The RVC has a fascinating history, which began with the foundation of the Veterinary College, London, and the establishment of the veterinary profession in the UK.
In the racing seasons of 1769 and 1770 a horse called Eclipse dominated English horse-racing. Eclipse was retired from racing in 1770 unbeaten and stood at stud until he died in 1789, at the age of 25.
Veterinary expertise was needed to understand the cause of Eclipse’s death and the secret of his racing success. The only qualified vet in the country at the time was Frenchman Charles Benoit Vial de St Bel, who was gaining support for his plan to establish a vet school. St Bel had the support of the Odiham Agricultural Society, whose members recognised the need for a better understanding of animal husbandry and disease. A London committee was set up to establish a vet school, whose members included Granville Penn, grandson of William Penn.
The Veterinary College, London, was built in the parish of St Pancras in 1791, on the current site of The RVC’s Camden Campus and in January 1792, four students began a three-year course intended to cover all aspects of the veterinary art. In 1875 the College received its first Charter of Incorporation from Queen Victoria. Over one hundred years, the College had grown from a horse infirmary with a handful of students to a science based institution, producing internationally-renowned veterinarians and scientists.
Leading lights in veterinary science
John McFadyean, the first modern veterinary scientist in England, joined the RVC as professor of pathology and bacteriology in 1891. McFadyean established a research institute in animal pathology, which contributed to fight against tuberculosis and glanders as major diseases of man and animals.
His successor, Frederick Hobday, launched famous ‘Giant Nosebag Appeal’, fundraising campaign, which led to the College buying the freehold of the Camden site and starting to build modern facilities to support veterinary scientists.
The College's association with pioneering female veterinarians such as Olga Uvarov - the first woman to become President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1934, is symbolic of our continuing desire to provide equality of education for all.
A focus on veterinary and biological sciences
In 1949 The Royal Veterinary College became a full part of the University of London, whilst retaining its independence with its own Royal Charter, and in 1955 the College acquired a country estate in Hertfordshire to provide a new field station; today our modern and vibrant Hawkshead campus.
More recent developments include the building of the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals in Hertfordshire, which today treats over 7,000 patients a year and, in 2001, seventy-six years after the opening of the College's Research Institute in Animal Pathology at Camden, the establishment of the London Bioscience Innovation Centre, which houses over 40 life science companies.