The History of the Marjon Student Union

MSU and the archive.


First established at Marjon on the Kings Road Chelsea site 29th June 1930 as “The Education Society” - a series of “Sunday Night Concerts” - play readings, song evenings, debates – set up by a group of students who were bored with the lack of entertainment and wanted their time at college to be social as well as academic.

According to the diary record of student Eric Ford, it wasn’t at all well received by the Principal at the time, but it survived, persisted and it’s lasted through World War, college evacuations and relocations to be the “lasting legacy of the students of 1929”. Later added a drama society, an orchestra and a choir, as well as the already-established sports groups.

The leader was Stanley Reed, who would later become the Director of the British Film Institute (BFI). (seen far R)


The college magazine 1932 records the name change to “The Students Union”, a list of current activities which was an amalgamation of the indoor and outdoor groups – and a tactful thank you to staff for their support…

Cover 1932 college magazine

Extract 1932 college magazine

By 1934 the original founders were leaving and the new students not yet established, so the SU report for that year was a bit pessimistic

The college also voted to re-establish a branch of the League of Nations, and also staged a play called “Journeys End”, a protest play which deals with the rise of “Hitlerism” – not just a sign of the times all too soon to come, but also a stark  reminder that at that time the college were re-admitting students still recovering from WW1, and desperate to try and stop another conflict on the same scale.

By 1935 the Union was well established and thriving again–


 In 1938 the students had been evacuated  - some to share the premises of Borough Road College, others to Cheltenham, with the co-operation of St Pauls . Marjon was taken over by the ARP and Admiralty, and served as a hospital site during WW2. Many students unable to join up served as ARP wardens and held gas mask training sessions for local residents, or joined the ARP, AFS, Ambulance, Police or Observer Corps. Marjon also had a University Air Squadron.

Joint college magazine – Marjon and Borough Road

A cartoon in the magazine sums it up – the previous college rivalry forgotten and all ‘una mente’ – “of one mind”.


With the disruption and ‘call up’ (students on military service), Union activities were suspended for the Duration.

1946 – message from the president of the SU.  By summer, sports and indoor societies re-established, programme of rebuilding, optimism and positive mood.

College magazines – Spring/Summer 1946


1947 -  Drama Society gaining reputation, taking part in inter-college drama festival.

1948 - Debate on too many societies  – 27 in all including liberal, literary, world affairs, cross country basket ball, chess, film, mountaineering. Do students join too many?

1950’s  - 19 clubs including Fencing, Film Society  debated use of film for education, reflecting trends in teaching film appreciation

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College fencing club 1950’s

Ist Open day listed

1954 – student welfare became a prominent topic, rather than just listings of society notes and sports results - including grants, meals, laundry, fundraising.

1958- college magazine and  SU affiliated via SU constitution, magazine becomes ‘official’ voice of the SU, SU aims to popularise the magazine to make it more accessible to whole of student body.

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Registered Office: Marjon Student Union, Plymouth Marjon University, Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BH
Registered Charity Number: 1150327