University Reform and College Expansion

Many factors led to wide-scale reform of Oxford University in the second half of the 19th century, and there was a corresponding rise in student numbers. These factors included the impact of the industrial revolution, and the need for administrators, academics and lawyers in the British Empire. Ancient rules were relaxed, and new subjects and examinations were introduced. Trinity was one of the first colleges to build an engineering laboratory, and followed this with the appointment of a tutor and demonstrator in Chemistry.


A particularly dynamic figure in Trinity at this date was John Percival, who was elected President in 1878. Percival was a keen supporter of women’s education, a strongly evangelical Christian, and an enthusiastic reformer. He responded to the needs of the growing student body by the creation of the Front Quadrangle. The open and spacious aspect of this quadrangle, unique in Oxford, is owed to the imaginative plans of the Victorian architect Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. Known today as the Jackson Building, a new accommodation block was opened to house undergraduates in 1883-5, and soon afterwards Kettell Hall and the Broad Street Cottages were brought into the college precinct. The Cottages were originally workers’ houses; they were almost entirely reconstructed in the 1960s.


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