Merz Court was officially opened by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson on the 7th of May 1965. Ever since the building has been home to the departments of Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. Chemical Engineering and Mathematics were previously housed in the Stephenson Building on the other side of Claremont Road. The Department of Mathematics dates to 1871 and the foundation of the University of Durham’s College of Science in Newcastle. The department of Electrical Engineering was previously housed in a disused church on King’s Walk, where the Northern Stage building now stands.
Merz Court stands over the route of the Barras Burn and the Victoria Tunnel, a wagonway formerly used to transport coal under the city centre to the River Tyne. The design was influenced by the idea of allowing occupants views out rather than letting light into the large labs and other spaces required. This led the long narrow lines of windows on each floor that make the building distinct.
The building is named after Theodore Merz and his sons Charles and Norbert. Theodore founded the Tyne Electric Supply Company and was a member of College Council for 39 years. Charles, born in 1874, established the successful Merz and McLellan engineering firm which contributed to the planning of the National Grid in the 1920s, he was killed during an air raid on London in 1940.
Visit CollectionsCaptured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives.
Art UK (no date) John Theodore Merz (1840-1922), Chemist, Historian and Industrialist. Available at: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/john-theodore-merz-18401922-chemist-historian-and-industrialist-57384#
Newcastle University (2021) Engineering Facilities. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/engineering/who-we-are/facilities/
Pamphlet commemorating the official opening of Merz Court 1965, NUA/16/07/01/16, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.
Wikipedia (2020) John Theodore Merz. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Theodore_Merz
Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University Campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.