Victoria University (United Kingdom)

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Victoria University
Olim armis nunc studiis
Motto in English
'Formerly by weapons, now by studies'
TypeFederal public university
Religious affiliation
ChancellorCharles, 6th Earl Spencer (1903)
Vice-ChancellorAlfred Hopkinson (1903)
StudentsAround 2,600 (1903)
CampusUrban, three colleges

Victoria University was an English federal university established by royal charter on 20 April 1880 at Manchester. It was the fifth university founded in England, established as a university for the North of England open to affiliation by colleges such as Owens College, which immediately did so. University College Liverpool joined the university in 1884, followed by Yorkshire College, Leeds, in 1887. The university and the colleges were distinct corporate bodies until Owens College merged with the university in 1904. A supplemental charter of 1883 enabled the granting of degrees in medicine and surgery.


The aspirations of Manchester and Liverpool to become independent city universities meant that the Victoria University was short-lived. Liverpool left the university in 1903 to become the University of Liverpool; Leeds was granted its own royal charter in 1904 and became the University of Leeds; Manchester, the only remaining site, was granted a new royal charter as the Victoria University of Manchester.[1][2]

There was also a proposal that York be included: in 1903, F. J. Munby and others (including the Yorkshire Philosophical Society) proposed a 'Victoria University of Yorkshire'.[3] See University of York. In 1886 there had been a proposed scheme for the affiliation of other institutions including technical schools and literary and philosophical societies, which could have assisted the Yorkshire Philosophical Society's proposal, however nothing came of this.[4]

List of Colleges[edit]

Arms College Location Founded Joined the Victoria University Left the Victoria University Notes
Owens College Manchester 1851 1880 1904 Merged with the Victoria University in 1903, and became the Victoria University of Manchester in 1904. In 2004 merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology to form the University of Manchester.
University College Liverpool Liverpool 1881 1884 1903 Became the University of Liverpool in 1903.
Yorkshire College Leeds 1851 1887 1904 Became the University of Leeds in 1904.

Student Life[edit]

The Christie Cup is an inter-university competition between Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester in numerous sports since 1886. After the Oxford and Cambridge rivalry, the Christie's Championships is the oldest inter–university competition on the English sporting calendar. The cup was a benefaction of Richard Copley Christie, a professor at Owens College.



  • 1880–1887: Joseph Gouge Greenwood (also Principal of Owens College 1857–1889)
  • 1887–1891: Adolphus William Ward (also Principal of Owens College 1889–1897)
  • 1891–1895: Gerald Henry Rendall (University College, Liverpool)
  • 1895–1897: Adolphus William Ward (second term)
  • 1897–1901: Nathan Bodington (Yorkshire College, Leeds)
  • 1901–1903: Alfred Hopkinson (also Principal of Owens College 1898–1904; afterwards Vice-Chancellor of the Victoria University of Manchester until 1913)[5]



The armorial bearings of the Victoria University showed charges representative of the three colleges: Per pale argent and gules, a rose counterchanged, in dexter chief a terrestrial globe semée of bees Or, in sinister chief a fleece Or, in point a liverbird rising argent, beaked and membered gules holding in the beak a fish argent with the motto Olim armis nunc studiis ('Formerly by weapons, now by studies'). The globe and bees is for Manchester, the liver bird for Liverpool, the fleece for Yorkshire and the rose for the counties of Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose). The arms fell into abeyance in 1904 when those of Owens College were adopted for the Victoria University of Manchester.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charlton, H. B. (1951) Portrait of a University. Manchester: University Press
  2. ^ Thompson, Joseph (1886) The Owens College its foundation and growth: and its connection with the Victoria University, Manchester. Ch. XXIII (pp. 511–550) Manchester: J. E. Cornish
  3. ^ "The history of the Society". The Yorkshire Philosophical Society. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2006.
  4. ^ "Scheme for Affiliated Institutions – Administrative documents – Victoria University Archive – Archives Hub". Retrieved 1 September 2023.
  5. ^ Charlton, H. B. (1951) Portrait of a University, 1851–1951. Manchester: Manchester University Press; pp. 139–41
  6. ^ "The Victoria University". Edinburgh Evening News. 15 July 1880. Retrieved 4 April 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "The New Chancellor of Victoria University". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. 27 May 1892. Retrieved 4 April 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ "Manchester University". London Daily News. 5 February 1994. Retrieved 4 April 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ Victoria University of Manchester; Heraldry of the world