In July 1983, the Arthur Storer Building, housing the Law School, and Economics and Social Studies opened. By 1985 there were around 4,500 full time and sandwich course students and 2,800 part time students.

Mick Harrison. Courtesy of David Parsons.

The Polytechnic had a new director in 1985 in the form of Professor Michael Harrison. Mick Harrison was also a governor of Thomas Telford School, and of Bilston College. He became a member of the council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a trustee of the Black Country Heritage Trust, and a member of the board of the Wolverhampton City Challenge Project. He also had extensive international links.

Mick Harrison was a graduate of Leicester University, where he began his teaching career. He then moved to London and taught at Enfield Technical College before moving to Leeds University.

He then returned to Enfield Technical College and was there from 1968 to 1971 when it became part of Middlesex Polytechnic. After several other teaching jobs, he moved to Hull College of Higher Education where he became Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Studies.

In 1982 he moved to Wolverhampton and became Dean and Assistant Director of the Polytechnic. He then became Deputy Director, before becoming Director in 1985.

In 1981 the departments of mechanical, electrical and production engineering were united to form the School of Engineering.

Wulfruna Street in the early 1970s.

In 1983 The Polytechnic, Wolverhampton became Wolverhampton Polytechnic, after it became independent from the local education authority.

Looking across the Polytechnic from St. Peter's Church in June 1988.

Another view from St. Peter's Church.

A final view from St. Peter's Church.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the Polytechnic had its own 'underground' satirical magazine called 'Wolfbane', produced by Paul Hudson.

A cartoon from Wolfbane, date unknown.

A cartoon from a 1977 edition of Wolfbane.

The following article from 1977 is about ‘Polydat’ and the Department of Computing and Mathematics:

The virtual library: a new concept in resource management technology - C. B. Hayter, Confusions and Mythopoeics.

The virtual library is an important new concept in resources management technology. Basically it involves a continuing dynamically structured dialogue between information consumers and information providers and coordinators in a goal-oriented attempt to delineate a formally hierarchised functional profile of consumer requirements. The dialogue is driven by a network of dedicated microprocessor based systems co-operating via a local area network that can be dynamically interfaced to the consumer's word processor or personal computer. Once the dialogue is complete and the potential information consumer's functional profile has been constructed, the professionally trained and qualified information providers and co-ordinators take over the processing of the consumer's request. They will provide the consumer with a structured list of literature references sequenced on a computed relevance criterion. This will enable the information consumer to interface him or her self to the acquisition of a maximally relevant subset of the source media with a minimal diversion from other activities.

The Polytechnic has secured a significant research contract in this area as part of the 6th sub-division of the Japanese 5th generation computer project. The research will involve a detailed investigation into organisational methodologies appropriate to the support and monitoring of research into inter- and intra-personal communications and dialogues with special reference to the efficient use of virtual libraries. Awarding the contract to the Polytechnic, Deputy Information Minister Yohoho Andabottleofrum said that he had been particularly impressed by the immense depth and breadth of the Polytechnic's experience in the formalisation of organisational and structural hierarchies. Replying, Polytechnic Director G****e S*******e said that he was personally honoured to be part of such an ongoingly important project. In an interview with a reporter for Pollywollydoodle Mr S*******e said it would almost certainly prove necessary to establish several extra schools to support the research effort. He also welcomed the opportunity to set up a working party to delineate the precise role of the school as a facet of the overall organisational experience of the Polytechnic.

As a preliminary step the Polytechnic has established a committee to formalise and co-ordinate proposals for the establishment and deployment of resources and staff in this important area. Support of the project will require the establishment of several extra information providers, co-ordinators and inter-personal communication handlers to be based on the fourth floor of the Robert Scott Library. It will also require the provision of an appropriate facility infrastructure. In order to provide the requisite office space and resources, the Polytechnic regrets that it will no longer be able to keep books in the Library.

The article was written by the late Peter Burden.

There were inter-departmental football competitions. Frank Sharman, on the far right, from the Law School, is handing out prizes to a winning team. Courtesy of Frank Sharman.

Another look at Wulfruna Street and the main entrance.


Courtesy of David Parsons.

In the 1980s the polytechnic had its own newsletter called PolySpective. It contained all of the latest news about the polytechnic, including staff changes, promotions, resignations, retirements and the setting-up of new departments. The following is from the October 1986 edition that was kindly copied by David Parsons.

At the time there were many changes in the directorate. Geoffrey Brooks was appointed as Assistant Director of Administration and Resources, John White became Deputy Director of Resource Planning and Roger Waterhouse became Deputy Director of Academic Planning. John McLaren became Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Steve Bristow became Dean of Modular Studies, Harry Plevy became Director of the Unit of Industrial and Commercial Collaboration, Gerald Bennett became Head of the School of Business and Management, Norman Gough became Head of Computer Aided Engineering in the School of Engineering, Bob Jamieson became Head of the Centre for Health and Biomedical Studies in the School of Applied Sciences, Rob Cutler replaced Ian Andrews as Personnel Officer, Dave Hopkins became Head of the School of Languages and European Studies, John Wildsmith became Head of the Faculty of Business and Social Science and finally, Mr. W. J. Wilson became Residential Services Officer.

