Royal School of Mines
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Royal School of Mines

Royal School of Mines,
Imperial College London
Royal School of Mines front side, Prince Consort Road, looking east in early spring.jpg
Established1851; 170 years ago (1851) (1907 as part of Imperial College)
Studentsapprox. 800

51°29?59?N 0°10?33?W / 51.499796°N 0.175699°W / 51.499796; -0.175699Coordinates: 51°29?59?N 0°10?33?W / 51.499796°N 0.175699°W / 51.499796; -0.175699
AffiliationsImperial College Faculty of Engineering
RSM Logo Medium.png

The Royal School of Mines comprises the departments of Earth Science and Engineering, and Materials at Imperial College London. The Centre for Advanced Structural Ceramics and parts of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Department of Bioengineering are also housed within the building.[1] The school as an organisation no longer exists, having been incorporated into the Faculty of Engineering since 2003.[2] Today the Royal School of Mines refers to both the departments associated with the former school, and the Grade II listed Edwardian building by Sir Aston Webb, which is viewed as a classic of academic architecture.[3] The building and relevant student union still carry the name.


The Royal School of Mines was established in 1851,[4] as the Government School of Mines and Science Applied to the Arts. The School developed from the Museum of Economic Geology, a collection of minerals, maps and mining equipment made by Sir Henry De la Beche, and opened in 1841. The museum also provided some student places for the study of mineralogy and metallurgy. Sir Henry was the director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and when the collections outgrew the premises the museum and the survey were placed on an official footing, with government assistance.

The Museum of Practical Geology and the Government School of Mines and Science Applied to the Arts opened in a purpose-designed building in Jermyn Street in 1851. The officers of the Geological Survey became the lecturers and professors of the School of Mines. The Royal College of Chemistry was merged into it in 1853. The name was changed in 1863 to the Royal School of Mines, and was moved to South Kensington in 1872. In 1907, the school was incorporated into Imperial College of Science and Technology, but retained its own identity as a "constituent college".

In 2001 it was announced Imperial was to transition from a constituent college structure to a faculty structure, a move that was completed in 2003.[5][2] The last Dean of the Royal School of Mines was Professor John Monhemius before the position was abolished. The Royal School of Mines has since come to refer to both the building in which former school was housed, as are its departments still today, and the student body representing students within those departments.[6]


Goldsmith's Extension on the corner of Exhibition Road

Designed by Sir Aston Webb, the RSM building is classical in style with ionic pilasters.[7] It was erected between 1909 and 1913 specifically to house the school, which was previously resident in the Huxley Building on Exhibition Road, now the Henry Cole Wing of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The foundation stone was laid by King Edward VII on 8 July 1909.

The RSM was the last of many buildings that Webb designed for the Albertopolis area (including the Cromwell Road frontage of the V&A) and, some would argue, his least resolved. Constructed in Portland stone, the entrance is formed by a three-storey, semicircular niche, flanked by two memorials (sculpted by Paul Raphael Montford, 1916-1920) to Alfred Beit and Julius Wernher who were major benefactors to the school.[7] The western wing of the building is named after Webb, while the eastern end is named after the Goldsmiths' Company who helped to finance the building of the RSM.

In film

The distinctively Edwardian and academic styling cues used in the building's architecture have led to the RSM appearing in a number of film and television productions:

Students' Union

Main Entrance Hall

The RSM Union represents the interests and organises events for the students studying at the departments associated with the Royal School of Mines. It is part of the wider college union, and has a formal constitution guiding its activities around:

  • The furthering of the interests of the members and the status of the RSM
  • The promotion of sport within the RSM
  • The promotion of interest in all aspects of geology and materials science
  • The promotion of social intercourse among its members

The union runs sports teams, societies and events which span the academic year from October to July. The highlight of the sporting and social calendar is the annual Bottle Match against Camborne School of Mines, the second oldest rugby varsity match in the world.[8]

The RSM Union is also responsible for looking after the RSM Mascots, Davy and Clementine II. Davy is 3 foot tall, 60 kg davy lamp, a type of mining lamp, and has been a mascot since 1965.[9] Clementine II is a 1926 Morris T-Type One Ton Truck, bought by the RSM Union in 1960 to replace their previous motorised mascot Clementine I, a 1919 Aveling and Porter Traction Engine.[10]


Through societies such as the RSM Association and the Chaps Club, the RSM maintains a strong alumni network in the global mining community.[11]

Alumni and professors

Henry Thomas de la Beche
Richard Dixon Oldham

List of deans

Before it was incorporated into the Faculty of Engineering, the school was led by a dean. The deans were:[15]

  • 1943-45 : Herbert Harold Read FRS
  • 1945-47 : William Richard Jones
  • 1947-49 : John Anthony Sydney Ritson
  • 1950-51 : Cecil William Dannatt
  • 1952-59 : David Williams
  • 1959-62 : James Cecil Micheson
  • 1962-65 : John Geoffrey Ball
  • 1965-68 : John Sutton FRS
  • 1968-71 : Marston Grieg Fleming FREng
  • 1971-74 : John Geoffrey Ball (2nd term)
  • 1974-77 : John Sutton FRS (2nd term)
  • 1977-80 : Peter Lynn Pratt
  • 1980-83 : John Lawrence Knill
  • 1983-86 : Edwin Thomas Brown FREng
  • 1986-89 : David William Pashley FRS
  • 1989-91 : John Stuart Archer FREng
  • 1991-95 : Charles Timothy Shaw
  • 1995-98 : Rees David Rawlings
  • 1998-2000 : John Anthony Kilner
  • 2000-01 : Andrew John Monhemius


  1. ^ "Visit us | Imperial College London". Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ a b "A timeline of College developments". Imperial College London. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "History of the RSM". Royal School of Mines Union website. Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ "New Faculty of Natural Sciences to be formed at Imperial College London". Imperial College London. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "About the RSM". Royal School of Mines Union website. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Albertopolis: Royal School of Mines". Royal Institute of British Architects. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ "History of the RSM". Royal School of Mines Union website. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^[bare URL]
  10. ^[bare URL]
  11. ^ "History of the RSMA". Royal School of Mines Association website. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ 'CRESWELL, Lt-Col Hon. Frederic Hugh Page', in Who Was Who 1941-1950 (London: A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  13. ^ "Passages: William Sefton Fyfe - C.C., FRS, FRS(C), FRS(NZ)". Geolog. Geological Association of Canada. 42 (4): 15-16. Winter 2014.
  14. ^ Arhin, Kwame, ed. The Papers of George Ekem Ferguson: A Fanti Official of the Government of the Gold Coast, 1890-1897. Leiden: Africka-Studiecentrum, 1974.
  15. ^ Hannah, Gay. History Of Imperial College London, 1907-2007. p. 752.

External links

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