‘Professor’ Thomas Holloway

Thomas Holloway, founder of Royal Holloway University and Holloway Sanatorium, was born September 22nd, 1800 in Devonport, a small town near Plymouth. Thomas Holloway was raised in an entrepreneurial family and would follow proudly in the footsteps of his parents.

After his education in Camborne he spent a brief stint in London before relocating to Roubaix. Though documentation Holloway’s time in Roubaix is slim, he seems to have made a comfortable living for the few years he was there. In 1831 he returned to London and by 1836 was working as foreign and commercial agent. This is where the saga of Holloway’s wealth begins. After fostering connections with Felix Albinolo, an Italian who manufactured and sold all purpose ointment, Holloway embarked on his own business venture.

Holloway’s Medicine and Fortune

Holloway made his money in ointment, attractively packaged, and aimed at the middle and upper middle classes of society. It claimed to be a cure for a variety of things including jaundice, gout, bad legs, and wounds.

Holloway was one of the first to realise the potential of advertising and though it originally put him in debt, it paid off over time and his advertisements began to appear all over the world even including one by the Great Pyramid in Egypt.


Holloway Sanatorium

Wood-engraving from the ‘Illustrated London News’, 5 January 1884

The sanatorium, conceived by Thomas Holloway was designed in an sumptuous Franco-Gothic style by W. H. Crossland and built between 1873 and 1885. It was officially licensed by the Commissioners of Lunacy on the 12th of June 1885 and was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on the 15th June.

When completed the Sanatorium was capable of housing 300, an increase of 100 more inhabitants than was originally planned for. The cost of construction and furnishing was £320,000 which is equivalent to nearly £10 million in today’s currency.

After a fire in 1978, the Sanatorium was officially closed in December of 1981. After extensive restoration, the building still stands today as a developed housing estate.

Holloway College

A Tuck Card published by the now defunct Raphael Tuck & Sons

Royal Holloway was built between 1879 and 1886 on a 38 hectare plot of wooded land. The college was opened by Queen Victoria in June 1886 and would welcome it’s first students on October 3rd, 1887.

By 1900 the College became part of the University of London family and in 1965 allowed the first male undergraduates. In 1985 the University merged with Bedford College to become Royal Holloway and Bedford New College.

Since 1992 the University has operated under the title Royal Holloway, University of London, colloquially known as “RHUL”.


Holloway’s Ladies

Holloway’s Ladies is a historical graphic novel by Royal Holloway University London post-graduate Kirsten Hankins, that follows a modern day student doing research on several of the early women from Royal Holloway College, the predecessor of today’s Royal Holloway University of London. While searching for information about the lives of these women during their time at the College, she comes across their shared interest around the topic of Women’s Suffrage.

The lives of Ellen Charlotte Higgins, Emily Wilding Davison, and Winifred Mary Seville come to life as she continues to research further. Readers travel along, witnessing impassioned debates, sneaking through underground tunnels, and being thrown into prison. Learn about the lives of three very different women who lived during such a pivotal time in Women’s History.