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A Brief History of Bangor University

The University was founded as a direct result of a campaign in the late nineteenth century for higher education provision in Wales. Funds were raised by public subscription to establish a college of university rank in Bangor. An important feature of its foundation was the voluntary contributions made by local people, including farmers and quarrymen, from their weekly wages over a period of time.

Opening its doors in 1884...

The University was founded as the University College of North Wales. It opened its doors on 18 October 1884 in an old coaching inn with 58 students and 10 members of staff. The students received degrees from the University of London until 1893 when the University of Wales, Bangor became one of the three original constituent colleges of the University of Wales .

The location...

The University was originally based in an old coaching inn called the Penrhyn Arms. In 1903, the city of Bangor donated a 10-acre site overlooking the city at Penrallt for a new building, and substantial sums of money were raised by local people to help meet the cost. The foundation stone for this was laid in 1907, and four years later in 1911 the main building was opened, together with some arts and social science buildings and part of the Library.

The Science Departments remained in the Penrhyn Arms for another fifteen years. In 1926 they moved to new purpose-built accommodation which had been constructed with the assistance of funds raised by the North Wales Heroes Memorial.

Images from the past


Today, we have over 11,000 students and 2,000 members of staff. Bangor University is committed to providing teaching of the highest quality, conducting research of the highest quality, taking good care of its students and playing a full role in the wider community of Wales .

Bangor University, 1884-2009

A book tracing the fascinating history of Bangor University between 1884-2009 has been published.

Written by former University Registrar, Dr David Roberts, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the University, the book traces its rise from modest beginnings in October 1884 as the ‘University College of North Wales’, with just 58 students in the Penrhyn Arms, to an independent university with degree-awarding powers and 14,000 students and staff.

Dr David Roberts said: “It records the highs and lows, the successes and crises, the achievements and challenges in the University’s history. Central to the story are the contributions of the leading figures in the University’s development over the years, and the evolution of student life on the campus.”

“This is a university which gains strength from its history and its roots, but also one that has survived and grown by adapting to changing circumstances. It has faced many challenges over the years, and no doubt will do so in the future – but the commitment to the highest standards of learning, research and scholarship is constant.”

The book is available in either Welsh or English from bookshops, direct through the University by calling 01248 382031, or through on-line book sellers.