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 Scarborough.

Venn LandscapeThe 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 Psychology.

Staff HouseThe 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 types.

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 materials.

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 architect.

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.

Logistics InstituteLinked 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 2/27/2014