The establishment of Aberystwyth University is one of the great romantic, indeed heroic, stories of modern Welsh history. It was the work of a small group of patriots, led by Hugh Owen, a London Welshman, who sought from the 1850s onwards to raise enough money by public and private subscription to establish a college of university status in Wales. It was almost an impossible ambition. In 1872, the University was opened in a half-finished hotel building on the sea front in Aberystwyth. There were 26 ill-prepared students and a teaching staff of three.