Victoria University of Manchester

The Victoria University of Manchester (almost always referred to as simply the University of Manchester) was a university in Manchester in England. On October 1 2004 it merged with UMIST to form a new institution called the University of Manchester.



The university began in 1851 as Owens College (named after John Owens), a textile merchant who left a bequest of £96,942 for the purpose. It moved to its current location in 1873, and was granted its Royal Charter in 1880, becoming the first institution of the federal Victoria University. In 1884, University College Liverpool joined the University, followed, in 1887 by the Yorkshire College in Leeds.

In 1903, the University's college in Liverpool left the Victoria University to become the independent University of Liverpool and Leeds followed in 1904 to become the University of Leeds. The remaining Manchester site was renamed Victoria University of Manchester.

It was commonly known as the University of Manchester, and had over 18,000 full-time students (including 2500 international students from more than 120 countries) by the time it merged with UMIST. It was one of the top universities in the country, regularly getting top ratings for research and teaching.

On March 5 2003 it was announced that the University was to merge with UMIST on October 1 2004, to form the largest conventional university in the UK. The new institution is simply called the University of Manchester. In legal terms both the Vicoria University of Manchester and UMIST ceased to exist when the University of Manchester came into existance on October 1 2004.

Motto and Arms

The motto of the university was "Arduus Ad Solem", literally meaning "striving towards the sun". It is a metaphor for aspiring to enlightenment. The motto is a quote from Virgil's Aeneid, but the archives do not record the reasons for its choice. In the Aeneid, the quote refers to a serpent and the sun, both of which feature in the university coat of arms.

Manchester Science Hall of Fame


  • John Henry Poynting. Student 18671872 (one of the very first students in the new Physical Laboratories). Lecturer 18761879. Left to become Professor at Mason College (which became Birmingham University). He wrote on electrical phenomena and radiation and is best known for Poynting's vector. In 1891 he determined the mean density of the Earth and made a determination of the gravitational constant in 1893. The Poynting-Robertson effect was related to the theory of relativity.
  • Ernest Rutherford. Langworthy Professor of Physics 19071919. Awarded Nobel prize in 1908, for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements and the chemistry of radioactive substances. He was the first man to split the atom.
  • James Chadwick. Student (BSc & MSc) and Researcher 19081913 (under Rutherford). Discovered neutron and awarded Nobel prize 1935.
  • Hans Geiger, Researcher 19061914. Did the original "Rutherford scattering" experiment with Marsden (also the Geiger-Marsden experiment). Devised the famous Geiger ionization counter.
  • Sir Ernest Marsden was born in Lancashire in 1888. He won scholarships to attend grammar school and gain entry to Manchester University. It was here he met Rutherford in his honours year. Rutherford suggested a project to investigate the backwards scattering of alpha particles from a metal foil. He did this in conjunction with Hans Geiger (of Geiger counter fame), and it proved to be the key experiment in the demise of the plum pudding model of the atom leading directly to Rutherford's nuclear atom. Rutherford also recommended Marsden for the position of physics professor at what is now Victoria University in Wellington.
  • Niels Bohr. Research Staff and Schuster Reader 1911–1916. Worked on structure of atom and first theory of quantum mechanics. Awarded Nobel prize in 1922.
  • William Lawrence Bragg. Director (Langworthy Professor of Physics) 19191937. Won a Nobel prize for X-ray crystallography in 1915, along with his father, William Henry Bragg. Their work led to the first discoveries of DNA and protein structures, which were made by Watson/Crick/Wilkins/Rosalin Franklin (DNA) and Kendrew/Perutz (protein) in Bragg's research group in Cambridge.
  • Nevill Francis Mott. Lecturer 19291930. Awarded Nobel prize in 1977, for his fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems.
  • Hans Bethe. Research staff and Temporary Lecturer 1932. Awarded Nobel prize in 1967, for his contributions to the theory of nuclear reactions, especially his discoveries concerning the energy production in stars.
  • Patrick M. Blackett 19371953. Director and Langworthy Professor of physics. Awarded Nobel prize for developing cloud chamber and confirming/discovering positron in 1948.
  • George D Rochester discovered strange particles in 1947 with Clifford C Butler. C C Butler co-discovered strange particles in 1947. Went on to be head of department at Imperial College and then VC at Loughborough.
  • Sir Arthur Eddington. Graduated in 1902 and became a lecturer in 1905. Founder of modern Astronomy. He made important contributions to the general theory of relativity and led an expedition team to validate it.
  • Sir Bernard Lovell, Professor (19511990) and creator of the giant radio-telescope (the first large radio-telescope in the world with a diameter of 218 feet) at Jodrell Bank and pioneered the field of radio astronomy.
  • Arthur Schuster, Langworthy Professor of Physics (18881907), who made many contributions to optics and astronomy. Schuster's interests were wide-ranging: terrestrial magnetism, optics, solar physics, and the mathematical theory of periodicities. He introduced meteorology as a subject studied in British universities.
  • Henry Moseley, who identified atomic number as the nuclear charges. He studied under Rutherford and brilliantly developed the application of X-ray spectra to study atomic structure; his discoveries resulted in a more accurate positioning of elements in the Periodic Table by closer determination of atomic numbers . Moseley was nominated for the 1915 Nobel Prize but was unfortunately killed in action in August 1915 and could not receive the prize.
  • George de Hevesy, Research Staff 19101913, who won the Nobel prize in 1943 for his work on the use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes.
  • Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, studied mathematics under Horace Lamb in 19141915, and received BSc and MSc in Electrical Engineering at the Tech (UMIST), won the Nobel prize in physics in 1951 for his pioneering work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles. Chancellor of UMIST. and Director of BAERE ( Manhattan Project Hall of fame ).
  • Sir John Lennard-Jones, entered Manchester University where he changed his subject to mathematics in 1912. After First World War service in the Royal Flying Corps, he returned to Manchester as Lecturer in Mathematics, 19191922. Founder of modern theoretical chemistry. Lennard-Jones potential and LJ fluid are named after him.

