Cliff College

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Cliff College is a Christian theological college in Calver, Derbyshire, that teaches Biblical Theology at the undergraduate level and a number of mission courses to postgraduates. There are currently about 50 full-time undergraduates, 80 part-time undergraduates and 100 part-time postgraduates. There are also a number of research (MPhil and PhD) students and full-time postgraduates enrolled at the College. College courses up to and including MA level are validated by University of Manchester, and students at higher levels are jointly enrolled at both institutions.


Cliff College traces its roots back to 1883 in Bolton Lancashire, when Reverend Thomas Champness took a number of men into his home in order to train them. Shortly afterwards they all moved to Castleton Hall, Rochdale being known as "The Joyful News Training Home and Mission". On the expiration of the lease on Castleton Hall, the work moved to its present site in March 1904. Prior to this the premises at Curbar, Derbyshire had been used by Henry Grattan Guinness, who moved students from Harley College, in Bromley-by-Bow to Derbyshire. The institution was known as "Hulme Cliffe College" after Elizabeth Hulme, who had donated "Cliffe House" in Curbar, Derbyshire, England to further Guinness's work, this work was transferred back to London in 1902. The premises were purchased by the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1903, to house the Joyful News Training Home and Mission, and the name was changed to "Cliff College". Today the college trains and teaches undergraduate and post-graduate students at their campus in Calver, Derbyshire.

In the later 19th Century, many of the college's graduates worked with Hudson Taylor and his China Inland Mission as missionaries. Many present day Cliff College graduates choose to do Christian missionary and evangelistic work both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

The Wesleyan Methodist Minister and theologian, Samuel Chadwick, was principal of the college from 1913 to 1932.

See:- Weekly newspaper "Joyful News" issues 22nd February 1883 to December 1914, "The Guinness Legend" Michele Guinness 1990, "The Life Storyu of Thomas Champness" E M Champness 1907, "The Story of Cliff" W Fiddian Moulton 1928, "Cliff More Than a College" G Howard Mellor 2005.


Since the summer of 2008, the Principal of Cliff College has been Chris Blake. Walter Riggans has served the college as Academic Dean since July 2015, and other members of faculty are George Bailey, Kirsi Cobb, Carolyn Edwards, Steve Emery-Wright, Ben Pugh, Justin Thacker and Ian White.

Most of the undergraduate degrees and all of the MA degrees are validated by the University of Manchester.The current student leadership team (SLT) is led by the president, Rebekah Balsdon.


Each year, over the May Whitsun Bank Holiday (late bank holiday in May), the collegeholds an annual all age Cliff Festival event which includes worship , bible study, a variety of seminars, entertainment and outdoor activities led by tutors of the college, as well as outside guests. The festival is held on the college's campus in the Hope Valley of the Peak District National Park, near Sheffield and Chesterfield. Details of the event can be found on the website: and on the Cliff Fest Facebook page.

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Coordinates: 53°15′44″N 1°37′36″W / 53.26222°N 1.62667°W / 53.26222; -1.62667