The college was set up to teach practical chemistry. Many politicians donated funds to establish the college, including Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone and Robert Peel. It was also supported by Prince Albert.
The young William Henry Perkin studied and worked at the college under von Hofmann, but resigned his position after discovering the first synthetic dye, mauve, in 1856. Perkin's discovery was prompted by his work with von Hofmann on the substance aniline, derived from coal tar, and it was this breakthrough which sparked the synthetic dye industry, a boom which some historians have labelled 'the second chemical revolution'.
- Site of the Royal College of Chemistry — 22 May 2003, Oxford Street, London
- Chemistry at Imperial College: the first 150 years
- Royal College of Chemistry (Great Britain)
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