Whilst many will now be acquainted with Crewe campus as the central location of Manchester Metropolitan University's Cheshire Campus; the existence of a major educational institution in Crewe has roots leading right back to 1908.
In 1908 the Cheshire Local Education Authority decided to build a training college to facilitate the training of new teachers which would in turn provide a considerable contribution to the gap in teaching staff for Cheshire's many new schools. Upon completion of the college in 1912 students arrived ahead of a transition from an old world to a new.
Through the First World War the college saw a decline in numbers of male staff and students as the war effort took precedence. Post WW1 however, the male intake actually outnumbered female. In between wars the college saw significant growth with a figure of 1,100 students by 1929. Through the Second World War the college had to be saved, not as a result of bombing, but by the factor of it being designated a "hospital for war casualties". Had it not been for the observation document published by the then Principal of the college, Mr F. H. C. Brock, the Crewe campus may not have been with us today.
Post war the college became a Primary Teachers' College with tailor-ship to fit the needs of students training to teach in Primary Schools. In 1942 the HQ of the Crewe College Nursery Group was established at the campus fulfilling a need for a course in Nursery Teachers' Education. This was one of the first locations in the country to run an approved course of this nature. Moving through to the 1960s the college grew as a mass building programme took place on the campus.
In 1965 as a result of higher aspirations for the college it was renamed the Cheshire College of Education, Crewe. Continuing in further growth and success leading up to 1970 the campus was then later renamed again to Crewe College of Education.
Beginning as a Teacher Training College in 1947 the Alsager campus had inherited the structures of a wartime hostel. The 20 acre site had played an important role in the country’s war effort through facilitating living space for 1,000 female munitions workers from a nearby factory. The many structures built originally for these workers provided good facilities for a student population. Its role was once again to have an important function when the school-leaving age went up from 14 to 15. This new ruling brought with it a need for approximately 50,000 new teachers.
Miss M Laurence Principal 1946-1971In its first year the College had a student population of around 350. After much growth leading up to 1949 a consolidation took place and the College was made permanent under the Liverpool Institute of Education. As a result of this the College was renamed Cheshire County Training College, Alsager. In subsequent years it gained a good reputation for its family atmosphere which brought with it good practising teachers of a consistently high standard. The College became one of the largest teacher training institutions of the time; despite its location it had more students than found in many of the teacher training colleges at Liverpool.
In the early 1960s both colleges left the Liverpool Area Training Organisation (ATO) and together with Madeley College formed the University of Keele ATO. During this time the courses provided throughout the Organisation were of a common structure which meant that occasionally students could be taught together either at the University or at one or other of the colleges. Around 10 years later in 1974, after many discussions and a great deal of controversy between the two colleges, Crewe and Alsager amalgamated to become the Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education. Within this same year the long awaited White Paper was published entitled, "A Framework for Expansion". This played a significant part in the recent amalgamation of the two colleges. Its influence would change the system by which colleges such as this would be categorised, bringing it into a Higher Education system.
Pre 1992 Manchester Polytechnic was an institution that consisted of numerous colleges in and around the City of Manchester. The Manchester Polytechnic was first established in 1972, incorporating Manchester College of Art and Design, the Manchester College of Commerce and the John Dalton College of Technology. Following this in 1977 it absorbed the Didsbury College of Education, Hollings College and finally, for the time being, the City of Manchester College of Higher Education in 1983. Under the terms of the Further and Higher Education Act, 1992, the now much greater sized Manchester Polytechnic became a University. A new title was approved by the Privy Council on the 15th September 1992 and the Polytechnic now became known as Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).
Despite being at a distance of around 30 miles from the city centre campus the Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education remained a window of opportunity for MMU to expand out to. Land costs were most certainly lower here and existing accommodation for students was of a good standard at Crewe and Alsager. So on 1st October 1992 the College of Higher Education became a part of MMU. As a result of expansion to South Cheshire, MMU became the third largest university in Britain after the universities of London and Manchester.
Between 1992 and 2003 the Crewe and Alsager campuses of MMU had been referred to as the Crewe+Alsager Faculty amongst the other 6 faculties located within the campuses at Manchester. Spanning the size of a small UK university; the Crewe+Alsager Faculty in 2003 could well be seen by the outsider as Cheshire's University. With multi-million pound investment planned for the Crewe+Alsager Faculty at this time it made a good opportunity for a name change along with new branding for it.
On August 1st 2003 the Crewe+Alsager Faculty received a new name and a new look with the branding of MMU Cheshire for the Crewe and Alsager campuses. By this stage already the Alsager campus had seen major investment with a new swimming pool and sports centre. For Crewe plans had progressed well for new student accommodation which was completed in 2005.
Dean of MMU Cheshire Dennis Dunn said: "With 500 staff and nearly 6,000 students we have a huge presence in Cheshire. We are delighted to be here and it is only right and proper that our name reflects that fact from this point on and into a brighter future for Crewe and Cheshire".