A speech by The Earl of Wessex at Bath Abbey, marking the 50th anniversary of the University of Bath


A speech by The Earl of Wessex, Chancellor, as the University of Bath marks its 50th anniversary.

We have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate

Welcome to Bath Abbey and this celebration to mark the anniversary to the day of the granting of the Royal Charter which established the University of Bath. We also thank God for the past 50 years and especially for the people who have shaped this story. For however we try to tell of our achievements and success, it would not have been possible without people.

As we reflect today on how far this University has come from its humble beginnings in a single building on the Norwood playing fields let us hope that the founders then the Bristol College of Science and Technology, who had the vision and courage to apply for and accept the responsibilities of the Royal Charter, are pleased and proud of what has been achieved.

Today we are a flourishing campus of some 20,000 souls, the majority of whom are of course research, masters or undergraduate students, but there are also our staff and academics working in Education and Research, Management and Administration, Technical and Experimental, Operational and Facilities Support. It is because of you that our international reputation is growing, that so many students from far and wide choose to come and learn here, that more universities from around the world want to collaborate with us, that highly eminent individuals are willing to accept an honorary degree from the University of Bath.

Each and every one of us here today have played a part – some perhaps rather less and more recent than others – yet we are representative, whether individually or collectively, of all those who have contributed to this university’s success, helping to shape its future and continuing to do so. Whoever and however, we are all here to celebrate those achievements.

Yet we must not forget that as far as the City of Bath and the county of Somerset is concerned the University of Bath is a relative newcomer. In some respects you could describe our relationship as parent and child: without the city and county the university would not have come into being nor would it have been able to achieve so much. Undoubtedly there must have been some tricky years along the way when this upstart, teenage university started to kick against the traces.

I’m glad to say that whatever may or may not have happened is firmly in the past for we are now enjoying a partnership based on mutual respect and collaboration, symbolised by our respective maces being present in the Abbey. The university brings multiple benefits to the community in terms of employment, encouraging forward thinking, enhancing Bath’s reputation and bringing a whole new crowd to what has always been a destination city.

We have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate, so let us start with a pictorial depiction of that journey from those humble beginnings, accompanied by the University Chamber Choir conducted by Dr Michael Painting. They will be singing Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia”