History and inspiration

“Had it not been for the leadership of that great man Winston Churchill, the nations of Europe would not have been free in 1945. Let us never forget, generation after generation.” Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller, our Founder

History and inspiration

It is always worth remembering why – with no previous history of making grants of this size outside Denmark – the AP Møller Foundation was so keen to endow this specific project at this particular college.

To quote Mr Møller directly, “Had it not been for the leadership of that great man Winston Churchill, the nations of Europe would not have been free in 1945. Let us never forget, generation after generation.”

As Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, youngest daughter of Mr Møller said on our 25th anniversary, “The Institute has followed the spirit of my father from the start and has proved worthy of his legacy.”

The Møller Institute  is a world-class, dedicated residential leadership development and conference centre at Churchill College, in the University of Cambridge. Our inspiration comes from the connection between two inspirational leaders, Sir Winston Churchill, and Maersk Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, whose vision and benefaction has created a unique ‘Centre for Excellence’.

Pictured above (L-R): Gillian Secrett, CEO, the Møller Institute and Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, youngest daughter of Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller and chair of the A.P. Møller Foundation.

The Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute was built with a donation from the A.P. Møller & Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation, a Danish institution established in 1953 by shipping magnate A.P. Møller. The Foundation makes contributions to good causes, especially those involving national heritage, shipping, industry and science. Mr Møller was keen to support a development in memory of Sir Winston Churchill because of the College’s tradition of excellence in the fields of science and engineering. A donation was made to Churchill College and in 1992 the Møller Institute was established and opened by Her Majesty Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

Our building design

The main building was designed by a Danish Architect, Henning Larsen. In plan view, the building resembles a ship, with the tower acting as the propeller, and the Lecture Theatre as the bridge.  The main building is made of Portland Stone and has environmentally sourced teak floors throughout. The dominating element of the Institute is the octagonal tower – from the terrace on the top there is an incredible panoramic view over the city of Cambridge.

Our box hedge version of the Maersk seven-pointed star logo reminds us of our Danish heritage. The Maersk website tells the story – “Based on a letter from A.P. Møller’s father, Captain Peter Mærsk Møller, the seven-pointed star logo came into existence in 1886 when his wife, Anna Møller, accompanied him on a vessel and became seriously ill. While praying for his wife’s well-being, Captain Mærsk Møller saw one star on that cloudy night and was filled with hope. In a letter he later wrote to Anna, he explained the symbolism of the Maersk star, which by then was on the funnel of his first steamship, the S.S. Laura. The letter read: “The little star on the funnel is a reminder of the evening I prayed for you so dejectedly and anxiously, asking for the sign that I might see in the grey, overcast sky, a reminder the that the Lord hears our prayers.”  The second part of the Maersk logo is the light blue background behind the white star: the Maersk Blue. The exact origin of that colour is unknown. The white star on a light blue background was first used when Captain Peter Mærsk Møller bought his first steamship in 1886; the LAURA. When Captain Peter Mærsk Møller and his son A.P. Møller established the Steamship Company Svendborg (the forerunner for A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S) in 1904, the white star was retained as the funnel emblem for the company’s vessels.”