The Victorians were strong believers in self-improvement and Peel Park gave the opportunity to do just that. In 1850 Lark Hill Mansion at the heart of the new park became the Royal Museum and Library, the first unconditionally free public lending library, featuring reading rooms and an art gallery. The first curator, John Plant was a man of many interests including branches of the arts and sciences. The Victorian idea of self improvement through learning was at it’s height in 1896 when the Royal Technical Institute was opened at Peel Park, a merger of two existing men’s institutes. It was housed in a purpose built college (now the Peel Building) and offered subjects designed to create a skilled workforce for local industries. The subjects covered included engineering, applied physics, mathematics, chemistry, building, dyeing, spinning and weaving as well as art. In the twentieth century more buildings and departments were added to the complex and in 1956 it became the College of Advanced Technology.In 1967 the University of Salford was established and gained a Royal Charter. Now the campus of the university is known as Peel Park and its academic and residential building enwrap the park on three sides. Recent developments of the campus have seen access routes developed and improved to encourage students, visitors and local residents alike to use and enjoy the park as freely as they like.
The park is regularly used as an outdoor classroom, providing opportunities for art and filmmaking, surveying and mapping, technology and wildlife monitoring. Local schools, adult study groups, university departments and individual students are all welcome.