chapter  10
Halls of Residence at Britain’s Civic Universities, 1870–1970
ByWilliam Whyte
Pages 12

This chapter argues that the history of the halls of residence at the civic universities in fact reveals quite the reverse. Rather than being an alternative to, much less a poor copy of, the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, they were a replacement for the working-class home. Initially established in the great industrial towns, the civic universities were the product of local patriotism, middle-class ambition, and fear about the country's relative technological and economic decline. Halls of residence provide an example of an alternative sort of institution, one intended to be better than the homes from which some of their inhabitants originated. In that sense these institutions illuminate another of the themes this chapter addresses: here were places founded not just to supplement but to supplant the background from which its inhabitants came. This chapter explains the study of these halls also reveals the significance of architecture and design in the creation and development of the civic universities.