The London Institution, 1805-1933
thesisposted on 17.11.2011, 13:25 by Janet Catherine Cutler
This study is an account and analysis of the activities and fortunes of the London Institution from its foundation in 1805 to its final closure in 1933. The Institution, modelled on the Royal Institution, began in 1805 with over £80,000 and a proprietary mainly engaged in trade or commerce. Premises were leased in Old Jewry and later, in 1811, premises were purchased in King's Arms Yard but were found to be unsuitable. Eventually, the managers decided to have a mansion specially built in Finsbury Circus. This was designed by William Brooks, erected by Thomas Cubitt and opened in 1819. Before 1819 no lectures were given nor laboratory work carried out as no suitable accommodation was available. However, a large collection of books was acquired which formed the basis of the Institution's library. Much later, a popular circulating library was added. In 1819, the theatre was opened and lectures commenced. At first, there were courses of lectures intended to give instruction in various subjects but later they were replaced by single lectures as entertainment. It was not until 1841 that W. R. Grove was appointed to work in the laboratory. Scientific work had a patchy career at the Institution before being discontinued in 1884 after H. E. Armstrong resigned. By the 1890s, large sums of money had been spent on repairing the building and the Institution was heavily mortgaged. The managers sought solutions to the problem but after the Royal Commission on University Education in London reported in 1912, the premises were taken over for the School of Oriental Studies. Some proprietors and subscribers remained as continuing members but the Institution closed in 1933 when the School moved to Bloomsbury.