Founded from charitable donations in 1892 as the Borough Polytechnic Institute, it absorbed several other local colleges in the 1970s and 1990s, and achieved university status in 1992. LSBU is a post-1992 or new university.
LSBU was founded in 1892 as the Borough Polytechnic Institute. It has since undergone several name changes, becoming the Polytechnic of the South Bank in 1970, South Bank Polytechnic in 1987, South Bank University in 1992 and London South Bank University in 2003. The university has also merged with a number of other educational institutions.
In 1888, Edric Bayley, a local solicitor and member of the London School Board, set up the South London Polytechnics Committee whose members included the Lord Mayor of London, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Salisbury, Lord Rosebery and Sir Lyon Playfair. The Committee was successful in persuading the Charity Commissioners to pledge to match whatever could be raised from the public, up to the sum of £200,000 to establish polytechnics in South London. A public meeting at Mansion House kick-started the public appeal and by 1891 enough money had been raised to establish polytechnics at Battersea and at Borough Road, Southwark, now LSBU.
During 1890, the former buildings of Joseph Lancaster's British and Foreign School Society were purchased for the Borough Polytechnic Institute. In May that year, the South London Polytechnics Institutes Act was passed, so that by June 1891 the governing structure and general aims of the new Institute had been created. These aims were "the promotion of the industrial skills, general knowledge, health, and well-being of young men and women" and also for "instruction suitable for persons intending to emigrate". W. M. Richardson was chosen to be clerk to the Governing Body, C. T. Millis was appointed as Headmaster, Miss Helen Smith was appointed Lady Superintendent and Edric Bayley was appointed the first Chair of Governors.