In pictures: Then and now, science and engineering at Manchester
Heritage 9th September 2020
With COVID-19 and social distancing continuing to impact how we live, work and study, campus could like quite different for the beginning of the new academic year.
Here in the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), however, we’re no stranger to change. Sifting through some of the University’s fantastic image collections (Luna and Manchester Digital Collections), we wanted to highlight just how much things have changed over the past 100 years and more – comparing then, to now…
George E Davis (left) is widely regarded as the ‘father of chemical engineering’ after creating the academic discipline in 1887 at the Manchester Technical School – a history that the Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science can trace back through UMIST. The Department today is based in the James Chadwick Building, one of the largest purpose-built pilot scale laboratories in Europe.
When Sackville Street Building first opened in 1902, its beautiful Entrance Hall was lined with carved marble statues. Today, the space is decorated whenever it stages an event – such as the highly-anticipated (and illuminating) Buggy Race, held by the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering each year.
Lab coats, it seems, have always been a requirement for chemistry at Manchester; the facilities and equipment available to our students, however, have evolved quite noticeably over the past 75 years or so!
The photograph of the impressive spinning room to the left – located in Sackville Street Building – was taken during the Second World War. Fast forward to today and students in the Department of Materials are still getting hands-on with an extensive range of equipment – only now with more digital assistance.
Renold Building has always been a striking feature of North Campus, from its construction in the 1960s through to today (above it provides the backdrop to the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering‘s annual barbecue). The pond at the bottom of the left image, however, is one feature of North Campus that hasn’t survived.
The home of mathematics at Manchester has changed drastically down the years. While the old Maths Tower rose high above Oxford Road, the £43 million Alan Turing Building – opened in 2007 – was designed with input from both maths academics and students to provide an optimal learning environment.
The Schuster Building, completed in 1967, has housed the Department of Physics and Astronomy for many years. Students today can also benefit from the specialist equipment and enhanced learning spaces provided by the recently-opened Schuster Annexe.
Students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences have long called the Williamson Building home, but today have access to an extensive range of specialist equipment – not to mention the opportunity to go on field trips both in the UK and around the world.
Manchester has always been at the forefront of computer science, a quickly-evolving subject where technological advancement never stands still – especially when it comes to moving robots!
We finish our trip down FSE memory lane with a look to the future. On the left we have experimental engines in the Engineering Department at the turn of the 20th century; on the right we have the Manchester Engineering Campus Development – or MECD as its widely known – which will be our new home of engineering when it opens its doors in 2022.
A symbol of progress for a Faculty that’s always looking ahead – and doesn’t forget the past.
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Words: Joe Shervin
Images: Joe Shervin, The University of Manchester, The University of Manchester Library
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