The college was founded in 1877 by the UMFC for the sons of middle-class Methodists. Despite its early reputation for sound, broadly based education, by 1905 it had a huge capital debt, unrepaired buildings and only 32 pupils. Its recovery was due to the vision of the Rev. Alfred Soothill, headmaster 1905-1927 In 1930 it merged, on its own site, with New College, a Baptist foundation in Harrogate whose premises became the Junior School, and in 1932 with Elmfield College, York. During World War II the school was evacuated to Bowness-on-Windermere and its premises were occupied by the RAF. It reverted to full independence in 1976 following the withdrawal of the government's Direct Grant regulations. A Girls' Boarding House was added in 1985. In 2003 there were over 860 pupils, including 585 in the senior school.