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Our History

From humble beginnings 138 years ago, Lincoln College has evolved into a College Group, spanning two counties (Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire in the UK) and three continents, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China.

Take a wander through the years below and see the key developments in our history, from new buildings, to the Principals and CEOs who have made the key decisions to expand our group beyond Lincoln and the United Kingdom.


1886: Lincoln college is founded

Lincoln College developed from the Lincoln School of Science and Art, which opened 27th Sept 1886. The first Head was Mr A B Griffiths.


1893: Purpose-built engineering workshops opened

Purpose-built engineering workshops were added on the north side of the original building (now known as Gibney Building) at a cost of £1,428 2s 3d.


1898: New Principal

Mr A E Collis became principal. He had been employed in the drawing office of Ruston, Proctor & Co before embarking on a career in education.  He took over from Mr J H Belcher.


1901: School re-named

The School of School of Science and Art is handed to over to the City Corporation and renamed the City of Lincoln Municipal Technical School.


1908: New Extension

Formal opening of new extension to original building incorporating large science laboratory, advanced electrical laboratory, a lecture theatre, a gymnasium and a dining room.


1910: A National First

The first part-time classes of engineering apprentices began. These were some of the very first in the country. Courses included Mathematics, Engineering, Drawing and Mechanics.

Apprentices attended on Monday of each week without loss of wages, and in some special cases the firms also paid the fees (£1 10s 0d for the course).


1914: The Great War

The school continued to operate during the war, organising training classes for munition workers, training over 400 girls for local firms.

The war claimed the lives of 70 “Old Boys”.


1928: Time for a change

Lincoln Municipal Technical School starts to emerge as three distinct entities, the Lincoln Technical College, the City School and Lincoln School of Art.


1931: End of an era

After 31 years as head of the institution Mr Collis retires as principal and is replaced by Mr E R Walter, who had been Head of the Engineering Department and a former apprentice with Clayton and Shuttleworth.


1932: New Beginnings

Lincoln Technical College moves to its own premises on Cathedral Street. The building was designed by Mr W G Watkins, who had designed the “Gibney Building” extension in 1908.


1937: Continuing to grow

The rise in student numbers and the necessity to meet the development of the college warrants the need of a two story extension to the Cathedral Street building.


1957: New building to cope with demand

A four-storey concrete extension, contrasting significantly with the architecture of the 1930s is  built on the east end of Cathedral Street.


1961: New Principal takes over

Mr Geoffrey Church takes over as Principal on the retirement of Dr Walters after 40 years of service with the college, 30 of which were as head of the organisation.


1961: Growing demand see new building opened

Abbey building as it is now known is opened. Containing five floors and costing £194,489, the building provided accommodation for a wide range of studies and to provide social areas for student’s, including a canteen.


1962: A period of expansion

The ex Rainforth Showroom on the corner of Temple Street and Monks road is purchased.


1964: Further expansion

A new for home for liberal and general studies is opened in the former NAAFI on Park Street in Lincoln. The annexe is renamed the Further Education Centre.


1967: A change of name

The college reached a significant stage in its development  in November 1967 when it was designated the Lincoln College of Technology.


1969: Another new building is opened

Bishops Building (originally known as Lindum building) is opened on the site of the former abattoir.


1975: Temporary accommodation demolished

Erected in 1947 to meet to the growing demand for domestic science, dressmaking and commercial studies, the prefabricated buildings on Abbey street were demolished after nearly 30 years of use.


1978: Old cattle market site gets new lease of life

The college expands further by developing the lower half of the site previously occupied by the cattle market. The two new buildings, Monks and Deans cost £800,000 to build.


1981: Goodbye Mr Church

After 20 years as Principal of the college Geoffrey Church retires and is succeeded by Arthur Ridings who becomes the sixth Principal of the College.    


1986: 100 years of education!

During the academic year 1986/87 the college celebrated its centenary. The celebrations began with a service of thanksgiving at Lincoln Cathedral. The highlight of the year was a visit by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester.


1987: Three become one

Through the combining of Lincoln, Louth & Gainsborough Colleges, Lincoln College of Technology becomes North Lincolnshire College.


1989: Changes at the top

Dr Allan Crease is appointed Principal after the resignation of Arthur Ridings, who left to take up a role of Director of Education for Lincolnshire County Council.


1993: New reception opens

Built mainly from glass to give maximum light, the new reception opened on the front of Monks Building. The new facility also brought together guidance services and general office functions.


