Old College; Aberystwyth

I have now returned from my weekend in Aberystwyth, and what a weekend it was, I’m not sure I have walked quite so much since being at university. Carrying on from my previous blog post, about Aberystwyth Castle, this post will focus primarily of the Old College building which still belongs to the university in Aberystwyth.

Old College is located on the sea front next to Aberystwyth Castle and St. Michael’s Church. Old College was the original site of the University of Aberystwyth in 1872.

Old College

Old College

A Little History

The original part of the building was designed by John Nash to be a hotel, this part of the building is called Castle House. The building was sold to the University of Aberystwyth for a cut down price after the construction company ran out of money.

At the time of its construction, Old College though on the sea front would have been near the edge of a cliff face, the promenade was not built until the 1880s.

Prior to the construction of an extension to Old College, large parts of the north wing were destroyed in a fire. A lack funding put the future of Old College in doubt, until it was decided following a grant in 1884, to develop Old College into a building that suits the needs of the University of Aberystwyth, leading to construction of a science block on the south of the building (castle side).

Science Block Extension

Science Block Extension

Aside from being a newer building than much of the existing Old College structure, the science block addition also included on striking feature, visible from the Castle and South Promenade; the mural on the tower.



The mural depicts a thinking king, with two men holding a train and a boat. This represents the belief of the University of Aberystwyth board, that “Development of science is what makes technological advances possible”. The depiction of the boat and train represent the technological advances happening at the time of the murals creation. The initial purpose for the Castle Hotel, was for middle class visitors following the construction of the train line.

Current Use

Nowadays, Old College is used by the School of Art at Aberystwyth University having had most of the administrative departments relocated to the main campus. The School of Art use the Old College for additional teaching and studio space, with “Life drawing classes take place in a spectacular hall with a high wood-vaulted ceiling and tall Gothic windows that look directly over the sea”. Old College housed the old university library until 2011 when it was closed. I remember going in there twice, to get a book the main library did not have, it was quite a strange building inside, though I confess I did not take the time to explore it as I really ought to have done.


Memorable Quotes

For those who have endeavoured to read the above, though it may not be your liking, may you be rewarded with a few memorable quotes from the weekend:-

Kate: “EVERYONE’S heard of rizzlekicks”
Me: “What are Riddle Sticks?!”
Phil: “Dean doesn’t know any music since Mozart”

Kate to me: “That’s maybe why I love you, you’re like my Grandma”

Me: “Does your shower hurt?”
Kate: “Hurt? No, our shower is perfect”
Phil: “Ours feels like it’s peeling off your skin”
Laura: “My shower doesn’t even work”

Kate to me: “Why aren’t you coming to Ynyslas with us, because there is no history for you to blog about?”

Me to Kate via whatsapp: “Mozart’s playing”

Continuing the Aberystwyth series, Part Three will focus on Constitution Hill and the Cliff Railway. I am now going to go read Pride and Prejudice and sleep whilst pondering what I can next write about.


2 thoughts on “Old College; Aberystwyth

  1. I am currently studying at Aberystwyth University, School of Art. One of my modules is to be part of curating team, for an exhibition of works taken from the school of art’s collection, by unknown / anonymous artists. One of the two pieces I chose to curate, is a watercolour of Lady Caroline’s House – (Castle House) 1840.
    This post was really helpful on providing some information. I was wondering where did you gather the information for this post from?

    Thank you 🙂

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