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John Henry Brookes OBE (1891–1975) was an English craftsman, artist and educator associated with the predecessor institutions of Oxford Brookes University, which is named in his honour. He was born in Northampton. His father was Head of the Boot and Shoe Department of Leicester College of Technology.

John Henry Brookes

Born(1891-01-31)31 January 1891
Northampton, England
Died29 September 1975 (Aged 84)
Oxford, England
EducationLeicester School of Arts & Crafts
Alma materUniversity of Oxford[1]
OccupationArtist, craftsman, illustrator, author, educator, administrator and academic principal
Known forOxford Brookes University, artist, writer and scholar

Brookes trained in Silversmithing at the Chipping Campden Guild of Handicrafts. He was an accomplished artist but became both an inspirational teacher and accomplished administrator. In 1922 he was appointed as a part-time teacher of sculpture in the Oxford City School of Arts and Craft.

In 1934 the technical and art schools were merged as the Schools of Technology Art and Commerce. John Henry Brookes was the first Principal. There were 10 full-time staff and 1,284 students. By 1946 the Schools were in 19 sites around the city and John Henry Brookes had of necessity become an accomplished cyclist.

With the spread of the Schools around the town there was a great desire to move them all onto one site. The Morrells brewing family offered 33 acres at the top of Headington Hill and plans were drawn up. Unfortunately the City Council turned them down. There was a great public protest and a citizens meeting was held in a packed Town Hall. Eventually the plans were approved. The foundation stone was laid by Lord Nuffield.

John Henry Brookes encouraged printing as a discipline in the college and also had many of his own drawings published. For many years his pen and ink drawings were a regular feature of the Oxford Times.

He was very much involved in the Oxford community and was on many committees especially those concerned with young people. He served as a magistrate for many years and when he retired from the College he became one of the directors of the Oxford Playhouse. Built on John Henry Brookes's solid foundations the Schools of Technology Art and Commerce evolved into Oxford College of Technology, Oxford Polytechnic, and finally into Oxford Brookes University.


John Henry Brookes: Craftsman, Educator, Administrator Edited by A.Stuart Addison. Oxford Polytechnic Press (Nov 1979)


  1. ^ "Initial Oxford Brookes: What's in a name?". BBC University. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2015.

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