Northern Baptist College was formed in 1963 but the history of Baptist training in the north goes back to the early 19th century.
Rawdon College, situated in the woodland overlooking the river Aire in West Yorkshire, was opened in purpose-built premises in 1859. It replaced the Horton Academy, founded by Yorkshire and Lancashire Baptists in 1804 and housed in an adapted weaving shed in Little Horton, Bradford. Its first Principal, William Steadman aimed to identify and train preachers committed to the task of evangelism.
Both Horton and Rawdon were run under the auspices of the Northern Baptist Education Society. After the move to Rawdon, the raising of academic standards became increasingly important. Students were prepared for degrees at London University and in 1904 Rawdon became affiliated to the new Leeds University. The First World War led to the closure of the Midland Baptist College (originally the Academy of the New Connexion of General Baptists, created in 1798). Most of the assets of Midland College were given to Rawdon.
On the other side of the Pennines, Manchester College was founded in 1866 on strict communion principles. Initially located in Bury, it moved to new premises in Manchester in 1873. Later, it was a founding member of the Theological Faculty of Manchester University.
Several attempts were made to amalgamate Rawdon and Manchester and this was achieved after a proposal by Rawdon in 1961. The new Northern Baptist College was based in new buildings on the Manchester site.
In the 1970s, new schemes of training for ministry began with colleges of other denominations in the city. After the creation of the Northern Federation for Training in Ministry, the main college building was renamed Luther King House. It is owned and managed ecumenically under the auspices of the Partnership of Theological Education, Manchester, in which Northern Baptist College plays a full role.
In recent years a larger part of the College’s educational work has been based in local churches, with regional tutors appointed. To reflect this, there was a name change to Northern Baptist Learning Community. This was adapted again in 2014 with a return to Northern Baptist College, but with the sub-heading ‘A Learning Community’.