In 1875 a small Georgian country house at Calver, near Sheffield, was leased by Henry Grattan Guinness for training evangelists for work in the East End of London. In 1903, the property, then called 'Hulmecliffe College' (after its Congregationalist founder James Hulme) was bought by the WM Home Mission Committee to locate the Joyful News Training Home and Mission, building on the earlier work of Thomas Champness in Rochdale. Its first Principal, Thomas Cook, united holiness teaching with evangelistic zeal. He was succeeded in 1912 by his assistant, Samuel Chadwick, the editor of Joyful News. Chadwick established the mission teams and developed the summer schools begun by Cook. In the 1920s he began the Whitsuntide meetings, first in Sheffield and then at Cliff. The summer evangelistic campaigns by 'trekkers' toured the country for two or three months. The first women students were admitted in 1965. More recently, as well as lay training for evangelism and preaching schools, further ministerial education has been provided through an MA in Evangelism. The College was a designated college of the University of Sheffield, offering a range of courses in Evangelism, Missiology and Apologetics; they are now validated by the University of Manchester.
Chadwick's successors as Principal were John A. Broadbelt (1932-1948), J.E. Eagles (1948-1957), Thomas Meadley (1957-1965), Howard Belben (1965-1977), A.Skevington Wood (1977-1983), William R. Davies (1983-1994) and G. Howard Mellor.