|The Guildford Institute was formed on 14 June 1843 by a union of the Mechanics' Institute (founded 1834) and the Literary and Scientific Institution (founded in 1835).
In 1850 the Institute offered to provide exhibits for the Great Exhibition of 1851 but the Royal Commission patronisingly declined the offer saying it was unlikely they could provide anything of interest. Not long after the Society of the Arts asked the Institute to set up a drawing or modelling school but had been lukewarm in their response, perhaps in response to their earlier rebuff.
In 1856 a breakaway body was formed, the Guildford Working Men's Institution, and it was as part of this latter body, rather than the Institute, that a Drawing Class was inaugurated in 1857 with Charles Claude Pyne (1802 - 1878), an accomplished artist, as the master. The latter was the second son of William Henry Pyne, one of the founder members of the Society of Painters in Water Colours (latterly the Royal Watercolour Society), and also an illustrator and writer. Charles was noted for his foreign landscapes and exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Library, and was also the art master at the Guildford Grammar School.
The Reverend Richard Brown Matthews was the corresponding secretary of the Science and Art Department of the South Kensington Museum and became the Chair of the steering committee. It was through the Reverend Matthew's communications with Henry Cole, the Director of the South Kensington Museum, that support was provided for the classes. Funds for tuition and materials were also provided through local worthies, and a levy of 6d per year per tutee. In April 1858 Henry Cole visited Guildford to rouse support for the drawing classes.
Science classes were started by the Working Men's Institution in the mid-seventies. From 1869 - 89 Captain Charles Dugald Campbell (1813 - 1904), formerly of H.M. Indian Royal Navy was the Honorary Secretary of the Guildford Science and Art Classes, which were attended by working men and young people
Charles Pyne died in 1878, and he was succeeded by a local cabinet maker, George William Downes, as master for science and art classes. He had been associated with the steering committee since its early days, and had been the Honorary Secretary at one time. He had been certificated under the teacher training scheme at Department of Art and Science at South Kensington and also by the City and Guilds of the London Institute.
Under the Technical Instruction Acts of 1889 and 1891 local authorities could give grants for technical instruction not only to children over elementary school age but also instruction in scientific artistic and domestic subjects. The Technical Education Committee offered the Guildford Working Men's Institution a grant of £500 to extend the premises of the former Royal Arms Coffee Tavern and Temperance Hotel in Ward Street which the Institution were going to move into. The money for the hotel had been donated by members of the committee.
In 1892 the Guildford Institute and the Guildford Working Men's Institution and two were amalgamated under the title of the Guildford and Working Men's Institution.
By 1901 George Downes had retired6 and Victor Wyatt Burnand (1868 - 1940) was recorded as the Art Master . He was an artist and book illustrator.
In 1908 W.T. Patrick proposed a change in title , describing the present style clumsy and unnecessarily double-barrelled. His suggestion to revert to the Guildford Institute was overwhelmingly carried.
Not long after there was increasing pressure to rationalise the dual state-run system from that funded by subscription, and as a result the Guildford Institute and the Science, Art and Technical classes run by Surrey County Council separated in 1910. Purpose built accommodation for the Technical Institute was provided, and a new building was opened in Park Street on 16 March 1910 by Mary Seton Watts (a Scottish designer and potter, and the widow of the famous Victorian painter and sculptor, George Frederic Watts of the Symbolist movement). It was built to accommodate both science and art. It was paid for jointly by County and Borough Councils, and it had classrooms, laboratories and workshops for up to 700 pupils8. The Principal of the Institute was Frank Speare Tosswill, and the Head Master of the Art Department remained Victor Burnand, assisted by Herbert Arthur Humphrey Patrick
Maurice Wheatley became principal in the 1930s but was called up for war service
In 1939 the organisation, now the School of Art and the Technical College moved into Stoke Park Mansion, which had been formerly occupied by Stoke Park School. Unfortunately only a few rooms were available for school work on is reopening in October 1939, as it had to be largely given over to evacuation purposes.
