90 years of memories

Royal Charter of the University of ReadingThe year 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter of the University of Reading.

This exhibition looks back to the University of Reading's origins as a technical college for the people of Reading, and its journey towards independence. Find out about the men and women from 90 years of Reading's history who made the University what it is today.

The exhibition will be on display at the Special Collections Service from 5 July until 16 September 2016.

A further display, entitled War and memory, will be at the same venue until 20 December 2016. This exhibition will commemorate the role of the University and the town in the major conflicts of the twentieth century, and reflect on how we have since sought to remember those who served and died.

List of exhibits


  • The University Charter

The Charter was granted by HM King George V on 17 March 1926 [see image above].

  • Minute Book No.1 of the University of Reading Senate

The page opening shows the first meeting of Senate, held on 14 June 1926.

Student Life

  • Rules and customs for Women’s Halls of Residence, 1949 and for Wantage Hall, 1930.
  • The Rattler magazine, October 1931.
  • Dance cards belonging to Lucy Stafford, 1913-1914. Many of her contemporaries, including fellow students and her later husband Randolph Chell, served with distinction in the First World War.
  • SHELLS (Men Students’ Union of University College Reading) minute book, October 1912-May 1921.
  • Reading Students Hall Fees Campaign poster, 1971-72.

Academic Life

  • Allen Seaby’s illustration of 'The Starling' for the Ladybird book British Birds and their Nests, 1953, together with a copy of the book. Seaby was made Reading’s first Professor of Fine Art in 1920.
  • Edith Morley’s lecture notebook on literature, 1907-1908.

Edith Morley was England’s first female professor. She came to Reading in 1905 and, as the College expanded onto London Road, became Head of English Literature and Language and then, in 1908, Professor of English Language. Given an MBE for founding the Reading Refugee Committee, and active in the politics of women’s suffrage and local life, Morley was a true pioneer. She was also a strong character, prepared to stand up to her male colleagues when the need arose.

  • Reading College by W.M. Childs with a cover design by Walter Crane, 1898.
  • Britain and the British seas by H.J. Mackinder, 1902.
  • F. J. Cole’s notebooks inscribed “Classification adopted in History of Zoology”, undated.

Francis Joseph Cole joined the University College as a Zoology lecturer in 1906, and the following year was appointed the first professor of Zoology. Before he retired in 1939, he had built up a flourishing department, founded the Cole Museum of Zoology, and pursued his own research, including on the brain and cranial nerves of fish, and on the history of biology. As a senior member of staff, Cole worked actively to achieve the grant of the Charter in 1926. His magnificent library of early works on medicine and comparative anatomy forms one of the leading collections of rare books held by the University’s Special Collections.


  • Reading University Women’s Rowing Club

Blazer badge, 1926-28; photograph of the Sculling team 1921-22; Four Oared Contest programme, 1920s.

  • Reading University Association Football Union

Blazer badge, 1954-55.

  • Reading University Boat Club: Head of the River race

Programme, 1983; Chief Time Keeper’s memoranda and operational records, 1951-1962; Preliminary Time Sheet, 1936.

  • Reading University Association Football Club

Photograph of the 1st XI, 1931-1932.

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