Creating a Legacy at the University of Kent

By Elle Summers

15th February 2021

As we are now in our third national lockdown, many of us may feel a little stuck in our surroundings, whether that be on campus as a first year, or in town. With not a lot to do at present, I decided to reflect upon why I chose to study at the University of Kent. The historic location definitely drew me to Canterbury, and while most of us have some understanding of the history of the city and the Cathedral, very few of us ever look up the hill and wonder about the historic roots of the university itself. Over the course of this series, I will be uncovering our ties to the past and exploring what it truly means to be a student at the University of Kent.

The 300 acres of the university used to be farmland as part of Beverly Farm. The Grade Two Listed Farmhouse still stands on the site near Turing College, in which people can hire rooms to stay in. Other signs of the past lie at different places in the university grounds and around the surrounding area. One good example of this is the Beverley Farm Footpath Arch, located in Beverley Meadow. This arch was built between 1825 and 1830 during the construction of the Canterbury to Whitstable train line.

In 1830 the first regular steam passenger railway in the world opened, running between Canterbury and Whitstable, giving more people the chance to head to the seaside from the city. This line came to be known as the Crab and Winkle Line and ran until 1952. This train line ran right through the University site with a tunnel running right underneath the current campus. The remains were the cause of the Cornwallis building sinking in July 1974. It almost seems apt that part of the University should lie over the old railway as like this early transport link, we encompass interconnectivity as 'The UK's European University'.

A university was first considered for the location of Canterbury in 1947 due to an anticipated growth in student numbers. After much deliberation our site was agreed upon in 1960, lying between the boundary of the county borough of Canterbury and Kent County Council (hence the original name University of Kent at Canterbury).

Upon receiving its Royal Charter in 1965, the University of Kent was officially open, and the first 500 students arrived in October of the same year. Created in a collegiate style, the first four colleges were Eliot, Darwin, Keynes and Rutherford, and so our legacy was born!

Images Courtesy of Orangeauroch and Morgan Rodway-Wing.

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