At the time, the Health Studies Section and the Psychology Section joined the newly formed Centre for Health and Biomedical Studies in the School of Applied Sciences, that would soon move to the Old Post Office building in Lichfield Street and become the School of Health Sciences. The Geography section in the School of Applied Sciences was split in two. The Environmental Geographers remained in the school, but the Social and Human Geographers became part of the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies. The Audio Visual Aids Unit was decentralised and the staff moved to other departments.

The newsletter contained articles on the deaths of some members of staff, including Danny Moore, a caretaker in 'B Block' and a polytechnic driver, who died of cancer, Bill Squire from the School of Business and Management who died in a road accident, also Richard Revell from the history section who died suddenly at home.

In 1986, 2,200 new students arrived at the polytechnic, 1,700 of whom applied for accommodation. As a result, accommodation had to be found for 450 students outside the hostels. 150 were found accommodation with landladies, 100 at hotels and guest houses and 200 in the private sector.

Courtesy of David Parsons.


In April 1987, the government published a White Paper called 'Higher Education: Meeting the Challenge.' It set out plans to remove all polytechnics and higher education colleges from local authority control and to make them independent corporate bodies. This became law in July 1988 as the Education Reform Bill. From the 1st April 1989, the board of governors assumed full responsibility for the operation of the polytechnic, which became the legal employer of all its staff and the owner of all its property and assets.

At this time there were 9,815 students, 3,000 of whom were women, 2,360 were mature students (over the age of 21), 5,618 were full-time students and 3,798 were part-time. 1,635 students were from the Black Country and 238 were from abroad.

At the time it was the only higher education establishment in the country to have its own 'high street' shop.

Professor Mick Harrison greets the Mayor, Councillor Richards on Vesting Day, Monday, 3rd April, 1989. The mayors of Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton were invited to the Vesting Day ceremony and were each presented with a special medal to mark the occasion. The medal had been designed by Ron Dutton. Courtesy of David Parsons.

Another view of Mick Harrison and the Mayor, on the 3rd April, 1989. Courtesy of David Parsons.

Some of the onlookers at Vesting Day. On the extreme right is the Polytechnic's Chaplain, the Rev. Geoffrey Wynne who retired in 2010 after 44 years service. Courtesy of David Parsons.

In 1989 the Polytechnic merged with the West Midlands College of Higher Education in Walsall, and in 1991 work began on a new campus in Telford to cater for 2,500 students.

West Midlands College of Higher Education

1963 saw the opening of the West Midlands College of Education in Gorway Road, Walsall. It was originally allied to Birmingham University's School of Education as a teachers training college. Several extensions were added in 1968 including a drama studio, a tutorial building, and a study building. A library was added in 1971, followed in 1972 by a dining hall, a medical centre, two student hostels, staff accommodation, a physical education building, and a music centre. In 1989 it became Wolverhampton Polytechnic's Walsall Campus.

The Walsall Campus in about 1990. Courtesy of David Parsons.

In the 1980s, collaboration between the Polytechnic and educational establishments abroad greatly increased. Students and staff in the Faculty of Art and Design exchanged places with colleagues at Alfred University in New York State and some Management Studies students gained MBA degrees at Penn State University. There were also links between the Faculty of Education and the University and Polytechnic of Virginia and the Department of Languages and European Studies placed around 100 students in European educational establishments each year.

One of the study areas in the mid 1980s. Courtesy of David Parsons.

Noelma Shaw in 1984.

The polytechnic had a large number of BBC micros in the 1980s. In the photo opposite, Noelma Shaw of Applied Sciences is seen hard at work on a BBC micro programme.

Noelma was an expert on butterflies and greatly added to the department's collection.

She left the polytechnic near the end of 1984.

In 1987 the newly formed School of Health Sciences moved into the old post office building in Lichfield Street, that backed-onto Berry Street. The building included the old Valhalla pub building on the corner which became the Higher Education Shop. The University continued to rent the building until about 2007.

The Higher Education Shop. From a University leaflet. Courtesy of David Parsons.

The Finance and Personnel Departments and the Estates Department moved to offices on the Molineux football ground site where there were also classrooms. The Advice Centre and the Registry moved to a building in Stafford Street, on the corner of Whitmore Street. The Polytechnic also acquired the building next door, the old Drill Hall office building, where there were classrooms and offices.

In 1989 the new campus opened at Stafford Park, Telford.

The location of the various buildings around main site. From a Polytechnic leaflet. Courtesy of David Parsons.

The northern end of the site. Also from a Polytechnic leaflet.


Courtesy of David Parsons.

The heading from a staff newsletter. Courtesy of David Parsons.

An article from the October 1980 staff newsletter. Courtesy of David Parsons.

The Chaplaincy Centre officially opened in March 1981. It was funded by many local churches, largely due to the efforts of the Polytechnic's Senior Chaplain, the Rev. Geoffrey Wynne.

Another article from the October 1980 staff newsletter, describing the move to the football ground. Courtesy of David Parsons.
Towards the end of the 1980s the Polytechnic began to produce its own magazine.

The photo opposite is of the front cover of the first edition.

Courtesy of David Parsons.

Some members of staff who left in the 1970s and 1980s are well remembered. The caretaker, Jack Price kept the buildings secure, always with the help of his dog and Reg Morton, one of the founders of West Midlands Studies which helped with the formation of the museums at Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale. Mrs. Harris, the refectory manageress always strictly ruled her territory and the never to be forgotten Elfed Roberts, the lecturer in politics, who was extremely popular and claimed to be known by every person in the establishment. He left in 1978 and moved to Hong Kong where he became a lecturer in political studies at Hong Kong University. He was later an Associate Professor there and became Head of Department of Pobl Group, which created good homes for people.

Another person who was well known at the polytechnic was Irene Hewitt who retired in 1980 after completing 42 years of service in administration. Another once well known figure was the late Jack Hammond, the Chief Administrator. Just before his retirement in 1980 he received an MBE for his work in educational administration. He was a sociable man who loved music and played the piano, guitar and double bass. He died at his Wombourne home at the age of 89, in 2008.

Another well remembered figure was Bob Smith who ran the maintenance department in the basement of 'G Block' for many years. He was an electrical engineer who was an expert on the distribution of electricity in Wolverhampton and the surrounding area. The maintenance department moved from 'G Block' to the old Carvers building in Stafford Street.

The retirement party held for long serving Mrs. Margaret Rownes who worked in the Registration Department. She was a long-serving staff member who worked there for 37 years, starting at the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College at the age of 15.

At the back is John White, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Deputy Director.

Courtesy of David Parsons.

For many years, a familiar figure on 'The Marble' was head caretaker, Reg Kean. His office was on the right-hand side of 'The Marble', as you enter the building. Reg was in the Royal Navy for many years before becoming a member of staff. Thanks to his influence, in his day, most members of the caretaking staff were ex-naval men. He became president of the Royal Naval Association in Wolverhampton and actively supported other ex-navy men. He lived at Warstones in Penn and died on the 6th March, 2017 at the age of 96.

Reg Kean and his wife Elsie.

October 2009.

Courtesy of David Parsons.

Another very well known figure was Harold Starr, who for many years worked in Audio Visual Aids. Harold had been a cinema projectionist before joining the college. On Friday nights he would be the projectionist at the students union film shows in the cinema in 'C Block' where popular feature films were shown.

He also became very involved in the staff bar in 'C Block' after it opened in the late 1960s, often serving behind the bar.

He was always friendly, outward going and helpful. One of Harold's hobbies was dancing with his wife.

When Audio Visual Aids on main site closed, Harold was transferred to Audio Visual Aids at the Dudley Campus. He retired in 1993.

Harold died in 2008 or 2009.

Harold Star in the late 1970s. Courtesy of David Parsons.
One person who worked throughout the establishment and was known by most people was photographer Geoff Knight. During his time at the Polytechnic he must have taken a vast number of photographs, which he also processed and printed. He had photos published in local newspapers and did wedding photography with his wife Elaine, who he married in 1976.

In his later time at the Polytechnic, he was moved to the photography section in the School of Art and Design, but was never happy there. In 1988 he got a job teaching photography at Wakefield College and Geoff and Elaine bought a bungalow at Skelmanthorpe, near Huddersfield. Geoff suffered from a recurring illness which was never properly diagnosed. He retired in the summer of 1997 and looked forward to enjoying a long retirement. He loved sailing and bought a new boat in readiness for retirement. Sadly, in January 1998, on his return from visiting his father in Scarborough, he had a massive heart attack and died. It was a few days before his 50th birthday. He might still be alive today if the illness had been properly diagnosed.

Geoff Knight in action in St. George's garden in the mid 1970s.

Danny Moore was a well known and popular figure in 'B Block' where he worked as a caretaker.

He was also a polytechnic driver and worked at weekends behind the bar at the Himley Country Club.

He was a keen gardener and had a lovely garden at his home in Balmain Crescent.

Sadly he died of cancer on the 25th July, 1986 at the age of 51.

Danny Moore in 1984.

Geoff Wynne and his wife Gaynor at his retirement party. A newspaper cutting from an unknown newspaper.
A long-serving member of staff is the Rev. Geoffrey Wynne who started his career at the college in 1966 and retired 44 years later on the 3rd July, 2010.

He had been taught at St. Joseph's College in Shropshire by former monk, Tom Baker, who became an actor and was well known  as Doctor Who.

In 1979 he inaugurated an appeal to build the polytechnic's Chaplaincy Centre, which  officially opened in March 1981 and had been funded by many local churches.

In 2009 he received an honorary doctorate for his achievements at the polytechnic and the university.

In 2020 he is still active, as a Director and Minister of Religion at Tettenhall College.

Return to
Electrical Engineering
  Return to
the contents
  Proceed to
The 1990s