The Polytechnic’s management encouraged the establishment of a Student Representative Council (SRC) in 1933, to create a sense of unity and expand the social activities of its day students. The SRC was affiliated to the National Union of Students but initially restricted itself largely to social activities.

After 1945 it began to campaign on issues such as improvements to the canteen, lifting the ban on religious or political activity within the Polytechnic, and for a formal Students’ Union. The Sectarian Ban was finally lifted in 1962 and a Union granted in 1965. However, the canteen continued to be an issue throughout the 1980s.

By 1968 the Union had secured offices in Elsley Court, with the first bar on Polytechnic premises, as well as two paid sabbatical posts. During the 1970s the number of full-time students at PCL doubled and the newly formed Polytechnic of Central London Students’ Union (PCLSU) engaged in a strategy of protest and direct action. Against a backdrop of general social unrest, PCLSU campaigned against cuts in student grants, lack of accommodation, the rise in costs for overseas students, and the perennial issues with the canteen. Students also joined the many national demonstrations marching in London.

Alongside politics, music was always a key feature of Poly student life, from club socials and LP listening clubs in the 1930s, through to swing and jazz dances in the 1950s.  The Portland Hall at Little Titchfield Street became an important music venue from the late Sixties, with performances by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd (formed by architecture students at the Poly). This continued through into the 1980s with groups such as New Order and The Stone Roses playing at the New Cavendish Street building.

Return to Menu

Period: 1980s

Andrew Baxter studied Civil Engineering at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the early 1960s. In this excerpt he discusses holding the ship RSS Discovery to ransom as a prank during a RAG week.

Student Rags are thought to date back to Victorian times when students collected clothes for the poor. However, in the 20th century students took to performing pranks in order to raise money for charities in general. Nowadays the term RAG stands for Raise And Give.

For more on Poly RAGs see Barry Nicholson and Martin Frishman.

 

Period: 1960s

Barry Nicholson studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic both as an A Level Student in 1963 and as a Mechanical Engineer in the late 1960s.
 
Before 1965 there was no Students’ Union and no student bar.  Quintin Hogg, founder of the Polytechnic, was a firm believer in temperance and consequently the Scheme of Administration of The Regent Street Polytechnic banned Poly buildings from obtaining alcohol licences.  The scheme also banned dancing.  The latter was lifted by 1929 but the students did not get their own bar until 1967.  Nevertheless, most clubs and societies had socials including dances, concerts, whist drives, and garden parties.
 
Student Rags are thought to date back to Victorian times when students collected clothes for the poor.  However, in the 20th century students took to performing pranks in order to raise money for charities in general. Nowadays the term RAG stands for Raise And Give.
 

In these excerpts he discusses a RAG charity prank where Poly students raced 2 pianos down Oxford Street and discusses the social life at the Poly during the 1960s.

Period: 1980s; 1990s

David Bench studied Environmental Biotechnology at PCL in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

Student occupations and demonstrations were regular occurrences during the 1960s-1990s with students protesting against anything from International issues such as CND or the Vietnam War to student issues such as overseas fees and canteen food.  Most PCL occupations occurred at 309 Regent Street.

Music was also an essential element of student life. The Portland Hall, built in 1929, was the venue for many famous musicians during the 1960s including The Animals, The Who, Howlin’ Wolf, Fleetwood Mac –  whose Masters: London Live ’68 album was recorded in the Portland Hall – Pink Floyd, and Cream who invited Jimi Hendrix on stage to jam with them in 1966 (Hendrix’s first UK performance). From the 1970s the building on New Cavendish Street also became a major music venue for the Poly.

In these excerpts he discusses a student occupation of 309 Regent Street c.1991 and some of the Students’ Union gigs at Bolsover Street and New Cavendish Street.

Period: 1930s; 1940s

Mark Fenton studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the late 1930s/early 1940s. In this excerpt he discusses socials and dances at the Poly.

Before 1965 there was no Students’ Union and perhaps more importantly no student bar. Quintin Hogg, founder of the Polytechnic, was a firm believer in temperance and the Scheme of Administration of The Regent Street Polytechnic banned Poly buildings from obtaining alcohol licences. The scheme also banned dancing. The latter was lifted by 1929 but the students did not get their own bar until 1967. Nevertheless, most clubs and societies had socials including dances, concerts, whist drives, and garden parties.

Period: 1950s

Martin Frishman studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the mid 1950s. In this excerpt he discusses a student RAG prank on the Strand.

Student Rags are thought to date back to Victorian times when students collected clothes for the poor. However, in the 20th century students took to performing pranks in order to raise money for charities in general.  Nowadays the term RAG stands for Raise And Give.

For more on Poly RAGs see Andrew Baxter and Barry Nicholson.

Period: 1950s

Max Neufeld studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the early 1950s.  He was also involved in the Student Representative Council.

During the 1950s there was no Students’ Union and no student bar.  Quintin Hogg, founder of the Polytechnic, was a firm believer in temperance and the Scheme of Administration of The Regent Street Polytechnic banned Poly buildings from obtaining alcohol licences.  The scheme also banned dancing.  The latter was lifted by 1929 but the students did not get their own bar until 1967.

The Student Representative Council was established in 1933 to create a sense of unity between the various clubs and societies at the Poly.  The Scheme of Administration of the Regent Street Polytechnic banned any political groups or activity.  Nevertheless, after World War Two it became more political and campaigned about managerial issues and improvements to the running of the Poly.  It was not until 1962 that this ban on political activity was officially lifted.

In these excerpts he discusses socialising with members of the Poly Secretarial School and other courses and the Student Representative Council and his involvement with it.

Period: 1980s

Michael Moore studied for a postgraduate degree in Transportation Planning and Management at the Polytechnic of Central London in the early 1980s.  In this excerpt he discusses living on a boat on the Thames by Tower Bridge whilst studying at the Poly.

Student halls of residence have been at various sites over the years including West End sites such as Bolsover Street and Marylebone Road. The Marylebone Road Halls were the Poly’s first onsite accommodation and were added in 1970.  Many students also lived in rented flats and some in squats.

Period: 1960s

Owen Spencer Thomas studied Sociology at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the early 1960s.  He was also very involved in the establishment of the Students’ Union in 1965.  In this extract he discusses gigs in the Portland Hall at Little Titchfield Street.

The Portland Hall, built in 1929, was the venue for many famous musicians during the 1960s including The Animals, Howlin’ Wolf, Fleetwood Mac –  whose Masters: London Live ’68 album was recorded in the Portland Hall – Pink Floyd, and Cream who invited Jimi Hendrix on stage to jam with them in 1966 (Hendrix’s first UK performance).

Period: 1980s

Stephen Moulds studied Film and Photographic Arts at the Polytechnic of Central London in the early 1980s.

The Portland Hall, built in 1929, was the venue for many famous musicians during the 1960s including The Animals, Howlin’ Wolf, Fleetwood Mac –  whose Masters: London Live ’68 album was recorded in the Portland Hall – Pink Floyd, and Cream who invited Jimi Hendrix on stage to jam with them in 1966 (Hendrix’s first UK performance). From the 1970s the building on New Cavendish Street also became a major music venue for the Poly.

In this excerpt he discusses the process of booking bands for Students’ Union gigs in the 1980s.


University of Westminster
309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW
General enquiries: +44 (0)20 7911 5000
Course enquiries: +44 (0)20 7915 5511

The University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee.
Registration number: 977818 England