┆The Leicester School of Art was founded at a public meeting was held on 14th October 1869 attended by Leicester citizens. Subscriptions were raised, an organising committee was formed and premises were secured in Pocklington’s Walk. Classes met there for the first time on 1st March 1870. Later the School moved to the Hastings Street extension of New Walk Museum.
Meanwhile the Reverend Jame Went introduced technical, commercial and science classes at the Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys. These classes ran in the evenings at reduced fees for working-class people who wanted to improve their understanding of the science behind their factory work, or who wanted to become clerical or administrative staff. Both schools were successful and soon outgrew their accommodation, while finding it hard to meet financial costs solely on income from voluntary subscriptions.
In 1897 both the School of Art and the Leicester Technical School were taken over by the Town Council of the County Borough of Leicester and renamed the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School. A new building (now known as the Hawthorn Building) was constructed allowing the art and technical classes to be brought together on one site. On the technical side classes included boot and shoe manufacture, engineering, commercial subjects and textiles manufacture, especially hosiery; while on the art side the subjects were fine arts, crafts (such as furniture making or jewellery design), architecture, building trades (bricklaying, plumbing, painting and decorating and so on), printing trades (bookbinding, lithography and typography) and women's crafts (weaving, embroidery, millinery).
The School went through various changes of name. In 1919 it was restructured into two separate departments, called the City of Leicester School of Arts and Crafts and the City of Leicester Technical School. In 1925 this was changed to City of Leicester College of Arts and Crafts and City of Leicester College of Technology, known locally as the 'Art and Tech'. The two Colleges shared premises, management and administration, but had separate Headmasters (later known as Principals).
In 1969 the Colleges formally amalgamated to form the City of Leicester Polytechnic. In 1975 the Polytechnic merged with the Leicester College of Education at Scraptoft, bringing a new campus and new subjects such as youth work, social work, teacher training, performing arts and humanities. In 1992 the institution was awarded university status and changed its name to De Montfort University. In the same year the University opened a campus in Milton Keynes.
In 1994 and 1995 the University expanded further, merging with Lincolnshire College of Art and Design, Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, Bedford College of Higher Education as well as Charles Frears College of Nursing and Midwifery in Leicester. In 2001 the Lincoln campus was transferred to the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside, while in 2003 and 2006 the Milton Keynes and Bedford campuses were sold. In 2008 the Scraptoft site and in 2011 the Charles Frears site were sold, consolidating all activity on the central Leicester campus.