1994: Former Principal remembered

A derelict piece of land at the far end of Cathedral Street is turned into a Halls of Residence at a cost of £1.2 million. The building is named after much respected former Principal Geoffrey Church.  


1995: A new centre for Gainsborough learners

Built at a cost of £2.25million, the new Gainsborough Centre on Acland Street, opened its doors for the first time.


1998: Old courthouse gets new lease of life

Sessions House, Lincoln’s former prison and magistrates court reopened after a £2.4 million refurbishment to create a new teaching space for catering & hospitality and travel & tourism.


2000: New Principal takes charge

John Allen becomes the 8th principal of the institute following the resignation of Dr Allen Crease.   


2002: New name, new identity

North Lincolnshire College becomes Lincoln College. A new logo was introduced at the same time.


2003: New learning facility opened

The Friary Learning Centre (FLC) is opened. The new build, combining a traditional library and IT Centre was built in an area between Abbey Building and the Monks Road shop frontage of Temple Building. 


2004: Campus developments continue

Abbey Building reopens after £5million refurbishment, which started in September 2003.

A complete transformation has taken place with a new refectory, now known as the Corner House Restaurant.

New science laboratories on the top floor and general classrooms for A levels gave this building some much needed modernization.


2004: Extension for building and construction courses

Two new extensions where added to Temple building to create larger teaching spaces for construction crafts courses. 


2006: A bigger welcome for visitors

A new and enlarged reception area and Student Services accommodation was completed.


2007: Merger takes place

The formal merger between Lincoln College and Newark & Sherwood College is confirmed, with Newark & Sherwood College being renamed as Newark College, joining Lincoln College and Gainsborough College under the leadership of Principal, John Allen.     


2007: New centre for performing arts

Knights Building (the former Tradex superstore) becomes the new home for Performing Arts, Music and Plastering. The building was built in 1871.


2008: Tranquil retreat created for students

A redundant patch of land behind the north block at Newark College is transformed into an oasis of calm known as the Woodland Walk, with a wide range of fauna and flora, a small stream and resting places.


2012: Deans building reopens

The biggest and most expensive investment in the colleges’ history is opened.

Deans Building, which was originally built in 1978, has undergone an £8m transformation.

Some of the features in the building include a 14m hydro-facility with a pool, steam rooms and sauna, commercial hair and beauty salons, a commercial fitness suite, squash courts, dance studio and class rooms.


2013: New location key to success

Student and staff from the Newark Piano School moved into their much need new home on Appletongate, the former location of Newark Magistrate’s Court.   


2014: Goodbye Principal Hello CEO

After nearly 14 years as Principal of Lincoln College John Allen retires, and is replaced by Gary Headland, who becomes the College’s first Chief Executive Officer and 9th head of the organisation.


2014: Student Hub opens

Monks Building opens after a £4.5 million investment. The redevelopment housed the new library, student common room and a Centre for Professional Excellence.


2014: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2014: In a landmark move, the Group starts operating colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Qatief Female College.


2016: Exciting new learning opportunity announced

Following closely from February’s announcement on the launch the UK’s first Construction Career College, Lincoln College announced the launch of a new Career College in Air & Defence, supported by The Royal Air Force.

The two new colleges were located at Lincoln (Air Defence) and Gainsborough (Construction) and were opened in September 2016.


2016: The Air & Defence Career College official opening

Britain’s first ever Air & Defence Career College, part of the Lincoln College Group, welcomed its first intake of students with an opening and matriculation ceremony.

The Career College, which opened its doors on 5th September 2016, was supported by the Royal Air Force and top global aerospace engineering firms including Raytheon, Thales, AAR Corp and BAES.

The career college was opened by Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, the Air Officer Commanding No 22 Group.

2016: Business award winners


Lincoln College Group (LCG) won the Exporter of the Year award at the Lincolnshire Business Awards

The award was given in recognition of the Group’s export of education, training and expertise to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, China and Europe.


2017: Engineering in Saudi

Lincoln College Group secured a £58m contract to run a higher education applied engineering college in Saudi Arabia.


2017: CEO Export Champion

Lincoln College Group (LCG) CEO Gary Headland was announced as one of the first Export Champions for the Midlands by the Department for International Trade.


2018: Digital Academy launch

Lincoln College launched the Risual Microsoft Digital Academy. The Academy filled critical skills gaps across the county by providing apprenticeship training in IT, software development, digital marketing and cyber security.


2019: Sustainable building

Lincoln College launched a new training facility be led by local construction firms – to put it at the cutting edge of emerging low carbon building techniques.


2019: Care College launched

The Care College, plugging critical skills shortages in the region, was officially opened by Chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Employment and Skills Board, Pat Doody.


