A vibrant history
De Montfort University (DMU) is a dynamic institution with a long and vibrant history of improving people’s lives through education.
Originally founded as the Leicester School of Art in 1870, the university has evolved through many incarnations including the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology and Leicester Polytechnic.
Leicester Polytechnic officially became De Montfort University on 26 June 1992. The name was chosen to reflect the University’s long association with Leicester by commemorating the celebrated Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, a crucial figure in medieval history who established the first parliament in 1265.
Our reputation for quality and distinctiveness in teaching and research is a direct result of our heritage. Many modern DMU courses have their roots in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when the School of Art and Leicester Technical School began training apprentices for local industries such as boot and shoe manufacture, furniture making and design, hosiery and textiles manufacture, engineering, printing and book binding.
Art, pharmacy, corsetry, footwear, physical sciences and architecture were taught at the Schools and are still in evidence at DMU today, either as courses in their own right, or as integral components of more modern courses.
A commitment to ensuring teaching kept pace with the changing needs of businesses meant that computing courses were introduced in the 1960s; DMU’s computing degrees are still highly valued by industry.
The university has grown and evolved over the years, but it is still dedicated to providing inspirational teaching to students and it has a significant impact on the world around it.
Find out more about DMU's history.
Learn about the rich history of our campus.
DMU timeline: 1869 - 1897
1869 - A meeting is held to ask Leicester citizens to support the foundation of a School of Art
1870 - Leicester School of Art founded with classes in a disused warehouse in Pocklington’s Walk
1881 - Ernest Gimson, Arts and Crafts architect and designer, enrols on Architecture course
1882 - Leicester Technical School starts classes in the Ellis Wing of Wyggeston Boys School with the Reverend James Went as headmaster
1897 - The School of Art and Technical School are merged as the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School based in what is now the Hawthorn Building
DMU timeline: 1909 onwards
1909 - School of Pharmacy founded
1929 - Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School becomes Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology
1935 - Finding of arches of the medieval Church of the Annunciation under the Hawthorn Building
1939-45 - Colleges support war work by, for example, painting murals in air raid shelters and manufacturing hospital equipment
1946 - The university buys three houses which serve as the first student accommodation
1947 - School of Corsetry founded – now Contour Fashion
1958 - Computer Science is taught for the first time
1966 - Fletcher Building opened by the Queen Mother
1967 - Pink Floyd play the Students’ Union
1969 - City of Leicester Polytechnic formed when the Colleges of Art and Technology merge
1976 - The Polytechnic merges with the City of Leicester College of Education
1992 - Polytechnic awarded University status and adopts the name De Montfort University. DMU's Milton Keynes Campus opens
1993 - Award winning Queen’s Building is opened by Queen Elizabeth II
1994 - DMU Lincoln and DMU Bedford founded on merger with Lincolnshire College of Art and Design, Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, and Bedford College of Higher Education
1995 - DMU merges with Charles Frears School of Nursing and Midwifery
2001 - Lincoln Campus is transferred to the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside to enable the creation of the University of Lincoln
2003 - The Campus Centre opens. DMU withdraws from the Milton Keynes Campus
2006 - Bedford Campus merges with the University of Luton to become the University of Bedfordshire
2010 - Hugh Aston building opened
2011 - Mile2 project launched
- Queen Elizabeth II visits at the start of the Diamond Jubilee Tour