West Thames College
West Thames College is a medium-sized college of further and higher education. It has two campuses in the London Borough of Hounslow in the west of Greater London, England: a main campus in Isleworth and a smaller Skills Centre in Feltham. Over 6,500 students study at the college each year.
West Thames College was awarded a grade 2 "Good" rating at its last Ofsted inspection in March 2014, with some areas awarded a grade 1 "Outstanding". West Thames College also gained national Beacon Awards for Equality and Diversity in 2008 and 2009.
The college offers a wide range of A Levels and specialist vocational courses up to higher education level: BTECs, NVQs, City & Guilds, Foundation Degrees and HNDs.
The college has an excellent reputation for its creative arts courses, especially specialist makeup. Students have won the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) 5 times, beating competitors from around the world.
The main college campus in Isleworth includes the Grade II listed Spring Grove House – once the home of 18th century botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks – and modern buildings such as the Millennium Building (built 1999, refurbished 2008 and extended 2010), the Atrium Building (opened 2010) and the Sir Joseph Banks Building (opened 2011).
Facilities include the new 140-seat Endeavour Theatre; performance, dance and rehearsal studios; a professional Media and Music Centre with TV studio, recording and editing suites; hair and beauty salons which are open to the public; specialist makeup studios; sports and fitness centre with full-sized sports hall, gym and outdoor pitches; art and design studios; a Learning Resource Centre on three storeys with drop-in IT suites and extensive library; engineering workshops and science laboratories. There are also modern leisure facilities for students including spacious common rooms and cafes.
The Feltham Skills Centre was officially opened in 2003 by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. Around 650 students study practical vocational skills and training at the Skills Centre, including catering, plumbing, brickwork, painting and decorating, electrical installation, engineering, carpentry and motor vehicle maintenance.
Spring Grove House, a Grade II listed building which forms part of the college's Isleworth campus, was the main country residence of Sir Joseph Banks from 1779 to his death in 1820 (he purchased the freehold in 1808). Banks carried out scientific experiments in the grounds of the house and Queen Charlotte visited Banks and his wife there in 1813.
The first recorded house on the site was built around 1645. Elisha Biscoe bought this house in 1754, demolished it and built Spring Grove House. After Biscoe's death, his son leased the house to Banks.
Spring Grove House was substantially rebuilt and extended by its later owners, Henry Pownall in the mid 19th century and Andrew Pears in the late 19th century. It is an excellent example of late Victorian architecture and interior design, with a fine Georgian room as an added bonus. The ground floor rooms of the building were sensitively restored and redecorated in 2011.
In 1922 the house was purchased by Middlesex County Council. It opened in that year as the new site of Hounslow Polytechnic (renamed Spring Grove Polytechnic) which had been established in 1892 and had used premises in Hanworth Road. The following year Spring Grove Secondary School moved to the house, sharing the building with the Polytechnic who offered almost entirely evening classes.
In 1946 Spring Grove Secondary School became Spring Grove Grammar School. It moved to new premises in Lampton in 1959 and Spring Grove House was taken over by Isleworth Polytechnic as a full-time college. The college was renamed Hounslow Borough College in 1976. In 1993 the college acquired incorporated status and was renamed West Thames College.
Spring Grove House is open to the public one Saturday every September as part of Open House London.
- Anne-Marie Duff, actor (Shameless, Nowhere Boy, The Virgin Queen)
- Freddie Mercury, lead vocalist of Queen, studied at the college when it was known as Isleworth Polytechnic
- Rufus Sewell, actor (Zen, Pillars of the Earth)
- Martin Hancock, actor (Defiance, Coronation Street, Holby City)
- Celena Cherry, lead singer with the Honeyz
- Brothers Mark Morriss and Scott Morriss of the Bluetones