College History

Farnborough College of Technology’s proud history goes right back to the beginning of the last century and the days of the Royal Aircraft Factory. We have adapted and changed to meet the needs of our community, providing courses from Level 1 to Post Graduate Level.  At the college we help people of all ages and levels develop and realise their aspirations.

1913 – The War Office authorised classes to be held in the Royal Aircraft Factory, to give the airfield workers an academic education. Classes were held four evenings a week at 10/-(50p) a session, and involved mathematics, mechanics, drawing and chemistry. The so called Trade Lads School started.

1914 – Teaching stopped and work in the factory increased due to The First World War

1917 – The school was reopened and studies were reconvened.

1936 – Hampshire Education Committee gained responsibility for providing technical education from which the ONC (Ordinary National Certificate) in Mechanical Engineering evolved.

1941 – The HNC (Higher National Certificate) was approved by the Ministry of Education.

1943 – It was decided that an independent technical school should be set up.The Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Technical College was established.

1944 – The Royal Aircraft Establishment Technical School took over from the Trade Lads School. Instead of a factory workshop, the school was housed in an old convent. The RAE Technical School’s remit was to produce “men trained both theoretically and practically to carry out research and development work in both the RAE and industry”

1950 – The site across the road from the RAE Technical School became available.

1955 – Work on Farnborough Technical College began. The original buildings are what we now know as G Block, F Block and the Theatre. As the country was still in years of reconstruction after World War Two, steel was difficult to come by and large air raid shelters had to be removed. Designers took efforts to keep most of the trees on site and take the environment into consideration.

1957 – Farnborough Technical College opened to students with ten areas of study, from engineering and science-based subjects to innovative courses such as ‘Women’s Crafts’ and ‘Modern Studies’. 1,230 students enrolled in the first year. The college was a huge success.

1958 – In its second year the college enrolled 2,529 students. The large number of students enrolling meant that the college had to use 13 rooms in the local grammar school.

1960 – It was decided that Farnborough Tech and the old RAE Technical School should be incorporated into one body.

1962 – The college reached over 4000 students. More courses were added to the college curriculum.

1967 – Students created hoax UFOs for the charity Rag week and caused a national scare, including the army destroying one in a controlled explosion. Documents were released 44 years later.

1971 – A Capital Bid was agreed so that the College should purchase a single computer. Prior to this, the College had an arrangement with a local business where they would hire the use of their computer at the cost of £20 per hour.

The Capital Bid lists the computer’s requirements as four rooms and two classrooms. The machine was priced at £70,000, which adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to over £967,000.

1972 – Students received a performance from the newly formed rock band, Genesis.

1984 – Over 6500 students were enrolled, some 1500 full time. More space was needed to hold classes and the Mall was conceived. Work began in 1984.

During construction a local artist used the accumulated topsoil to create a sixteen-foot high S-shaped sculpture. It became a source of contention amongst locals and was reffered to as Farnborough’s own ‘Berlin Wall’. The artist hit back calling them ‘Philistines’, defending his work and describing it as ‘full of mystic and cosmological symbolism’ and ‘a window in the infinite’.

The mound was removed at a cost of £10,000.

1989 – Construction of the Mall was completed.

1995 – Approval was given for the Westminster building, which currently houses a reception area, a lecture theatre, a conference suite and areas for teaching Music Technology. The new building was opened by the college patron, His Grace the Duke of Westminster.

2005 – The college purchased a site in Aldershot and Aldershot College was formed.

2007 – Farnborough College of Technology celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Hosted in the former RAE Farnborough site at IQ Farnborough.

2011 – The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, officially opened the new Aerospace and Automotive Academy. The facility was the most modern of its kind in the UK.

2013 – The college has been an accredited institution of the University of Surrey for many years. In 2013, ‘University Centre Farnborough’ was launched to continue this partnership, marked by the planning of a new University Centre Farnborough building, due to open in 2016.

2016 – Construction is completed on the new University Centre Farnborough Building.