West London Institute of Higher Education

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The West London Institute of Higher Education was located in Isleworth and East Twickenham, West London, UK from 1976 until 1995 when it became Brunel University College. It subsequently was fully integrated in 1997 into Brunel University. [1]

Lancaster House, Osterley campus


West London Institute was created in 1976 from the merger of Borough Road and Maria Grey teacher training colleges and Chiswick Polytechnic. Borough Road College, on the Osterley campus, dated back to 1889 in that location, and to 1798 in its previous home on Borough Road in Southwark. As a College of Higher Education from 1976, West London received funding from local government, and it had to perform adequately in the higher education sector. It was placed under the direction, as Principal, of a sport psychologist and former physical education lecturer, Dr. John Kane, and a geographer Murie Robertson, who served as Vice-Principal. It awarded undergraduate degrees (CNAA) and HNDs, and continued to train teachers, being, for example, a specialist 'Wing College' for Physical Education. Operating over two campuses, one on St. Margarets Road in East Twickenham, Middlesex alongside the River Thames, and the other one north on the Great West Road in Osterley, Isleworth. The Institute had a strong reputation for sport, and produced many outstanding performers, particularly in track and field athletics and rugby. The Borough Road name persisted on the rugby field and on the institute's sports strip.

The 1980s[edit]

By the 1980s the degree and diploma programmes at WLIHE were operating in a variety of disciplines. The Osterley campus was home to English Literature, History, Religious Studies, Geography, Geology, Business Studies, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Sports Studies, while the arts, music, and education were clustered two miles away at the old Maria Grey College site in East Twickenham. For a number of years, the College was affiliated to The University of London's Institute of Education and therefore offered University of London degree courses. By the 1990s the courses offered were mostly joint honours awards in various combinations including: American Studies, Drama, Art, French, Business Studies, English Literature, Geography, Geology, History, Religious Studies, Music and Sports Studies, plus single honours degrees in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Social Work. By the 1990s a few Masters programmes were also offered, for example in Sport Sciences (the first in Greater London), Social Work, and Environmental Change. A small number of PhDs were also awarded across the disciplines. The British and Foreign School Society [1] kept an archive and ran a National Religious Education Centre on the Osterley site. The Twickenham site also contained a ballet school, the Rambert. For its size and status (Higher Education colleges in the UK were not really expected to be high research performers), the Institute performed relatively well in research, with several departments achieving national recognition in the Research Assessment Exercises of the 1980s and 1990s (1992 result here), and a few staff held national research awards from the ESRC and other bodies.

The merger with Brunel University[edit]

For this reason a merger approach by the Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, Michael Sterling, went amicably – WLIHE had expertise and subject areas that Brunel did not. In 1995 WLIHE ceased to exist – for the next two years, its campuses and departments were known as Brunel University College, under the stewardship of a Provost, Prof. Eric Billett, and then simply Brunel University from 1997. This status prevailed for about six years, before Brunel decided to centralise all of its operations on its Uxbridge campus, 8 miles away. By this time, many departments had already moved from Osterley to Uxbridge. The East Twickenham campus – which contains several older buildings and has a riverfront location – was sold off in 2005 and has largely been demolished and converted into luxury housing. Its central building, Gordon House, has been on the market for two years at £15,000,000 after being sold once. It has been renamed Richmond House, even though it is not in Richmond.[2] The Osterley campus succumbed to the same fate in 2006 and is now a development of new and converted housing around Lancaster House, with the famous sports fields no longer operational (except for the athletics track which is now under private ownership).

The merger with Brunel was generally seen as a positive development by WLIHE staff, given the attraction of a University name for student recruitment and prestige. Almost all staff continued in their jobs, eventually moving to Uxbridge, although the greater expectation of research output at a 'proper' university forced a few into early retirement. In addition, Sterling's replacement, Professor Stephen Schwartz, later forced several Brunel staff into redundancy, closed the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, and merged several other groups. The Brunel merger ended most teacher-training activity (though not Physical Education particularly). The Rambert Ballet School went independent in 2003, citing financial and creative reasons for this move.


