The son of an ex-sailor and a farmer’s daughter, Thomas Holloway was born in Devonport in 1800. He began to make ointments and pills in 1837, claiming their use could cure a number of ailments. Thomas became a driving force behind the establishment of the pharmaceutical industry, and was a pioneer of mass advertising. By 1855 Holloway had become a household name, and his business had expanded world wide. He also fought hard to improve mental health care, and at the age of 64, he decided to build a sanatorium with the fortune he had amassed.
In 1872, Thomas formed an important partnership with the architect William Crossland, and the following year, work began on Holloway’s Sanatorium (now Crossland House) at Virginia Water. The asylum for 200 paying patients was opened in 1885 by Edward, Prince of Wales, and the building continued to be used as a hospital until 1981.
Holloway was a champion of female education, and decided to build a college for women in 1874 to provide the middle and upper classes with the best possible schooling. The college was founded in 1883 and Thomas died in December of that year. The Royal Holloway College, Egham, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, and the first 28 female students arrived in 1887. The first non-residential male students enrolled 60 years later. The Royal Holloway merged with Bedford Colleges in 1985, and became Royal Holloway, University of London in 1992.