Imperial College

Royal School of Mines

Perspective drawing of the Imperial College of Science and Technology 1910

Detail of design for the Royal School of Mines (Imperial College of Science and Technology), perspective from the north east, 1910
Pen on paper
Artist: Thomas Raffles Davison (1853-1937)
Architect: Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930)
Copyright: RIBA Library Drawings & Archives Collections

The Royal School of Mines (RSM) began life in 1851 with the Museum of Practical Geology. It was the first government-backed technical higher education establishment in the United Kingdom. Initially it sat in Jermyn Street, central London, however after a number of developments, including a merger with the Royal College of Chemistry in 1853, the school outgrew its accommodation.

The move to South Kensington

In the 1870s the school moved piecemeal to South Kensington. At first it moved in to the building that is now the Henry Cole Wing of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but then into a purpose-built structure designed by Sir Aston Webb.

The site given was on the Prince Consort Road, next door to the Royal College of Music. This drawing by Thomas Raffles Davison, Webb's favourite perspectivist, shows the new RSM with the Goldsmith's extension to the left in Exhibition Road, (an extension for the City and Guilds College, which can just be seen on the far left).

The design of the RSM

Built between 1910 and 1913 Webb designed the RSM as an imposing Classical structure. The entrance to the school uses the Ionic order and is recessed into the building. It is dominated by the two flanking statues outside, those of Sir Alfred Beit (1853-1906) and Sir Julius Charles Werhner (1850-1912), both substantial benefactors to the RSM.

Incorporation into Imperial College

During construction the RSM joined with the Royal College of Science and the City and Guilds College to form Imperial College. It is the only building of these three to have survived the 1950s and 1960s reconstruction of Imperial College.