The Diploma in Community Nursing at the University of Manchester began in 1959, after a long period of planning and negotiation. It was the earliest pre-registration nursing education programme in a British university. The paper reports on a historical study which examined its foundation and development. The history of the 'Manchester Scheme', as it came to be known, is placed into the context of wider reforms and modifications in British nursing education. The methods used for the study were a broad-based literature review, examination of material from the 1950s to the present day, five oral history interviews with some of those who were influential in developing the diploma, and the interpretation of relevant documentary source materials. The Diploma in Community Nursing at the University of Manchester was important and innovative in its time, combining as it did nurse and health visitor training with a university-based education. The paper traces the struggle to establish the course, which was largely due to the efforts of one charismatic individual, Fraser Brockington, Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine. It then goes on to examine the reforms and modifications the programme underwent from 1959 to 1969, as it was developed into the prototype for the 'Bachelor of Nursing Degree'.