IM Marsh Building

History

The History of LJMU

Liverpool John Moores University has come a long way from its origin as a Mechanics Institute back in 1823. Now one of the largest institutions in the UK, we have firmly established our place in the world as a modern civic university with a vibrant, innovative community of staff and students.

We are proud of our status within the city of Liverpool – of our partnerships with long-standing cultural institutions and our influence on the cityscape with new state-of-the-art buildings becoming modern landmarks.

We appreciate where we’ve come from yet we're always looking forward. Read about some of our key moments in our rich and varied history:

  1. 1823

    Mechanics' School of Arts established.

    The initial course of lectures begin, they are in: mechanics, arithmetic and ship drafting.

  2. 1832

    Mechanics' School of Arts re-named Mechanics' Institute

  3. 1833

    The Liverpool Mechanics Institute holds a convention to demonstrate the daguerreotype (one of the first photographic processes), placing the Institute at the forefront of technology. 

    The range of courses taught at the Institute extends to include history, languages and classics.

  4. 1844

    Charles Dickens attends a party at the Institute in which he gives a speech. 

    Tickets for the event sell at the price of about 3s 6d (£7.72 today).

  5. 1848

    Robert Williams becomes the first former student from the Institute to gain a degree. He receives a £200 grant to study in London and is awarded a degree in Mathematics. 

  6. 1860

    The School of Art is home to the largest public collection of ancient and modern art in the UK outside of the galleries of London and Edinburgh.

  7. 1861

    The Liverpool School of Science is founded.

  8. 1875

    The FL Calder College of Domestic Science is one of the independent institutions which eventually merges to become Liverpool John Moores University. Upon witnessing a poverty-stricken Liverpool, FL Calder comes to the realisation that the residents need help and guidance on how to live on 'a few shillings' a week. She believes that teaching those willing to cook would raise the standard of living in the city.

  9. 1883


    Women are permitted to enrol in the School of Art for the first time.

  10. 1900


    IM Marsh campus founded by Irene Mabel Marsh, one of the pioneers in British physical education, as a Physical Education Teacher Training College for Girls.

  11. 1913

    The Student Union is formed.

  12. 1916

    The Nautical College becomes a department of the Central Municipal Technical School. The College is recognised for its support of the war effort, including training marine engineers, running Ministry of Munitions training schemes and coaching disabled veterans.

  13. 1939-1945

    The war disrupts day-to-day life on campus. In the School of Art, sandbags and reinforcing beams replace pieces of art on display and following the discovery of an undetonated bomb, fire watching replaces classes. The war effort, both at home and away reduces the number of students attending classes.

  14. 1950

    The School of Humanities and Social Science becomes certified to offer degree courses.

  15. 1954

    The School of Commerce undergoes a £65,000 extension of its Tithebarn Street campus making it the largest site for business outside of London.

  16. 1958

    The John Moores Bursary is established by Principal William L Stevenson who taught John Moores to paint.

  17. 1959

    A painting by Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bassist in the Beatles, is accepted by the Liverpool College of Art to be displayed at the John Moores Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery. After the exhibition, Moores himself bought Sutcliffe's “Summer Painting” for £65. It is reported that Stuart spent the money he earned to buy a guitar.

  18. 1970

    Liverpool Polytechnic forms with the amalgamation of the Regional College of Art, Regional College of Technology, College of Commerce and College of Building, the courses within the institution aim to address the practical element of education required by employers.

  19. 1971

    The School of Science develops a department for Physical Education. The department will develop into a leading internationally renowned research institute and will become the only sport and exercise science department in the UK designated as a Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

  20. 1980

    The University’s art department designs swimwear for athletes participating in Moscow Olympics at the request of Adidas.

  21. 1988

    Becomes one of the first institutions to be accredited for research by the CNAA (Council for Academic Awards).

  22. 1989


    Phil Redmond, television producer and screen writer best known for creating three of Britain's longest running drama programmes: Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, becomes an Honorary Professor of Media.


    In the days following the Hillsborough disaster, staff members and students open a helpline to assist callers affected by the tragedy.

    The Education Reform Act is passed, which allows the Polytechnic to become a separate entity from the government. To celebrate, a coat of arms with the phrase 'Audentes Fortuna Juvat' (Fortune Favours the Bold) is adopted.

  23. 1991

    Liverpool College of Nursing and Midwifery amalgamates with Liverpool Polytechnic.

  24. 1992

    Granted university status. Liverpool John Moores University officially opens to students from England and around the globe. The University takes its name from businessman and philanthropist Sir John Moores. Born into a working class family in Salford, John Moores turned his love of football into a business empire based in Liverpool that was worth millions of pounds.

