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The College of St Gregory and St Martin at Wye, more commonly known as Wye College, was an educational institution in the small village of Wye, Kent, England, 60 miles (100 km) east of London in the North Downs area.
Founded in 1447 by John Kempe, the Archbishop of York, as a college for the training of priests, in 1894, the school moved to new premises, and the South Eastern Agricultural College was established in the buildings with Alfred Daniel Hall as principal. In 1898, Wye became a School of Agriculture within the University of London. Until 2005, Wye College was a well-known study and research centre in the fields of rural business and management, biological sciences, and the environment and agriculture. The college was officially closed by its then owner, Imperial College London, in September 2009.
Today, buildings that formerly housed Wye College have been repurposed as the Mind Campus in Withersdane Hall, a substance abuse rehabilitation clinic, and Wye School, a school for children of year seven and up. The main campus and several other buildings have been owned by Telareal Trillium since 2015 who are developing a masterplan involving some new housing.
Academic and learning centre
The Wye campus developed from 1894 until 2000. It occupies a 3 km² estate, which includes a farm, managed woodland, and ancient grassland for agroecological research. These resources were augmented by glasshouses, climate-controlled growth rooms for plants and insects, and a containment facility for transgenic plants that supported laboratory-based research. There were dedicated laboratories for plant molecular biology, genomics and gene sequencing, electron microscopy, use of radiochemicals, microbiology, soil analysis, and plant/animal cell culture. Some of these lab facilities were removed by Imperial College. There were student halls and other buildings dotted around the village.
In 2000, Wye had students from 50 countries, 477 undergraduates, 259 MSc and PhD students, 200 on short courses, and an External Programme had 975 mid-career professionals registered from 120 different countries. Its numbers had peaked around 1995 but were sustained; the External Programme was growing Wye College lost its status as a College within the federal University of London and merged with Imperial and was renamed Imperial College at Wye. The reasons stated were a depression in the agricultural industry, affecting this small specialist institution, combined with a failure to grow student numbers sufficiently to support enough income to cover year-on-year cash outflows. Imperial agreed to keep agricultural teaching and research on the campus, although the social scientists and economists were relocated to London
The first Provost of Imperial College at Wye was Professor Tim Clark. Commenting on his new appointment, Professor Clark said: "Wye College has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in teaching and research. I am looking forward to acting as Wye's champion and helping to preserve and build on all that is so special here."[better source needed] The second was Professor Jeff Waage from 2001, who resigned in 2004.
The end of Wye College
In 2004, the new Rector of Imperial, Richard Sykes, announced that the Department of Agricultural Sciences was closing, and that most teaching and research at Wye would end. In 2005 it was announced that Wye College would be converted into a large research centre for non-food crops and biomass fuels, with the support, under a "concordat", of Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council. Up to 12,500 jobs were planned if the research hub developed fully. Villagers were not informed of the scale of the proposals, which included housing, until a public meeting organised by Imperial. Opposition quickly began, and leaks of official documents (some of them held at a concealed website to avoid requests under the Freedom of Information Act) to a local campaigning website, have shown that the principal aim of the plan, particularly once an industry partner fell through, soon became to raise £100 million for Imperial projects in London by building 4,000 homes, most on 250 acres in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A new motorway link was also proposed.
The plan provoked bitter opposition both locally and nationally, and was seen as a test case for other attempts to build in AONBs. In 2006, Ashford Borough Council withdrew its support, and Imperial College abandoned its plans. This decision was hailed as a key victory to preserve the status of the AONB, and it stopped Wye from becoming a much larger town.
In 2007, the University of Kent agreed to run some undergraduate applied business management courses from the college buildings in 2007 for a short time, before transferring them to its main campus.
The College today
The Wye College campus was closed in September 2009 and Imperial College sought to develop the estate or to find suitable tenants for it. Most of the college farmland is currently leased to a former student of Wye College, a Mr Atwood, until the mid 2020s, with other parts to Ripple Farm Organics, The Wooden Spoon, and Michael and Wendy Barnes. An effort by Imperial to sell off Withersdane Hall was first halted with council intervention, but has now been made. A proposal to restore the agricultural college, with accreditation from the University of Buckingham, was advanced in 2010, but was later withdrawn. A proposal for a Wye Free School, initially with an entry of Year 7 students was received in 2012 by the Council and later approved. The school opened to Year 7 pupils in September 2013 in the Kempe Building.
In 2015, the main College campus and village houses were sold to a large property management and development company, Telereal Trillium. Their intentions for the site are being developed with public consultations on a new website. New housing forms part of the proposals.
Notable individuals and alumni
- Prof. Henry Bernstein, agrarian sociologist, Emeritus Professor at SOAS, University of London (Director of the External Programme at Wye College in the 1980s)
- Prof. Ken Giller, soil scientist, Wageningen University (Wye, 1999)
- Carolyn Hardy OBE, VMH; BA 1952; Chair National Gardens Scheme 1979-1986 and vice-chair Royal Horticultural Society for 10 years 
- Sir Ronald Hatton, pomologist, director of the East Malling Research Station
- Prof. David Leaver, Professor of Agriculture at Wye, and then Principal and Chief Executive of the Royal Agricultural College (until 2007).
- The gardener Christopher Lloyd, BA 1949, and lecturer until 1954.
- Prof. Michael Redclift, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sociology, King's College London (Lecturer to Professor, Wye, 1973 to 1997)
- John Seymour, alumnus. Widely published exponent of self-sufficiency and small scale farming.
- Prof. Eunice Simmons, Pro Vice Chancellor Academic, Nottingham Trent University. (MSc & PhD Wye, Senior Warden of Withersdane Hall, and Lecturer until the mid 2000s)
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- "Eunice Simmons Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic". Nottingham Trent University. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wye College.|
- Imperial at Wye
- formerwyecollege.co.uk formerwyecollege.co.uk
- A. D. (Sir Alfred) Daniel Hall
- royalsoc.ac.uk, FRS
- Alumni Association