2019: International award

Lincoln College was named International Business of the Year at the Lincolnshire Live Business Awards.


2019: Policing College launched

Lincoln College and Lincolnshire Police launched a new Policing College to train school leavers and current staff.

 This new approach to training for policing careers sees the College upskilling serving police officers and staff via a range of apprenticeships, including cyber security awareness training for detectives.


2019: COVID-19 lockdown

Lincoln College Group joins the national lockdown as a result of emergency measures related to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Through extremely challenging times college staff and students kept calm and carried on, with remote learning and support continuing throughout thanks to our amazing people.


2019: Tourism and Hospitality in Saudi

2019: Lincoln College International secured a contract to run the International Technical College for Tourism and Hospitality in Saudi Arabia.


2020: Canine recruit

Lincoln College welcomed a new addition to its team in the shape of a three-year-old miniature labradoodle called Amber

The Labrador/poodle cross joined Lincoln College as its ‘faculty dog’, benefitting students and staff in a variety of ways from being a calming presence to people with any anxiety issues to helping learners destress during their exams.

Amber was the first of number of dogs that have worked on-campus since.


2021: Lincoln College Group reopens after the national lockdown ends

After several periods of lockdown, the College emerges from the Pandemic and normal life and study patterns resume.


2021: Human Alchemy

Lincoln College Group bought leadership consultancy firm, Human Alchemy, with the intent of growing the brand into a global leader.


2021: Large Business of the Year

Lincoln College was named Large Business of the Year at the Lincolnshire Live Business Awards.


2021: You know The Drill!

Lincoln College Group takes ownership of Lincoln Drill Hall.

Responsibility for the Drill Hall transferred from the Lincoln Arts Trust to Lincoln College Group (LCG).

After a rebrand to The Drill and £1m investment from the Lincoln Towns Fund, it reopened as a live entertainment and events venue that acts as a finishing school for College students and apprentices.


2021: New construction centre for Newark

The ribbon was cut on a new Construction Centre of Excellence at Newark College.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government officially opened the new plumbing and gas training centre at Newark.


2020: New college in Saudi

Lincoln College International secured a contract to run the Inspection Technology and Quality Assurance National Institute in Saudi Arabia.


2021: College Aura

Lincoln College Group CEO Gary Headland cut the ribbon on Aura - its new city-centre professional hair and beauty salon today.

This commercial venture also acts as a finishing school for hair and beauty students and apprentices to hone their skills in a live industry environment.


Lincoln College Institute of Technology launched

Lincoln College Group's multi-million-pound Institute of Technology (IoT) opened its doors to learners for the first time following a £4.6m refurbishment of the Gibney Building.


2021: CEO Gary Headland secures new position

After seven years at the helm of the Lincoln College Group, Gary Headland secured a new position as the Chief Executive of Activate Learning.

Managing Director for Education and Training, Mark Locking, was appointed as Interim Principal and CEO.

2022: Professional Skills Centre opened

2022: Professional Skills Centre opened

Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Pat Doody cut the ribbon on the new facility at Lincoln College.

Training students for careers in health and social care and cyber security, the Digital and Professional Skills Centre represented a £2.5m investment.


2022: New Principal and CEO appointed

Mark Locking was announced as the CEO and Principal of the Lincoln College Group, becoming the 10th head of the organisation.


2022: Air & Space Institute

Construction work started on the new £15.4m Air and Space Institute (ASI) in Newark.

This will become a state-of-the-art training facility for pilots, engineers, ground and cabin crew and software developers for the aviation industry.



2022: College opens fine dining restaurant

The Collage purchased, renovated and reopened the Old Bakery fine dining restaurant in Lincoln as a commercial venture and finishing school for catering students.


New Automotive Centre at Newark

The facility hosts our automotive engineering apprentices and full-time study programme learners at Newark College.


2023: Lincoln School of Food and Hospitality opened

The Lincoln College School of Food and Hospitality was unveiled after a major Town Deal investment.

Michelin Star chef James Mackenzie christened the new kitchens at the College’s School of Food and Hospitality after a £1.1m investment project.

The star-chef, who runs the Pipe and Glass in Yorkshire, cooked with college catering students to celebrate the reopening of the college restaurant and training kitchens.


2024: Ofsted Good

Lincoln College Group colleges achieve Ofsted Good grades and a “Strong” rating for skills.

Lincoln and Newark Colleges, along with the Air & Space Institute, were graded as “Good” in all Ofsted categories after a full inspection in January that year.