Our history

The School of Creative Arts has a rich history of education dating back over a hundred years. The School as we know it today began life in 1890 as the St Albans School of Art, but by 1906, the name had changed to the St Albans School of Art and Craft, following a report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools which stated that the School had a “sound curriculum”, and “well qualified staff” with “good, careful, and painstaking teaching”.

The School originally ran the foundation national diploma and daytime and evening short courses for adults and children, ranging in price from 4 shillings to £2 and 5 shillings - around £2.25 in today’s money.

Fast-forward to the early 1970s, and art and design education began to see radical changes as independent regional art schools were brought into either the university or polytechnic management systems. Following this, the courses the School of Art and Design offered were moved to a new, purpose-built school on Hatfield Road in St. Albans in 1973. It was subsequently known as Hertfordshire College of Art and Design, and its foundation course enjoyed a high level of regard as a feeder college to the BA circuit.

Our history gallery

Making the leap from foundation to undergraduate education

Based on this outstanding reputation, the college proposed the development of a degree programme in Fine Art during the 1980s. This programme was unique, as at the time, it was the only exclusively part-time Fine Art programme in the country to be validated by the Council for National Academic Awards. This successful programme led to the development of a full-time mode, which was validated in 1990.

In 1993, the College of Art and Design made the decision to merge with Hatfield Polytechnic, the primary regional provider of higher education. The College of Art and Design then became the Faculty of Art and Design within the reconstituted polytechnic, which later became the University of Hertfordshire.

A rich history in the Hertfordshire community

To accommodate the expanded School of Art and Design, the School was rehoused in the British Aerospace buildings in Hatfield, housing the Fine Art, Product Design, Model Making, Graphics and Art Therapy programmes, alongside the foundation programme. The Art Therapy programme was actually the course that put St. Albans on the map as the first art school to teach Art Therapy, and the School still remains one of the most popular providers in the UK.

Following a major new build on the Hatfield College Lane campus, the School was rehoused to its current site and renamed the School of Creative Arts. During the last ten years, the School has gone through an enormously adventurous and demanding phase of expansion, developing an impressive portfolio of courses under the umbrellas of design, film and media, visual arts, music, and therapies.

The School has not lost its roots as a regional art and design school, but it has evolved to become a contemporary industry-facing international community that not only teaches creative arts subjects, but links students and graduates to successful and rewarding careers and opportunities all over the world.