Throughout the war the school had gone on steadily growing and more and more rooms were released for it. Mildred Lockley became the new Acting Principal. An exhibition of pupils' work was held in 1941, and at that time included examples from drawing and painting, women's crafts (dress-making, dress design, millinery, embroidery and weaving), commercial art, lithography, photography, stage design, bookbinding, typography, glass decoration and junior work sections. Of particular note were the photography and glass decoration.
Jacob Drew A.R.C.A. was in charge of the work of the glass department, and this included sand blasting, engraving and cutting, embossing and toned acid work, diamond engraving, silvering and gilding. Joy Thomas took charge of the photographic students, instructing them in portraits, fashions, interiors, landscapes and still life11.
Maurice Wheatley returned as the Principal after the war and remained until 1950. At that time the organisation was known as the Guildford School of Art and Crafts. The departments were Drawing and Design, Photography, Printing and Allied Subjects, Sculpture, Architecture, Painting and Decorating and Women's Crafts (Dressmaking, Millinery and Fabric Printing)
The Photography department was a major centre of photographic excellence under Ifor Thomas, the Head of Photography. His wife Joy, was also a lecturer there and together they formed a highly acclaimed team. Among his students were Jane Bown, John Hedgecoe, John Cleare, and Ray Dean. Staff included Thurston Hopkins. One of the part-time staff, always critical to and of the intellectual and creative health of the school was Alfred Lammer, a photographer noted for his pictures of flowers and of stained glass windows. He set up the first school of colour photography in Britain at Guildford in 1952 .
Throughout the period the Printing department worked with the corresponding department at the Reigate and Redhill School of Art to form a Surrey School of Printing.
The lecturers in the Sculpture department at this time were Trevor Tennant and Harry Phillips. They provided the inspiration for the future career of One of their students, Elisabeth Frink, the renowned sculptor.
Dudley Holland was the Principal from 1951 - 1956. He was a noted painter, engraver, woodcarver and practical craftsman, but died tragically in a road accident. Throughout his tenure he injected enjoyment and enthusiasm.
By 1957 the School was composed of departments for Drawing and Painting, Design, Sculpture and Ceramics, Printing, Photography, Dress and Textiles. Alan Coleman was the Principal from 1956 - 65. He was a sculptor, who had studied at Goldsmiths' College School of Art and the Royal College of Art.
From 1963 extra accommodation for the growing range of courses was provided in the Pewley Annexe in Harvey Road, Guildford.
Barry Kirk taught at the school in about the 1960s). He was a printmaker and had been educated at the Canterbury School of Art and later became its Principal before merger to form the Kent Institute of Art and Design.
However by 1965 overcrowding in the shared facilities was a real problem and Surrey County Council mooted a plan with the Department of Education and Science to remove the art school to a site close to the proposed new University of Surrey.
Tom Arnold became Principal in 1965. One of his main aims on appointment was to raise the courses run to degree level - from the National Diploma in Design to the Diploma in Art and Design level. He was a pottery designer, and aimed to realign the courses with industry. He was dismissed in 1970 after a public enquiry.
Student protests over the quality of education took place in the late 1960s. There was an eventual recommendation for the closure of the School
They merged to become part of the West Surrey College of Art and Design along with the Farnham School of Art in 1969
Related publications include
Chamberlin, Russell (1996). Survival: the rise, fall and rise of the Guildford Institute of the University of Surrey
Corke, Shirley (1990). "The Right Path of a Virtuous and Noble Education", In: Guildford: a pictorial history. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd
Myers, Harris (1996). William Henry Pyne and his Microcosm
Kelly's Directory of Surrey (1913) p.220
Janaway, John (1990). Guildford: a photographic record. Godalming: Ammonite Books (picture of Stoke Park Mansion)
The Guildford School of Art and Crafts. Art & Industry, 31 (November 1941),
Robertson, Bryan (1984). Introduction and dialogue In Willder, Jill Elisabeth Frink Sculpture: Catalogue Raisonné, p.28.