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Vivian Bowden Papers

Date range: 1930s-1989

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(Bertram) Vivian Bowden (1910-1989) was a distinguished technologist and university administrator. After wartime work on radar, he joined Ferranti Ltd. in 1950 as one of the first computer salesmen. In 1953 he was appointed Principal of Manchester Municipal College of Technology. Bowden led the College through a period of rapid expansion, transforming it into one of the country’s leading technological universities, culminating in its reconstitution as the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1965.

Bowden was an articulate public spokeman for technological education and industrial modernisation in the era of the ‘white heat of technology’. Harold Wilson nominated him for a life peerage as Baron Bowden of Chesterfield in 1963 and appointed him Minister for Education and Science after the 1964 general election. After leaving government in 1965, Bowden returned to UMIST, retiring as Principal in 1976. He remained active in public life as a champion of higher education and an advocate of the importance of science and technology.

Lord Bowden’s papers comprise his correspondence files and copies of his published writings. The archive documents his contributions to higher education, politics and public life up to his death in 1989. It also includes material on his personal interests in the history of computing and other areas of scientific research.

The Bowden papers are an important resource for a range of issues in post-war British political and economic history including: higher education and the relations between government, industry and academe, science and technology policy, and the history of computing.

See also:

University of Manchester Archives

Further Information:

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.

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