Quintin Hogg (1845-1903). Educationalist, Merchant, Philanthropist and Founder of the Regent Street Polytechnic.

Born in London and educated at Eton he was a very religious person and a keen sportsman and both interests greatly influenced his educational beliefs. After leaving school he entered the commodities business involved in particularly those concerned with sugar and tea. After a successful career he became very concerned about the woeful lack of educational opportunities and provision for young people, particularly girls, identifying that in 1880 only 2% of the 750,000 of 16 to 25 year olds, (both sexes), were attending any form of educational institution. He was very much motivated by his Christian beliefs and began to turn his energies to educational reforms.

In 1864 he founded the York Place Ragged School which attempted to get young children off the street and provide a very basic education. Following the Forster Education Act of 1870 elementary board schools were established funded by a compulsory ‘education rate’ that was levied by the local School Boards. This development undermined the ragged schools. In 1882 he founded the Young Men’s Christian Institute which offered a number of trade subjects studied in the evenings for youths aged between 16 and 22. In addition, reflecting Quintin Hogg’s beliefs, the Institute was also a social and athletic club. In retrospect he made a significant contribution to the development of London’s technical education system. Hogg was very committed to providing education for young men and women at a time when very little was being done to increase opportunities for females. The Youth’s Christian Institute was finally located in Long Acre after 1878.

In 1881/2 an old established Polytechnic Institution (1838-1841) in Regent Street that was founded in 1838 by George Cayley found itself in financial difficulties. In 1841 the Polytechnic Institution had changed its name to The Royal Polytechnic (1841-1881) and the Prince Consort had become its Patron. George Cayley was a remarkable individual being a noted scientist and aeronautical engineer. Throughout the period these institutions existed they became established centres for popularising science and new technologies and inventions. Quintin Hogg acquired the lease and closed the Long Acre site and formally opened the Polytechnic Young Men’s Institute in 1882. The Polytechnic aimed at ‘the instruction of artisans and clerks in the principles and, to some extent, the practice of breadwinning pursuits’. The fees were low and the classes often run in conjunction with the CGLI included courses in bricklaying, electrical installation, plumbing and printing. In 1891 the Polytechnic became publicly funded and was officially named the Regent Street Polytechnic. A view of the Regent Street Polytechnic is shown below.

Regent Poly 1In 1885 Quintin realised that the classrooms of the Polytechnic were empty during the daytime and as a result in 1886 established the Polytechnic Day School. Also in 1885 he opened an Institution for Girls at Langham Place and many of the classes at Regent Street were by then open to young women. By this action he made another major contribution to the educational needs of the time and through a number of day schools which were created in London. Only one of the original schools still exists namely the Quintin School.

The model of operation of the Regent Street Polytechnic prompted the City Parochial Foundation to create the London Polytechnics that included the People’s Palace, the East London Technical College (now Queen Mary College), Northern, Borough, Battersea and Chelsea Polytechnics. In fact Quintin Hogg was able to persuade the Charity Commissioners to endow more Polytechnics in London and by 1900 there were 8 and by 1904 there were 12 in number Their aims and objectives were broadly in line with Hogg’s belief and commitment to promote ‘the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young people belonging to the poorer classes’. The Polytechnics at the time occupied an interesting place in the technical education landscape being between the newly emerging civic universities and technical colleges.

Like Lyon Playfair, Quinton Hogg made a major contribution to technical education for those people who at the time were excluded from education. He had a wide vision of education that embraced the intellectual, athletic, social and spiritual aspects of people.

The Regent Street Polytechnic became the Polytechnic of Central London in 1970 along with 29 other institutions to create the binary system of Higher Education. In 1992 The Polytechnic of Central London became the University of Westminster. Quintin Hogg’s legacy lives on through these institutions.

References:

  1. Hogg. E. M., ‘Quintin Hogg. A biography.’ Archibold Contable and Co. 1904.
  2. Eagar. W. M. ‘Making Men. The History of Boys’ Clubs and related movements in Great Britain.’ ULP. 1953.
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