Frederick and Mary Attenborough
In 1932 Frederick Attenborough was appointed as the second Principal of University College, Leicester.
In support of his application to become Principal, F.F. Potter, Director of Education for Cheshire, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Professor H. Munro Chadwick, wrote:
1932 was a challenging time in the University College’s history. Having been in existence for only 10 years, it was still a very small institution, financed primarily by private subscription and endowment.
Attenborough, however, brought the same ‘astonishing enthusiasm and vision’ and ‘notable energy’ that he had demonstrated at Isleworth to his new post. Despite the Depression, he was extremely successful in attracting donations and grants, thus enabling the College to expand its buildings, facilities and student numbers.
He devoted much energy to presenting the case for University Grants Committee funding, work which eventually bore fruit in May 1945, the news being hailed by the Leicester Mail as ‘the most important announcement in [the College’s] history’.
At the end of the war, the College, guided by Attenborough, embarked on a period of rapid expansion – new halls of residence, sports grounds, the addition of new subjects (such as social work and education), the creation of professorships from 1946 onwards.
This all culminated in the College’s success in securing a Royal Charter in December 1950, shortly before his retirement through ill health.
Frederick’s main recreation was photography – he had ambitions of setting up a photographic department at the University College. He contributed a fine series of images to Pevsner’s The Leaves of Southwell and provided photographs for W.G. Hoskins’ The Heritage of Leicestershire and Midland England. His correspondence shows that he had ambitions of setting up a photographic department at the University College:
In his introduction on the occasion of the conferment of a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship on Sir David Attenborough, a former Vice-Chancellor alluded to David’s role in his father’s photographic expeditions: