University’s history revealed in-depth in a new book.

Posted on 18th June 2014

A new book which explores the history of the University of Chester, from its early days as the country’s first purpose-built  teacher training college, to becoming the present fully-fledged University with international status, has been published as part of the 175th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the institution.

Professor Graeme White, with his book, 'On Chester On'.
Professor Graeme White, with his book, 'On Chester On'.
I really enjoyed researching and writing this book and am very grateful to everyone who helped me with information, advice and support.
Professor Graeme White

On Chester On, has been written and intensively researched by Professor Graeme J White, and was launched on Friday, June 13, following the inaugural lecture at Chester Cathedral of former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is a Visiting Professor in the University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Professor White was a member of staff at the institution between 1977 and 2010, in roles including Head of the Department of History and Dean of Academic Quality and Standards, and is also an Emeritus Professor of Local History at the University.

His unique perspective on the institution and the people involved during that time builds upon the existing publications on the history of the College and University, and gives an insight into how Chester College developed from its modest beginnings to evolve as a key higher education institution in the North West.

The book coincides with the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the institution, which was granted University status in 2005, but dates back further than most UK universities to 1839. The book’s title is taken from the College motto of 100 years ago.

The story of the institution is a remarkable one of survival and success. The early College was a pioneering venture with a unique approach to learning based on workshop skills. As part of this, in the 1840s, the students built most of the present Chapel themselves. The University still uses the first buildings in England specifically designed for the training of teachers. Chester College came close to closure on three occasions in the 1860s, 1930s and the 1970s, only to emerge intact and to strengthen its position, growing into the successful University of today.

Professor White said: “I really enjoyed researching and writing this book and am very grateful to everyone who helped me with information, advice and support. Obviously I have a loyalty to the University but I have tried to be critical in my analysis of its history – this is not one long hymn of praise!  As a Cestrian myself, I also hope that the book will be of interest to the people of Chester, given the importance of the University to the city’s economy and cultural life.”

On Chester On, has been published by the University of Chester Press, the University’s own publishing operation which aims to disseminate excellent original research and creative work from within the University, together with publications with a significant relationship to the history, life and culture of Chester and its surrounding area.

The book costs £14.99 and is available to order online at: Alternatively, telephone 01244 513305 or email: It is also stocked by John Smith’s Bookshop at the University of Chester’s Parkgate Road Campus and can be purchased through all local and national booksellers.