Physiology and Medicine

  • Archibald Vivian Hill, Brackenburg Professor of Physiology, 19201923. won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1922 for his discovery relating to the production of heat in the muscle.


Nobel Prize Winners from Manchester Chemistry (Dates of awards in brackets):

  • Arthur Harden (awarded nobel prize in 1929), for investigations on the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes.
  • Walter Howarth (awarded nobel prize in 1937), for his investigations on carbohydrates and vitamin C.
  • Robert Robinson (awrded nobel prize in 1947), for his investigations on plant products of biological importance, especially the alkaloids.
  • Alexander Todd (awarded nobel prize in 1957), for his work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes.
  • Melvin Calvin (awarded nobel prize in 1961), for his research on the carbon dioxide assimilation in plants.
  • John Charles Polanyi (awarded nobel prize in 1986), for his contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes.
  • Michael Smith (awarded nobel prize in 1993), for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleiotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies.


  • Sir Arthur Lewis (1979) for his pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries.
  • John Hicks (1974) for his pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory.

Computer Science & Mathematics

  • Alan Turing, founder of computer science and AI. ACM Turing award is named after him.
  • Paul Erdös, was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century or the Euler of our time, who posed and solved many problems in number theory and other areas. He also founded the field of discrete mathematics, which is the foundation of computer science. He was one of the most prolific mathematicians in history, with more than 1,500 papers to his name (Leonhard Euler was second in the list). In his early career, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at Manchester University and subsequently became a wandering mathematician. With no job, no home and his few clothes in an orange carrier bag, he would arrive at colleagues' houses, declare "My brain is open" and stay. Awarded the Cole Prize by AMS.
  • James Lighthill, was one of the most influential applied mathematicians of the 20th century. He made important contributions to the modern developments in theoretical aerodynamics and aeroacoustics (Lighthill's eighth power law) and was one of the founding fathers of the field of biofluiddynamics. He is also founder of IMA.
  • Osborne Reynolds is famous for his work in fluid mechanics. In 1886 he formulated a theory of lubrication and three years later he developed the standard mathematical framework used in the study of turbulence. The 'Reynolds number' used in modelling fluid flow is named after him (his students include JJ Thomson, who discovered the electron).
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein who is best known for his work in philosophy undertook aeronautical research in Manchester. Needing to understand more mathematics for his research he began a study which soon involved him in the foundations of mathematics.
  • Louis Mordell was a pure mathematician who made important contributions in number theory.
  • Sydney Goldstein was one of the most influential theoretical fluid mechanicians in this century. He is best known for his work in boundary layer theory where the "Goldstein singularity" is named after him.
  • Lewis Fry Richardson was a scientist who was the first to apply mathematics, in particular the method of finite differences, to predicting the weather (the father of CFD). He made contributions to calculus and to the theory of diffusion, in particular eddy-diffusion in the atmosphere. The "Richardson number", a fundamental quantity involving gradients of temperature and wind velocity, is named after him.
  • Sir Horace Lamb was one of the six professors appointed when Manchester University received its Royal Charter (his chair was in Mathematics, and Osborne Reynolds was given the Chair in Engineering). He made many important contributions to applied mathematics, including the areas of acoustics and fluid dynamics. His book "Hydrodynamics" (first published in 1895) was for many years the standard text on the subject and is still essential reading for serious researchers in fluid mechanics. It could be said that Lamb's main field of research was solid mechanics, and he made careful studies of the vibrations of spherical bodies which aided understanding in seismology. Research on waves in layered media led to the discovery of "Lamb Waves".
  • Bernhard Neumann spent more than a decade in Manchester. He is one of the leading figures in group theory and has influenced the direction of the subject in numerous ways.
  • Max Newman made many important contributions to combinatorial topology, Boolean algebras and mathematical logic. He directed the famous Colossus code-breaking operation in the war.
  • John Littlewood is famous for his work on the theory of series, the Riemann zeta function, inequalities and the theory of functions. He held a lectureship at the University of Manchester from 1907 to 1910.
  • Harold Davenport is another distinguished number theorist who worked in Manchester as a contemporary of Paul Erdös and Louis Mordell.
  • Kurt Mahler spent several periods of his academic life at Manchester. Major themes of his work were p-adic numbers, p-adic diophantine approximation, geometry of numbers (a term coined by Minkowski to describe the mathematics of packings and coverings) and measure on polynomials.
  • Brian Hartley is best known for his work in group theory. His book Rings, Modules and Linear Algebra (written with T. O. Hawkes) is a widely used undergraduate text.
  • Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams invented the Williams-Kilburn Tube and the first modern electronic computer in the world, the Manchester Mark 1.
  • Sydney Chapman, developed important theory on thermal diffusion in highly ionized gases, magnetic storms, instability along magnetic neutral lines, noctilucent clouds and the fundamentals of gas dynamics.
  • Edward Milne, a leading figure in the study of radiative equilibrium, the structure of stellar atmospheres, theory of relativity and the interior structure of stars. President of London Maths Society.
  • M. S. Bartlett, professor of mathematical statistics from 1947 to 1960 made important contributions to the analysis of data with spatial and temporal paterns. He is also known for his work in the theory of statistical inference and in multivariate analysis.

See also

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