London College of Music

LCM History

130 years logo

We're the largest specialist music and performing arts institution in the UK and this year we're celebrating our 130 year anniversary.

As we celebrate 130 years of music education at London College of Music, I am reminded of our philosophy of being underpinned by history and tradition, but never bound by it. We live up to this by developing innovative and varied courses, supported by state-of-the-art facilities and academics who are active in industry and also research, which prepare our students for successful careers in tomorrow’s music industry. Sara Raybould, Director of the London College of Music

The LCM was founded in 1887 by G Augustus Holmes, initially at 54 Great Marlborough Street. It began as an examining body, but a teaching element was created quite early in its history which provided facilities for part-time education. The first Director was Alfred J Caldicott who was succeeded by Frederick J Karn in 1897. In 1890 larger accommodation was secured at 7 Great Marlborough Street. In 1895 a greater amount of space became an urgent necessity and removal was made to the building at 47 Great Marlborough Street, where the College remained until 1991. From 1894 to 1899 many popular classes were established at the College together with Orchestra, Operatic Classes and Ladies Choir.

Major changes took place in 1939 to the College structure and organisation. The local examinations system was continued and developed further but an increasing emphasis placed on internal music courses of a full time nature. The government of the College changed and it became an incorporated body and from 1963 until it joined Thames Valley University in 1991 enjoyed charitable status. In 1944 His Majesty's College of Arms granted a patent of Armorial Bearings to the College. This coat of arms is still used as a watermark on LCM certificates and diplomas.

The College was a member of the European Conservatoire and Academics Association. Subsequent Directors included Dr Holmes and Dr Reginald Hunt, throughout the time of which part-time education continued and a Junior Department was established (in 1959).

William Lloyd Webber

The arrival of Dr William Lloyd Webber as Director in 1964 heralded the beginning of the development of a more significant profile for the LCM. Dr Webber's period as Director saw the move ahead more quickly than at any time in its history. He grasped the financial nettle, and as a business which was in debt and losing money, turned the College into a very profitable institution. He introduced full-time study programmes in line with the other music conservatoires and gradually he phased out part-time activities. The space available in the building at Great Marlborough Street was always inadequate but despite the restrictions these imposed, under his leadership the College found an identity. It managed to provide a setting where its students could flourish, and there was always, right up until the time came to leave, a great affection for the old building.  Some outstanding musicians were created; students who have gone on to enter the music profession and rise within it, such as opera singers Rosalind Sutherland and John Treleaven, alongside a procession of good teachers such as Peter Hunter and Paul Harrison who can now be found as Heads of Music Departments in very respectable schools. Others found success in different niches within the profession, such as Edward  Blakeman, BBC Proms producer, Andrew Simpson, composer, David Caddick, top west-end theatrical musical director and Alistair Lilley outstanding Covent Garden repetiteur. When William Lloyd Webber sadly died in 1982 he left a thriving institution in a financially secure position.

Changes inevitably followed. A changing government policy and funding for music education generally, was the catalyst that forced LCM to face harsh reality in the late 20th Century and to accept that either it made radical changes or it would face a death sentence.

John McCabe

John McCabe followed Dr Webber as Director with a brief to give the college a higher and more modern profile. Government changes in funding of students together with a need to make significant improvements to the building to comply with new safety regulations put considerable strain on the financial position of the college. John McCabe had a vision of how he could enlarge and enhance the reputation of LCM. These laudable aspirations required funding which was simply beyond LCM, standing alone as an independent institution. As a result the LCM eventually merged with TVU in 1991. Part of the original agreement was that LCM retain its name which it has done and the examinations department has continued to issue diplomas (ALCM, LLCM, FLCM) following the merger with TVU later to become the University of West London.

William Webb became Director at the time of the move to Ealing and was succeeded by Alistair Creamer and then Patricia Thompson. Linda Merrick was appointed a Head of Music when LCM became LCM2.  Linda left to take up a post at RNCM where she is now the Deputy Principal. She was succeeded by Francis Pott, now Head of Composition and Research and by Dr Christopher Batchelor. With the departure of Dr Chris Batchelor, Sara Raybould became the Director of LCM.