Northern Baptist College was formed in 1963 when the Baptist colleges at Rawdon and Manchester amalgamated. Rawdon College, situated in the woodland overlooking the river Aire in West Yorkshire, was opened in purpose built premises in 1859. It replaced a College housed in an adapted weaving shed and warehouse in Little Horton, Bradford. The Horton Academy, as it was first called, was founded by Yorkshire and Lancashire Baptists in 1804. The primary aim of its first Principal, William Steadman (Principal: 1804-1836) was to identify and train preachers committed to the task of evangelism. Both Horton and Rawdon were run under the auspices of the Northern Baptist Education Society.
After the move to Rawdon, the raising of academic standards became increasingly important. Students were prepared for degrees at London University and in 1904 Rawdon became affiliated to the new Leeds University.
Manchester College was founded in 1866 on strict communion principles. Initially located in Bury, Lancashire, it moved to new premises in Manchester in 1873. Later, it was a founding member of the Theological Faculty of Manchester University.
The First World War led to the closure of the Midland Baptist College (originally the Academy of the New Connexion of General Baptists, created in 1798). Most of the assets of Midland College were given to Rawdon.
After several earlier attempts, the amalgamation of Rawdon and Manchester was finally achieved after a proposal by Rawdon in 1961. New building were erected on the Manchester site and the united College became Northern Baptist College.
In the 1970’s new schemes of training for ministry were inaugurated in partnership with colleges of other denominations in the city. After the creation of the Northern Federation for Training in Ministry, the main college building was renamed Luther King House. It is now owned and managed ecumenically under the auspices of the Partnership of Theological Education, Manchester. Northern Baptist College plays a full role within the Partnership.
In recent years a larger part of the College’s educational work has been based in local churches rather than at Luther King House, with regional tutors appointed. To reflect this, in 2009 Northern Baptist College changed its name to become the Northern Baptist Learning Community.