The college was formed as a union of the Hartley (PM) and Victoria Park (UM) Colleges in Manchester after Methodist Union. The Duckworth, Lewins and Ranmoor chairs perpetuated links with the UM tradition on the Hartley site. During World War II the college was taken over by the YMCA, but reopened in 1945. After three years of indecision about redeveloping and upgrading the premises to provide a major theological college accommodating 80 students, the Conference of 1972 decided to close the Manchester college, rather than the Bristol one, on financial grounds.
The college community then moved to the building of the Northern Baptist College. Out of this developed an ecumenical partnership, the Partnership for Theological Education, which later embraced also the Northern College (serving the United Reformed Church, the Congregational Federation and the Moravians) the Unitarian College, and the Church of England through the Northern Ordination Course. Whilst the latter, although within the partnership, developed its independent programme, the Free Church partners developed a Manchester University validated programme in Contextual Theology offering BA, MA, Phil and PhD degrees. This is offered not only to those sponsored by the various churches, principally for preparation for or within ordained ministry, but also to others interested in studying contextual theology and to an increasing number of international students. In 2007 the North West Training Partnership was launched, embracing also the dioceses of Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. The original Hartley Victoria College building was initially sold to the Northern School of Music, which in turn later sold it to the Kassim Darwish Muslim Grammar School for Boys. The building of the Northern Baptist College, renamed Luther King House, is now vested with an Educational Trust, in which the Methodist Church is a stakeholder. Hartley Victoria continues to be staffed by three tutors, serving both the region and the work at Luther King House.