A £30M development has opened at Oxford University’s Pembroke College, featuring the first new bridge over a city street for a century.

The Duke of Kent officially opened the scheme yesterday, including a 170-seat theatre, an art gallery, a cafe and 116 rooms for students.

The new facilities have been built around a new quadrangle and are linked with the 19th century Chapel Quad by the footbridge over the city wall in Brewer Street.

College Bursar John Church said the new development, part-funded by £17m in donations, would mean all 360 undergraduates would now be able to live in college accommodation for all three years.

Until now, second-year students have had to rent rooms in Oxford.

Mr Church said: “If we had not got consent for the bridge, the new building would have been an annexe. This is the first bridge of its kind in Oxford since the Hertford College Bridge of Sighs 100 years ago – it’s the glue that brings the two sites together.”

Master of the college Giles Henderson said the new development was designed to enhance the experience of students and fellows.

He thanked about 1,000 donors who had helped the college reach its £17m fundraising target, including one donor who pledged £300,000 just before the opening.

The Duke of Kent, who unveiled a plaque in the new Pichette Auditorium, congratulated the college on the “magnificent new development”, including the “extraordinary bridge”.

He said: “When you look at it from certain angles it is more or less invisible. The design is very subtle, leading from the old to the new, amid the medieval charms of the old city walls.”

Among the guests were Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Prof Andrew Hamilton, and Lord Patten, Chancellor of the University.

Prof Hamilton said: “There is no doubt this development can be seen as producing an historical physical transformation.”

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes in 1954, was Master of Pembroke College from 1985 to 1993.

He said: “I do like the new bridge – I think it’s brilliant. This development means the student experience is not so much about finding lodgings on the Abingdon or Cowley roads. Students will now be able to concentrate on their studies.”

Lucas Croe, 19, from Cologne, Germany, is studying philosophy, politics and economics and will be living in the new accommodation.

He said: “It’s a very high standard of living and I won’t have to look for accommodation in Oxford — people say it can be quite difficult to find somewhere.”

As part of the new development, the Rokos quad has been built alongside gardens at Campion Hall, the neighbouring theological college. The scheme was designed by architects Berman Guedes Stretton.


THE most striking feature of the development is the glass and steel bridge over Brewer Street.

It’s the first over-street bridge to be constructed in Oxford since Hertford College’s Venetian-style Bridge of Sighs across New College Lane in 1914.

The Pembroke College bridge is the only one to span the remains of the city wall. It was put in place in May 2012.

Hertford Bridge is referred to as the Bridge of Sighs because of the similarity to the famous bridge in Venice.