History of UWE published

Issue date: 19 November 2009

Book cover A history of the University of the West of England which delves into the complex family tree of UWE and its deep roots in Bristol and the community is to be published by Redcliffe Press this month.

With more than 60 black and white illustrations and eight pages of colour photographs,
University of the West of England, Bristol – A Family History is by William Evans, one-time UWE solicitor and amateur local history enthusiast. It is a story of religion, politics, public spirit, self-interest and struggle. In telling the story, it focuses on issues such as how far education should be vocational, for example 'to prepare students to become skilled mechanics' and linked to the world of work; and how access to higher education has been widened. These are not only historical themes, but are reflected in current government thinking about the 'purpose' of universities. It also looks at religious mores and their influence on student life in the early 20th century.

Bill Evans says, “This story is indivisible from histories of Bristol itself - as a community, a commercial city and regional capital. The challenges which the University and its predecessor institutions have faced mirror aspects of the city's own history. For those who care about Bristol, and the future of education, I hope this will be a thought-provoking read.

“I've been writing bits and pieces of this book over several years. Most of the work was from archives and secondary sources, including some recent events. But it was surprising how little has been written about how education developed in Bristol, and what influenced it: religious sectarianism, local politics, commercial self-interest, cultural aspiration, and a lot of pure accident.

“What struck me most were the individuals, not many of them well-known, who pushed for and brought about change – for all sorts of reasons, often nothing to do with education – which they were able to do because of a complete lack of civic leadership and planning until after the 1939-45 war. I never thought I'd come across Henry VIII, Charles Dickens, Prince Albert, Florence Nightingale, Brunel, Gladstone and a couple of famous modern artists as well as the usual local suspects.”

This is a lively and sometimes acerbic commentary on the history of Bristol's newer, and larger, university that will be both thought-provoking and entertaining.


Editors notes:

University of the West of England, Bristol – A Family History by William Evans
Published by Redcliffe Press, November 2009
Softback: ISBN 978-1-906593-50-6
With more than 60 black and white illustrations and eight pages of colour photographs.

Copies cost £20.00 (special offer price of £17.50 for pre-publication orders).

For further information or to order a copy contact: The Vice-Chancellor's Office, UWE, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol. BS16 1QY. Tel: 0117 328 2456; Fax: 0117 328 2774 or e-mail: william.evans@uwe.ac.uk

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