  • Paul Dickenson, GB hammer thrower (Olympian) and BBC commentator.[3]
  • Alan Pascoe MBE (1970) GB 400m hurdler; European & Commonwealth Gold 1974, Olympics Silver 1972; Chairman, Fast Track Events Ltd.
  • Alan Lerwill, GB long-jumper; Olympian and Commonwealth Gold 1974.
  • Caroline Strong, English stage and screen actress.
  • Fred Turok, founder of LA Fitness and of TAG (Transforming a Generation charity).
  • Ian Taylor (1976) GB Hockey goalkeeper and Olympic gold medalist
  • Kevin Bowring (1978) Wales National Rugby Union coach
  • Kathy Smallwood-Cook (1981) 13 medals at the Olympics, World, European and Commonwealth Games in Athletics
  • Dave Ottley – Javelin: GB Silver medallist, 1984 Olympic Games and Gold Medallist 1986 Commonwealth Games.
  • Peter Yates – Javelin: England Bronze medallist, 1978 Commonwealth Games.
  • Sue Hanscombe - Rowing, Women's double sculls, 1980 Moscow Olympics.
  • Paul Stimpson (1981) GB and England Basketball Captain and most capped player of all time
  • Mick Bett – England Basketball international.
  • Kolton Lee – England Basketball international.
  • Paul Honeyford, a successful author and linguist.
  • Greg Davies, stand-up comedian.
  • Kelly Sotherton, heptathlete, Gold Medallist 2006 Commonwealth Games (Melbourne), and Bronze medallist at the 2004 Olympic Games and 2007 World Championships.
  • Richard Hill (flanker) MBE, British & Irish Lions/England Rugby international.
  • Elgan Rees (wing three-quarter) British & Irish Lions/Wales Rugby international.
  • Steve Fenwick (centre three-quarter) British & Irish Lions/Wales Rugby international.
  • Steve Bates (scrum-half) England Rugby international.
  • Ben Johnston (centre) England Rugby international.
  • John Mallett (prop) England Rugby international.
  • John Olver (hooker) England Rugby international.
  • Moss Finn (centre) Ireland Rugby international.
  • Justin Fitzpatrick (prop) Ireland Rugby international.
  • Tarjei Park, theologian, author of The English Mystics (1998), and Selfhood and Gostly Menyng in some Middle English Mystics (2002).
  • Anthony Whiteman, World Student Games 1500m Champion (1997); double Olympian 1996 & 2000; current over-40s World Record holder for 800m.
  • Ian Tullett (1991) Commonwealth Games silver medal; pole vault
  • Iwan Thomas MBE, Silver medallist for 400m at the Commonwealth Games (2002); European 400m Champion (1998), Gold medallist in the 4 x 400m team at the European Championships (1998); Silver medalist in the 4 x 400m Relay at the Olympics (1996) and a member of the winning 4 x 400m relay team at the World Championships (1997); current TV presenter.
  • Dave Heaven, a musician.
  • Alberto Fabris, a musician.
  • Andrew Marshall, comedy writer, creator of "2point4 children"
  • Abi Ekoku, former Chief Executive of, and professional Rugby League player with, the Bradford Bulls; international Discus thrower (Commonwealth Games 1990).
  • Jason Wing. Olympic Bobsleigh team 1994 (European Silver medallist 4-man 1994), GB Students Rugby League and professional Rugby League player (Fulham and London Crusaders)
  • Courtney Rumbolt. Olympic Bobsleigh team & Bronze medallist from 1998 Winter Olympics (Nagano)
  • Dave Rotheram. St Helen's RL coach and Scotland RL Coach
  • Steven Callow. Professional rugby League player with Fulham RL
  • Roddy Smith. Scotland Cricket. CEO of Scotland Cricket
  • Bill Wynn. GB and England Decathlete
  • Jamie Quarry. Decathlete and Bronze medallist from Commonwealth Games 2002 (Manchester)
  • Fraser Lewry. Author of the book "Kittenwar", former The Guardian newspaper food writer and music journalist[4]
  • Fiona Dunscombe, award-winning author.
  • Denys Baptiste, a jazz musician.
  • Keith Power, GB Bobsleigher and Olympic Coach and High Performance Director at University of California, Berkeley
  • Prof. Dave Collins (1978) Professor of Sport Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, and former UK Athletics Performance Director.
  • Prof. Ichiro Watanabe, Tokyo City University, Japan Rugby Football Union Committee.
  • Prof. Greg Whyte – Professor of Exercise Physiology, Liverpool John Moores University, and former Olympic Modern Pentathlete, also winning World and European silver & bronze medals.
  • Prof. Peter Terry (1981) Director of Research Training & Development and Professor of Psychology, University of Southern Queensland (also former lecturer at WLIHE)

Former staff of some renown include:

  • Prof. Theo MacDonald, 1933–2010, academic and peace activist.[5]
  • Prof. Andrew Walker, Emeritus Professor of Theology, Culture & Education, King's College, University of London.
  • Prof Gavin D'Costa, theologian, University of Bristol.
  • Prof. Bill McGuire, UCL, geologist, TV presenter and author
  • Prof. Iain Stewart, University of Plymouth, earth sciences television presenter and geologist [2]
  • Prof. David Marsland, "new right" sociologist.[6]
  • Prof. Della Fish, Professor of Education, Swansea University[7]
  • Prof. Christine Bold, School of English & Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, Canada[8]


Personal account, S.Batterbury [3]