Looking back, to move forward

Looking back, to move forward

As Stockport College takes a leap into its next stage of life, having merged with Trafford College to form the Trafford College Group and the upcoming redevelopment project, we take a look back at where it all began.

Why was Stockport College built? What did we bury under the cornerstone? And what is our connection to turtle soup? As our £24m redevelopment gets underway, we look back at our opening ceremony in 1888.

The United States and Germany were gaining technical knowledge that had kept Britain at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Something had to be done. So when an act of parliament was passed in 1888 requiring businesses to pay a levy for technical education, Stockport Mayor Sir Joseph Leigh seized on the idea. He proposed the construction of the town’s first technical college.

Leigh wanted the College finished to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Within a year of its inception, Stockport Technical College opened its doors to its first intake of more than 1,000 students in science, technology, art, commerce, literature and domestic economy, on September 8, 1889.

Town hall dignitaries marked the occasion with a celebratory six-course meal of turtle soup, salmon, game, lobster, champagne jelly and pastries, and commemoratively buried a bottle containing letter pledging a £10,000 donation, copies of the local newspaper, a medal, coins and a brass plaque under the cornerstone.

To date we’ve had several unusual finds during our building work at Stockport College over the years, unearthing this time capsule in 1971. Today’s £24m redevelopment will see the construction of a new business centre, the modernisation of existing buildings, a new visitor entrance, courtyard and new pedestrian routes and campus access.