A lot can happen in 150 years and the changes to the countryside and open spaces are all around us; the same is certainly true of Royal Holloway College. The college campus remains one of the most attractive in the country but compared to the way it was for the first 50 years of its existence it is a stark reminder of how much green space has been lost everywhere. The campus map (from 1937) shows the buildings and the remaining open spaces. The college campus when it first opened was dominated by the Founders Building (and still is) but there were very few other buildings. A bungalow was in place so the site architect could be based there and a swimming pool was built to the south of the main building and an ‘engine-room’ (later always referred to as The Boilerhouse) to enabled piped hot water to be delivered to Founders to heat the building. In 1888 the Moore Laboratory was in place (but then referred to as the Chemistry Lab) By 1900 a lodge had been built for the gardener and at the turn of the century there were few other buildings on the site. In 1926 a new building was provided to allow space for botany and physics laboratories and teaching space and that was it until the end of the war. The aerial picture from 1945 shows the campus as it was then. In 1952 the Williams Laboratory was opened as a temporary building (its still there) to provide additional space for Chemistry.
The campus map for 1965 shows the campus as it was then (with no additional building on the main campus). The architect’s bungalow (which until then had been used to house the college secretary) was converted into a Student Unions building but on the other side of the A30 a number of large houses became part of the college estate. I must admit that I had always thought there were just a few houses on that side of the road used for some of the smaller departments but in fact each house came with a substantial amount of land which extended almost the entire length of the main campus. You can see on the 1965 map just how extensive these grounds were.
With the influx of male undergraduates in 1965 Kingswood, another large estate house about a mile away from the college was acquired and extended. This, along with some other buildings were bought into use and development started on the campus of two new halls of residence which by 1970 were in use. These were Athlone for women and Cameron for men. They were not quite as attractive as the Founders building and were built to be functional rather than appealing to the eye. These two halls were followed by a third hall on a smaller scale but similar architectural model; it was opened in 1973 as the first mixed hall of residence (called Williamson). Work also started on a new chemistry building – the Bourne laboratory, a new physic building (Tolansky) and a computer centre to supplement the prefab building put up at the end of the 60s. On the campus these were followed by a new Arts building in 1975.
In the early 80s some new large buildings were put up in preparation for the expansion that was to come with the merger with Bedford College. The McCrea building and Queen’s building were both substantial structures and then the Wilson building was put up as an annexe to the Tolansky laboratory.
So by the end of the 1965 – 85 period the college was significantly larger.
The campus grounds had changed beyond all recognition. In the early 70s the grounds were dominated by the Founders Building and the two "new" halls of residence - Athlone & Cameron. The Union Building, Lecture rooms A and B and a few others were scattered around but the bulk of the grounds were given over to rhododendron bushes, tall trees and muddy tracks and a variety of meadow area for team sports.
This Google Earth picture is from December 2000 but I’ve doctored it to remove the recent buildings from The Williamson field and replacing many of the other buildings which have been built since 1985 with woodland and pasture.
In 1985 it was still a very rural setting with lots of greenery. It would be fair to say that a lot of the land was still fairly wild and that was part of its appeal. In recent years some of that land has been landscaped and considerably enhanced so the campus retains much of its character.