  25. 1994

    University purchases the lease for the 125 year old North Western Hotel to convert to student accommodation.


    Aldham Robarts Learning Resource Centre opens. Designed by architectural firm Austin-Smith:Lord it has won numerous architectural awards including the Civic Trust Awards and the RIBA Award for Architecture.

  26. 1997

    Avril Robarts Learning Resource Centre opens. It is designed by the architect firm Austin-Smith:Lord.

    Inaugural lecture in the Roscoe Lecture series. Inspired by William Roscoe one of the city's most illustrious citizens, the Lecture series aims to preserve his legacy by bringing the brightest minds to Liverpool John Moores to discuss issues around the topic of citizenship.

    Foundation for Citizenship launched. It aims to promote the development of ethical students and an ethos of citizenship in the wider community.

    Along with the University of Liverpool and Hope University, Liverpool John Moores is admitted to the Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions of the City Of Liverpool. The award recognises the great educational, social and economic benefits the University brings to the city.

  27. 2000


    Maritime Knowledge Hub opens. The Hub houses a 360 degree ship simulator which gives students hands-on experience controlling a variety of ships in different weather conditions.

  28. 2004


    His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivers a Roscoe Lecture on citizenship entitled 'Secular Ethics' to 2,000 people at the Anglican Cathedral. He then becomes an Honorary Fellow of the University.

  29. 2007

    World of Work programme launched to ensure that every student is equipped with the skills they need to stand out from the crowd and successfully engage in the world of work. The programme is supported by leading companies including Sony, Siemens, Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Mail, BT, United Utilities, Bosch and many others.


    Awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of LJMU’s astronomical excellence and public engagement in science for the development of the world’s largest and most sophisticated ground-based robotic telescope.

  30. 2008

    Ranked top amongst modern universities in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for Electrical and Electronic Engineering, General Engineering, Sports-Related Studies and Architecture and Built Environment, plus we demonstrated world-leading research in 70% of our disciplines.

    Dr Brian May CBE, lead guitarist of rock band Queen and Doctor of Astrophysics, succeeds Cherie Booth as Chancellor.

  31. 2009

    The John Lennon Imagine Awards are established with a generous donation from Yoko Ono to support those in care or estranged from their families wishing to pursue higher education.


    Tom Reilly Building opens. Designed by architects Austin-Smith:Lord, it provides world-class Sports and Exercise Science facilities. The building was named after the UK's first Professor of Sports Science.

  32. 2010


    The Art and Design Academy wins a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award.

  33. 2011

    Copperas Hill postal sorting office is purchased by the University for future expansion.

    The University opens the International Study Centre; the Centre offers courses for international students who wish to progress onto degrees at LJMU as well as English language courses for students who have been accepted onto undergraduate or postgraduate programmes here.

    Professor Nigel Weatherill becomes the University's third Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive.

  34. 2012

    Completion of the £37 million Redmonds building housing the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies, including the Liverpool Screen School.


    Olympian and three times world champion gymnast Beth Tweddle MBE receives an Honorary Fellowship - a former sports scholar, Beth received her degree from the University in 2007.


    Named one of the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years of age by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

  35. 2013

    Roscoe Lecture Series - Liverpool John Moores University

    The Right Honourable Sir Brian Leveson is installed as the University’s fifth Chancellor.



    Becomes a Principal Partner of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for a two-year sponsorship commitment which provides opportunities for students to learn about and appreciate classical music.

    Corporate Charities Initiative launched to help raise the prominence of local campaigns and provide opportunities for staff and students to get involved with local projects.


    The Art and Design Academy is renamed to John Lennon Art and Design Building in memory of one of its most famous students.

  36. 2014

    REF 2014 results: LJMU is one of the highest climbers in the national Research Excellence Framework, now ranked 61st for world-leading and internationally excellent research. Our School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is ranked as one of the most outstanding research departments in the United Kingdom.

    World’s first lung biosimulator for inhaled drug testing is launched by University spin-out company, Pulmorphix.

    Named UK's most gay-friendly university in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2014 list, which showcases Britain's best employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.

  37. 2015

    A plaque commemorating Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein is unveiled at his birthplace, 4 Rodney Street, a building owned by LJMU.

    LJMU, in partnership with Santander, hosts Europe’s biggest student enterprise conference.

    For the first time astronomers, including Dr Richard Parker, of the Astrophysics Research Institute at LJMU, have caught a multiple-star system as it is created, and their observations are providing new insight into how such systems, and possibly the solar system, are formed.