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British Industrial History

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John Henry Reynolds

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John Henry Reynolds (1842-1927)

1927 Obituary[1]


By the death of Dr. John Henry Reynolds, which occurred on Sunday, July 17, at the advanced age of 86, technical education in this country in general, and that in Manchester in particular, suffers a great loss. Indeed, it is not too much to say that he was one of the pioneers in this beneficent, and sometimes greatly misunderstood, branch of human activity, or that Manchester is indebted to him for its splendid College of Technology in Sackville-street (now a constituent part of the Victoria University) and for the outstanding position which higher education has reached in that city. Though he retired from active work some 14 years ago, the courage and enterprise which he inspired still characterises the College and will, we hope, long continue as a monument to his memory.

Mr. Reynolds was born in Salford on February 8, 1842, and received his early education at the Mechanics’ Institute in Manchester, of which he ultimately became the secretary in 1871. Useful though the services which were rendered to education by this organisation had been for fifty years, it was then becoming rapidly unsuited to modern conditions. With the assistance of the City and Guilds of London Institute, and of a number of Manchester citizens, it was therefore transformed into a technical school, with Mr. Reynolds as director of instruction. Within a few years, however, it prospered so greatly that it became necessary to build and equip the present School of Technology. This educational institute, the activities of which are known the world over, was managed by a committee, Mr. Reynolds being appointed principal, and at the same time acting as Director of Higher Education. His connection with the School and College of Technology lasted, in all, for 33 years, a period the record of which is one of unbroken success. This was largely due to his personality, as was amply shown when his resignation in 1911 was made the occasion of numerous tributes, which clearly indicated the national significance of the work he had done for higher education. This work was also recognised by the Manchester University, who conferred the honorary degree of Master of Science upon him, and appointed him Dean of the Faculty of Technology.

While it would be true to say that outside education Mr. Reynolds had few interests, within that not very circumscribed field, his advice was always freely given and his energies unstintingly applied. In 1913-14 he was president of the Association of Technical Institutions, and was also closely connected with the Association of Directors of Education, the British Science Guild, and the Teachers’ Guild of Great Britain and Ireland.

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