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Beit restored

The historic Beit Quadrangle, originally built in 1910 but extended throughout the last century, has reopened to house 300 students.

The Rector, Lady Beit and Sir Alan Munro
The Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, Lady Beit and Sir Alan Munro
Refurbishment has created student study bedrooms and conference accommodation during vacations, as well as improved facilities for Imperial College Union.

At an official reopening of Beit Hall last Friday, rector, Sir Richard Sykes, thanked Lady Beit for reopening Beit Hall. "It is a rare privilege to be able to renew links with a family that had such a profound and lasting effect on the formation of Imperial College," he told assembled guests.

Lunch in the Union, May 1962
Lunch in the Union, May 1962
"Alfred and Otto Beit began a tradition of benefaction and support for education and scientific research which was continued by College Fellow, Sir Alfred Lane Beit, on the death of his father Otto. It continues today through the Beit Trustees who we are delighted to have here today."

Alfred Beit and his co-founder and funder of the Royal School of Mines building, Sir Julius Wernher, are commemorated in the stone entrance to the building on Prince Consort Road as shining examples of Victorian philanthropy. Without their bequests neither that building, nor the Quadrangle, would exist.

Construction on Aston Webbs designs began in 1910, with an extension, the addition of two floors, in the late 1950s.

"Aston Webb understood the importance of student accommodation and residential study to an institution such as Imperial," continued the rector. "The College is a community, an international family of students, staff and alumni, and living conditions for our students are of the utmost importance.

"We have very many reasons to thank the Beit family. In the Beit Quadrangle, we can see the magnificent result of Sir Ottos very generous bequest."

After a tour of the accommodation, Lady Beit presented the rector with a photograph of the original Wernher and Beit office in Kimberley, South Africa, made of corrugated iron.

"Alfred Beit was a kindly man of integrity and a philanthropist who gave money in the interest of science," she said. "Im glad to say theres still a close connection. My husbands nephew, Alan, is a trustee and has been a member of the governing Council for the last six years.

"Its a really great honour to open this. The association between the College and my family is as old as Imperial College. Its a superb building that does honour to the original benefactor. Our familys association spans four generations and the reconstruction of Beit Hall offers practical advantages which didnt exist before."

*** © Imperial College 2001. This article originally appeared in IC Reporter, the staff newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Please contact the editor Tanya Reed (Email:, Telephone: +44 20 7594 6697) for permission to re-use any or all parts of this article.***