Royal Veterinary College: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal Veterinary College
Established 1949 - became constituent part of University of London
Type Public veterinary school
Principal Professor Quintin Archibald McKellar BVMS MRCVS PhD DVM
Students 1,610[1]
Undergraduates 1,215[1]
Postgraduates 395[1]
Location London and Hertfordshire, England, UK
Campus Urban and rural
Affiliations University of London

The Royal Veterinary College is a constituent college of the University of London, and one of the United Hospitals. Founded in 1791, it is the oldest and largest veterinary school in the United Kingdom.



The Royal Veterinary College was founded in 1791 by a group of men led by Granville Penn, a grandson of William Penn. The promoters wished to select a site close to the metropolis, but far enough away to minimise the temptations open to the students. Earl Camden was just then making arrangements to develop some fields he owned to the north of London, and he replied to the College's newspaper advertisement for a suitable site with an offer to sell it some of his land. The site was rural, but urban developments appeared on all sides in the early decades of the 19th century, creating Camden Town.

The first veterinary college in Europe had been founded in Lyon, France in 1762. Charles Benoit Vial de St Bel of the Lyon establishment was appointed as the first principal of the new college, and the first horse was admitted for treatment in 1793. St Bel died later that year and was succeeded by Edward Coleman, who managed the college for nearly forty six years and established its reputation. In its early years it was mainly concerned with horses, but the range of animals covered gradually increased. The original building was a quadrangle in a neoclassical style, and there was a paddock on the opposite side of Royal College Street, but this was later sold for housing development.

The College first acquired royal patronage from King George IV, and was granted a Charter of Incorporation in 1875. Various extensions were added over the years, and in the 1930s a total reconstruction took place under the supervision and through the fund raising carried out by Sir Fredrick Hobday. The new buildings were opened by George VI in November 1937. The 1930s buildings remain, with minor extensions. The Camden Town site is hemmed in by other buildings and further expansion necessitated a second campus outside of London. The Hawkshead Campus in rural Hertfordshire was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.

The foundation of the Veterinary College, London, in 1791 marked the establishment of the veterinary profession in this country. The development of the profession can be traced to that single act. In the racing seasons of 1769 and 1770 the racecourses of England were dominated by one horse. That horse was Eclipse, so named because of the solar event on the day of his birth, 1 April 1764. Eclipse was never beaten on the racecourse and, in the absence of any competition, he was retired from racing in 1770 and stood at stud until he died in 1789 at the age of 25.

Eclipse was a sufficiently important horse to make it necessary to know not only the cause of his death, but also the secret of his successful life. A veterinary opinion was needed, but there was no veterinary school and no qualified veterinarian in the country except the Frenchman Charles Benoit Vial de St Bel. St Bel attended the corpse of the famous racehorse and subsequently published his post-mortem findings.

However, St Bel's chief purpose for being in England was not to attend dead racehorses but to gain support for his plan to establish a veterinary school. He was assisted in this quest by the Odiham Agricultural Society, which consisted of a number of enlightened gentry. These men recognised the need for a better understanding of animal husbandry and disease and had, for some years, been considering how to introduce the veterinary art into this country.

By May 1790 they had realised that this could be best achieved by establishing a veterinary school, and had set up a London committee to further this objective. Vial de St Bel had met one of their number, Granville Penn, the grandson of William Penn who founded Pennsylvania, and Penn had helped him refine the outline of his plans for such a school.

The Veterinary College, London, was born in the parish of St Pancras in 1791, on the present-day site of the Royal Veterinary College's Camden Town Campus. On 4 January 1792, the first four students attended the College to begin a three-year course intended to cover all aspects of the veterinary art. As funds became available the College developed, with facilities that provided a clear benefit to subscribers, such as stabling and an infirmary, taking precedence over a lecture theatre and dissecting rooms.

The College styled itself Royal from 1826 due to the patronage of George IV, but it was not until 1875 that this was substantiated when the College received its first Charter of Incorporation from Queen Victoria. Significantly, during the first 100 years of its existence the College progressed from a horse infirmary with a handful of students to a science based institution, producing veterinarians and scientists with reputations acknowledged all over the world.

John McFadyean, probably the first modern veterinary scientist in the country, joined the Royal Veterinary College as professor of pathology and bacteriology in 1891. During his time as Principal, from 1894 to 1927, he established a research institute in animal pathology, in which the commercial production of tuberculin and mallein not only contributed to the eventual eradication of tuberculosis and glanders as major diseases of man and animals, but their sale helped the finances of the College. McFadyean was succeeded as Principal by Frederick Hobday. Frustrated by the still inadequate College facilities, Hobday launched a mammoth fundraising campaign. The Giant Nosebag Appeal raised a magnificent £135,000 which, together with a government grant of £150,000, enabled the College to buy the freehold of the site at Camden and to initiate a construction programme. The old buildings between the recently erected pathology institute and The Beaumont Animals' Hospital, which had been built in 1932 as a result of a single legacy, were demolished in 1935 and replaced with modern new facilities. The College's association with pioneering female veterinarians such as Aileen Cust, who took a revision course at the College before qualifying as the first woman to hold the MRCVS diploma in 1922, and Olga Uvarov - the first woman to become President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons - who qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1934, reflects our aim to provide equality of education for all.

