineer who moved to Manchester in 1813. He had a very scientific approach to engineering, which was unusual for the time. He was one of the original 11 founders and elected as the first Secretary of the Mechanics' Institution. 

Photograph courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councils

John Dalton

John Dalton is most famously known as the father of Atomic Theory but he also had a scientific interest, and made contributions, in the fields of meteorology, gases and colour blindness, of which he was a sufferer. He was one of the original 11 founders of the Mechanics’ Institution and in 1940 became its Vice President.

Photograph courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councils

Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth became a mechanic in Manchester and later moved to the engineering works of Henry Maudslay in London. Whilst there he devised a method for making metal planes very accurately, which were a prerequisite for high-precision engineering. He returned to Manchester and established a business making machine tools such as lathes, which were in high demand during Manchester’s industrial growth. On his death, Whitworth left most of his money – about £900,000, or £55 million in today’s terms – to Trustees who were instructed to give the money to causes he had deemed important. Some of this money funded many places we recognise today; Whitworth Park, Whitworth Art Gallery, the Technical School which is now known as Sackville Street Building and Whitworth Hall on the South Campus. 

John Henry Reynolds

Appointed to the Institution in 1879, Reynolds came to the Institution with flagging student numbers and growing debts. He focused on subjects that served the industrial needs of Manchester and in 1883 converted the Mechanics' Institution into the Manchester Technical School. In 1888, Reynolds further expanded the classes that the Technical School provided to include skills such as spinning and weaving. By 1891, Reynolds had seen the student population rise seven-fold to around 3,800.

George Edward Davis

Credited with the establishment of chemical engineering as a discipline, George Edward Davis was a lecturer at Manchester School of Technology. Here he gave a series of 12 lectures that lay the foundations for his Handbook of Chemical Engineering in 1901 which was used for many decades afterwards as an essential guide to chemical engineering. 

John Douglas Cockcroft

John Douglas Cockcroft was the son of a mill owner in Todmorden. He studied mathematics at Victoria University of Manchester and served in WWI. On his return he studied electrical engineering at Manchester Municipal College of Technology before becoming a college apprentice at Metropolitan-Vickers, a local engineering company. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 with Ernest Walton. They created the first proton accelerator and used it to bombard lithium atoms. The result produced helium atoms, which was the first artificial nuclear transformation and a potential source of many new isotopes. 

Roy Chadwick

Roy Chadwick was born at Farnworth in Lancashire and educated at the Manchester College of Technology. Fascinated with flying machines from an early age, he worked with Alliott Verdon-Roe, aviation pioneer and founder of Avro. Chadwick’s genius for aircraft design was recognised after WWI and his Avro Avian became famous for the record breaking flights from England to Australia. His greatest triumph was the Lancaster Bomber, capable of carrying a ten-ton bomb and used extensively during WWII. 

Bertram Vivian Bowden

In 1953 scientist Bertram Vivian Bowden became principal of the Municipal College of Technology. Bowden had previously worked with Ernest Rutherford at Cambridge and also with Wattson-Watt on radar development during the Second World War. Bringing energy, drive and creativity to the post, Bowden revolutionised the college and oversaw its development in to an institution of advanced research and teaching. Under his leadership the number of students studying degrees more than tripled to a total of 3500, and echoed the success of his predecessor, John Henry Reynolds in the 1890s. 

Harold Hankins

Professor Harold Hankins was appointed Principal in 1984 and became UMIST's first Principal and Vice Chancellor in 1994. It was during Hankins’ tenure that UMIST developed into a major international research based university.