In 2016, the college merged with City and Islington College to form Capital City College Group; in late 2017, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London joined, making the group one of the largest colleges in the UK.
Our Victoria Centre has a long history of education in the hospitality and culinary arts industry and in 2010, the School of Hospitality celebrated its 100th anniversary. As part of the centenary celebrations, the college welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales on a visit to the Victoria Centre where he toured the teaching kitchens and met staff and students.
The School of Hospitality was formed one hundred years ago when a committee of concerned academics and hospitality representatives, which included Auguste Escoffier and Isidore Salmon, came together to develop a school for professional cookery. Many of London’s finest hotels were being opened during this period in a new age of hospitality for the 20th century, including the Ritz Hotel London opened in 1906, the Waldorf Astoria in 1908 and the family-run Goring Hotel in 1910.
The ‘Westminster Technical Institute’ was established in 1894 in a two-storey building, provided by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who had founded the nearby St. Stephen’s Church on Rochester Row and the Burdett-Coutts School. Initially, evening classes were offered in subjects such as building and plumbing trades, carriage-building, and elementary subjects, however, the institute soon offered a wide range of industrial related courses and held examinations for the City & Guilds and the Society of Arts.
Following the consultations with the hospitality industry in London, the Catering School first opened its doors in 1910 under the guidance of the first Principal, J. Stuart Ker. Records show that this was in fact the first Culinary Arts School to open in the UK. The initial prospectus illustrates the range of courses that were offered, including Civil Engineering, Gas Engineering, Architecture and Construction, Cabinet Making, School of Art and finally, the Cookery Technical Day School, which developed into the Professional Chef Diploma. By 1912, catering had four pages in the prospectus and a ‘School for Waiters’ was added, with a training restaurant, now called The Vincent Rooms, open to students.
At the time, the majority of head chefs employed in London were from France, led by the Chef de Cuisine Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel. Auguste Escoffier founded the Société Culinaire Française with Chef Emile Fetu in 1903, later to merge with the Club Culinaire to become the Association Culinaire Française. The interwar years saw the continuation of the evening classes in engineering and art and the day courses in catering. Mr Ker, Principal since 1907, was replaced in 1932 by Dr G. N. Long. Major extensions to the building in Vincent Square, particularly to incorporate the needs of the catering courses, followed. Large scale catering equipment, cold rooms, a larder and pastry areas were added in 1932. A two-year Hotel Managers’ course was established alongside the food service course.
In 1951 the Vincent Rooms restaurant was extended and in 1953, the Escoffier Room opened; a fine dining room named after Auguste Escoffier. During this period further kitchens were added as well as a wine cellar. The number of courses for both chefs and front of house students also continued to grow.
In 2010, the School of Hospitality celebrated its 100th anniversary. As part of the centenary celebrations, the College welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales on a visit to the Victoria Centre where he toured the teaching kitchens and met staff and students as well as a group from the Princes Trust that were being trained by the College.
In 2012, Westminster Kingsway College launched its new innovative teaching kitchens at the Victoria Centre with a launch event for stakeholders, sponsors, College Governors, staff and students. The new facilities include Baroness Burdett-Coutts Kitchen for International Culinary students; Culinary Science and Kitchen Innovation Laboratory; and Chocolate Laboratory.
Today, the Victoria Centre houses the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Travel and Tourism, Business and IT courses, Higher Education and Foundation Degrees and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) as well as the college’s famous restaurant, the Vincent Rooms.
Located at the junction of Gray’s Inn Road and Sidmouth Street, the King’s Cross Centre began its history as part of the former Princeton College, and then Kingsway Princeton College, in the 1970s.
In 2009, the King’s Cross Centre was rebuilt under the Government’s ‘Building Colleges for the Future’ programme. The centre was officially opened by Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs.
Located in the heart of London’s West End is the college’s Soho Centre, which has been used to provide language courses since 1913. It was previously founded as the Pulteney General Institute in September 1882 at the site of the Crown Street School in Soho. The Institute was founded to provide evening classes appropriate to the needs of the local community which included language classes. The “Pulteney” moved to Peter Street in Soho in 1913. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Soho Centre was home to the School of Languages and General Studies.
Today, the Soho Centre provides a large part of the College’s ESOL and English Language provision as well as being the location of the Creative Media Hub and 01zero-one. The Creative Media Hub and 01zero-one provides industry led skills development and training for London’s audio visual and digital media industries. In the heart of Soho, its basement location can be hired for conferences, exhibitions, parties, meetings, editing and training sessions and has a fully equipped broadcast Film Studio.