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History of South Thames College

There has been an educational establishment on our Wandsworth site in south west London for more than 100 years.

It was founded in 1895, funded by a tax on whiskey! Students had to pay what was then a substantial fee of £1 a term for day classes. There were around 500 students studying there, a large number for those times.

1910-11 College regulations stated that "...each boy must wear the school cap or straw hat; he must also provide himself with a satchel, gymnasium shoes and a swimming costume." Apparently, the caps came in different colours depending on what "House" the student belonged to and, according to one student in 1930, the colours used to run in the rain, staining the students' faces blue, red, green or yellow.

Today, over 21,000 students are enrolled at South Thames College, and government funded courses like BTEC Nationals and A-levels are free for 16-19 year olds.

In 2009, the College merged with Merton College, another thriving education establishment in South West London.

Interestingly, while many things have changed dramatically over the last 100+ years, the focus of what is now South Thames College has not.

In 1895, students were enrolled on 'Trade Classes' designed to train and, maximise the potential of, people looking for skilled work, including carpentry, brickwork, plumbing and hygiene.

Today our vocational courses are still designed to give excellent training and maximise the potential of students looking for skills. These still include carpentry, brickwork, plumbing, and hygiene, but we have expanded into many other areas too.

South Thames College over the years

1895 Wandsworth Technical Institute was founded on the Wandsworth High Street site, replacing 'The Parsonage'
1900 More than 1,000 students enrolled on courses at the Institute
1926 The present buildings on the High Street were completed; they were later awarded a Grade II listing
During World War II our College was used to train men and women in a variety of skills and occupations that were important to the war effort, for example radar
1955 Our new 'South Block' was completed to complement the existing buildings
1974 Wandsworth Technical Institute merged with Putney College of Further Education (on Putney Hill)
2000 Government Minister Malcolm Wicks opened our Tooting Centre - a new building with state-of-the-art facilities next to Tooting Broadway tube station
2000 We completed the refurbishment of our Roehampton Centre which now offers a Learning Centre, IT facilities, cafe, Beauty Therapy suite and Childcare provision
2005 We added a new frontage to the Grade II Listed building in Wandsworth High Street, designed to be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Later in the year we won an Access Award at the Wandsworth Council Design Awards
2006 We start development work, including the demolition of the South Block dating from 1955, which will result in a new learning facility at the Wandsworth Campus. As part of the building is listed, we have to use a clever design to connect the old and new buildings
2009 We open for business in the redeveloped Wandsworth campus
2009 The complete redeveloped Wandsworth Campus is opened officially
2009 Merton College merges with South Thames so between them there are now five sites across two boroughs with campuses in Balham, Merton, Roehampton, Tooting and Wandsworth
2013 Based at the Merton Campus, our flagship Hospitality and Catering Academy opens. It includes Taste, a commercial restaurant open to all and run by the students as part of their studies to provide valuable workplace experience
2013 Aurora, our non-residential centre for 16-25 year olds with autistic spectrum disorder and complex needs, opens. Here a dedicated team delivers individualised learning pathways for these young adults