In 1949 the Royal Veterinary College became a full part of the University of London. However, unlike any other University with a veterinary school, London has a federal structure, and so the College retains much of its independence under its own Royal Charter. This includes its own Council and a full time Principal who is appointed by the Council and not the University. As in all other veterinary schools students work for a degree which is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. In 1955 the College acquired a country estate in Hertfordshire to provide a new field station, and in 1958 the departments of medicine and surgery moved from their wartime site at Streatley in Berkshire into the new buildings at Hawkshead. In 1956 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted a new charter to the Royal Veterinary College and formally opened the College's field station in 1959.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother opened the College's Northumberland Hall of Residence in 1965, and accepted election to Honorary Fellowship of the College in 1981. In 1982 The Queen Mother became Patron of the College's Animal Care Trust, and in 1986 opened the first phase of the new Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, which was built largely as a result of the Trust's work. 1986 also saw the opening of the Sefton Equine Referral Hospital Surgery Wing by HRH The Princess Royal as Chancellor of the University of London.

During 1991 the College celebrated its Bicentenary with a range of important events, including a renewed building programme which has involved the opening of a second students' hall of residence, Odiham Hall; the construction of the second phase of The Queen Mother Hospital; and, most recently, the establishment of purpose-built facilities for pathology at Hawkshead in the Mill Reef Pathology Building, which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in May 1995.



  • 1791 The foundation of the Veterinary College, London, which later becomes known as the Royal Veterinary College.
  • 1 January 1792. The first four pupils begin their three-year course under the direction of a Frenchman, Professor Charles Vial de St. Bel.
  • 1796 John Shipp is the first qualified veterinary surgeon to join the British Army.
  • 1844 The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is awarded its Royal Charter.
  • 1865 RVC Professor James Beart Simonds is appointed as the first Chief Inspector and Veterinary Advisor to the Privy council, with particular regard to cattle plague.
  • 1875 The RVC is granted the first Royal Charter. To this day the RVC remains the only veterinary college in the UK to have its own Royal Charter.
  • 1879 Establishment of the Cheap Practice Clinic, later known as the Poor People's Out-Patients Clinic. Some veterinary surgeons are concerned that the College was threatening their livelihoods. The College argues that poor people can afford neither the RVC's annual subscription, nor the normal veterinary fees, therefore their animals will go untreated if the Clinic is to be closed.
  • 1891 RVC centenary. Foundation of the Students' Union. The first issue of the journal, The Student, is published on November 29; the second issue, December 11, is renamed The Students' Record.
  • 1895 The RVC acquires its first X-ray machine.
  • 1907 Major renovation of the College horse boxes, which have fund-raisers' commemorative shields hung at their doorways.
  • 1924 Construction of the Research Institute in Animal Pathology, which is headed by Professor John McFadyean.
  • 1927 RVC buildings are officially declared dangerous structures. Nationwide fund-raising for the total rebuilding of the College begins under the new Principal, Professor Frederick Hobday.
  • 1932 The Beaumont Animals' Hospital opens.
  • 1937 New RVC buildings are officially opened by King George VI, accompanied by Queen Elizabeth, the present Queen Mother, on November 9.
  • 1940 The RVC evacuated to Streatley, Berkshire. However, the Beaumont Animals' Hospital remains open at Camden Town throughout the war years.
  • 1949 The RVC becomes a school of the University of London.
  • 1958 The Hawkshead field station is officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
  • 1982 The Animal Care Trust is launched with the Queen Mother as patron.
  • 1986 The Queen Mother Hospital for Small Animals is opened at Hawkshead by the Queen Mother. Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and Chancellor of the University of London, open the surgical wing of the Sefton Equine Referral Hospital.
  • 1991 RVC bicentenary. The skeleton of the famous racehorse Eclipse, dissected in 1789 by St. Bel is once more the property of the RVC and is on display in the Museum at Hawkshead.
  • 2001 The London Bioscience Innovation Centre is opened.
  • 2003 The Learning Resource Centre (Eclipse Building) is officially opened at Hawkshead by Her Majesty the Queen in October 2003. The Large Animal Clinical Centre is officially opened by HRH, Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh in October 2003.
  • 2005 The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Hawkshead Campus as new Patron of the Royal Veterinary College Animal Care Trust
  • 2007 The LIVE Centre at Hawkshead is officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in February 2007

Museum of Veterinary History

The Hawkshead campus houses the Museum of Veterinary History, which holds a collection of veterinary instruments, early anaesthetic and surgical equipment, books, and notebooks relating to the College and the development of veterinary education and science. The Museum may be visited by appointment. A collection of photographs and ephemera relating to the Royal Veterinary College is kept at the Camden Campus, along with the Student Registers, and Student Entry Books dating back to the founding of the college.

The museums is a member of The London Museums of Health & Medicine.



  • Camden Town and Primrose Hill Past by John Richardson (1991). ISBN 0-948667-12-5

External links

Video clips

Coordinates: 51°32′12″N 0°08′02″W / 51.5368°N 0.1340°W / 51.5368; -0.1340


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address