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Bravo Beyer! Celebrating historic benefactor’s 200th birthday

14 May 2013

The University of Manchester today celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of its greatest personal benefactor.

Charles Frederick Beyer donated £10 million in today's money
Charles Frederick Beyer donated £10 million in today's money

Charles Frederick Beyer (1813–1876) donated the equivalent of almost £10 million in today’s money to the University’s predecessor institutions, including funds for an endowed professorship in Applied Mathematics that still exists, and contributions towards the construction of the main Oxford Road site which includes the building bearing his name.

Born in Germany to humble beginnings, Beyer won a scholarship to attend university before coming to Manchester in 1834 to work as a locomotive engineer. Twenty years later he founded the pioneering firm Beyer, Peacock & Company which produced almost 8,000 locomotives until its closure in 1966. 

Beyer was heavily involved in the economic and educational development of the city, including the Mechanics Institute, later UMIST, and Owens College, later the Victoria University of Manchester. His philanthropic support of Owens College, in particular, was instrumental in the college making its move from its original site at Quay Street down to Oxford Road.

As well as bequeathing funds towards construction, Beyer contributed to scholarships and professorships, including the Beyer Chair in Applied Mathematics. This Professorship was first held by Arthur Schuster from 1881-1888 and has been continually held ever since – Professor David Abrahams has been the current Chair since 1998.

Chris Cox, the University's Director of Development, said: "We are delighted to mark the 200th anniversary of Beyer's birth and to celebrate his legacy. Beyer remains a major figure in the history of engineering and economic development in Manchester and was pioneering and far-sighted in his deep philanthropic support for education and this University.

"Beyer’s story demonstrates how donor support has played a pivotal role in shaping the University throughout its history. Donations are still as crucial today in ensuring we continue to offer the very best opportunities and facilities to our students, staff and researchers."


Notes for editors

Media enquiries to:

Aeron Haworth
Media Relations
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8387