The history of our buildings
The University's estate comprises of 263 buildings, including
academic, administrative and residential units, which together
offer approximately 136,000 square metres of usable
space in Hull and a further 14,000 square metres in
Venn Building, is one of the original University
buildings, having been constructed in the foundation
period. It was originally known as the Administration
Building and was later named after the famous mathematician John
Venn, who originated from Hull. The foundation stone was laid by
the Duke of York (later George VI) in April 1928, and the
University College opened in October with 39 students and 14
‘one-man’ departments. Today the Venn Building is home to the
Vice-Chancellor and University's administrative staff.
The Cohen Building, named after Lord Cohen of
Birkenhead, is also one of the original University
structures. Before 1959 it housed the University
library. It is currently home to the Departments of Geography and
two main original buildings were joined by what is now
Staff House - and what was then the Students’
Union - in 1948. Staff House is now a hub of activity, with a staff
refectory and restaurant plus various facilities for
conferences, wedding receptions and other events.
The Chemistry Building was built in 1953.
This building housed the historic work of Professor George Gray,
CBE, in the development of liquid crystals, which now have
applications in everything from scientific equipment to LCD
displays on mobile ‘phones.
The number of applications for student places doubled within a
year of the royal charter - granted in 1954, giving the University
independence - and as a result the space between the foundation
buildings and Staff House was filled with a complex of huts during
the 1950s, giving the place the air of an army camp for academic
Mr Harold Loten of Hornsea, a past Chairman of the University
Council, gave his name to the Loten Building,
which was originally constructed as a student hall of residence,
part of a plan to accommodate more students on the campus itself.
The University has also pursued a policy of acquiring houses in
neighbouring streets for student residences, and some 1,600
students are now accommodated in these student houses.
The original University library building was constructed in
1958-59 and officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1960. It
was named the Brynmor Jones Library in 1967 after
Sir Brynmor Jones, a former Vice-Chancellor (1956-1972). The
Library tower extension was built in 1966-67 and officially opened
in 1970, and from the top floors there are panoramic views of the
Humber Bridge and surrounding countryside. The Brynmor Jones
Library houses more than a million books, among many other valuable
The Larkin Building was constructed in the
1960s and named after the renowned poet Philip A Larkin, who was
the University Librarian for 30 years, until his death in 1985. The
Larkin Building is home to arts, languages and humanities.
Lectures, seminars and tutorials are taken here on a daily basis.
The Wilberforce Building, also constructed in the
late 1960s, is named after Lord Wilberforce, a previous and
long-serving Chancellor of the University.
The Larkin and Wilberforce buildings were guided by the Martin
Plan of 1967, which envisaged a landscaped pedestrian centre for
the campus and ‘cascaded’ buildings diminishing in height towards
the perimeter. Sir Leslie Martin was then the University’s
The Ferens Building was opened in 1996 by HRH
the Duchess of Kent and is named after one of the University’s
local benefactors, Thomas Robinson Ferens, who gave the original
18-acre site on Cottingham Road and £250,000 to found the
University College in 1927. (As well as the city's Ferens Art
Gallery, he is remembered in the names of Ferens Hall, one of
the University’s Halls of Residence, and Ferensway, a major
road running through the heart of the city centre.) The
Ferens Building houses facilities for the Language Institute and
the Institute for Chemistry in Industry.
Links between teaching and research were strengthened in 1996
with the opening of the Graduate School building,
which provided a focus point for the University’s thriving and
growing postgraduate research community.
The Derwent Building, which became part of the
University when we acquired the former University of Lincolnshire
site on Cottingham Road, underwent major refurbishment in 2005 and
now houses the Hull University Business School.
Linked to the Derwent Building is the
Nidd Building (another part of the former Lincoln
site), which was also renovated and houses the Logistics
Institute. This state-of-the-art resource, founded in 2006,
incorporates technology development labs, technology showcase units
and business incubation units.
Exemplifying the excellent support that the University has
received from the NHS, the Daisy Building, at
the Castle Hill Hopsital Site, is a £6.5 million medical research
and teaching facility focusing on heart disease and cancer.
It opened in May 2008.
Formally opened in 2008 by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, the
Enterprise Centre is the most recent major
development on the western side of the Hull campus.
Constructed from a former halls of residence, it provides vital
pre-incubation facilities for up to 40 new businesses run by
University graduates, students and staff.
From plazas to parking spaces, from bars to broadcasting
studios, the University’s campuses continue to be transformed. We
have committed to many site enhancements, including the creation of
a business quarter, widespread improvements to our social
facilities and extensive upgrades to our accommodation.
Page last updated by Sally Greaves on