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Clubs and societies

Hockey Team, Department of Household & Social Science, c1920 (Ref: Q/PH1/12)Hockey Team, Department of Household & Social Science, c1920 (Ref: Q/PH1/12)Fives team at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1930-31 (Ref: Q/PH1/23)Fives team at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1930-31 (Ref: Q/PH1/23)Social activities were a core element of student life at Queen Elizabeth College. Sporting clubs in existence during the College’s formative years included hockey – winners of the Intercollegiate Cup in 1926 – lacrosse, netball, tennis, and swimming whilst, for the less athletic, membership was available in the Dramatic Society, which gave an annual play and held weekly readings.

Particularly popular was the Debating and Literary Society; debates during 1925 reflected the contemporary issues facing young women of the period, with subjects including ‘That a married woman’s sphere is exclusively in the home’ and ‘That the public taste of today is depraved’. Membership of the society was strong; an intercollegiate debate was held with Westfield College in 1926, and from 1936 debates were also held against staff. Also formed during this period was the Student Christian Movement, followed in 1932 by the affiliation of the London Inter-Faculty Christian Union (College branch). Open meetings on various subjects took place throughout the year, while Bible studies and quiet times were also held regularly, some of the latter being taken by outside speakers.

As the College’s student body grew, so too did the range of interests and activities available. The 1920’s saw the establishment of the Musical Society, which held practices during term and developed two branches, the choral branch giving a carol concert at Christmas, and the orchestra branch taking part in performances of the Dramatic Society. In 1948, the Musical Society acquired a radiogram, which enabled gramophone recitals to become a regular feature of the society’s activities. There was also frequent attendance of members, by special invitation, at BBC concerts. Other societies included the Fiction Library Club and the League of Nations Union (College Branch), which held informal meetings and an early debate on the motion ‘That Disarmament is Desirable’.

Junior and Senior Rowing Crews at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1928-29 (Ref: Q/PH1/20)Junior and Senior Rowing Crews at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1928-29 (Ref: Q/PH1/20)Tennis team at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1930-31 (Ref: Q/PH1/22)Tennis team at King's College of Household and Social Science, 1930-31 (Ref: Q/PH1/22)In 1928, new groups affiliated to the Union included the Boating Club, from which a junior boat was entered for the intercollegiate races and won three events, thanks mainly to Bedford College Boating Club who acted as coxes to the beginners. From 1933, members of the Rangers, known later as Cadets, acted as examiners for the girl guides' Home-Maker’s and Domestic Service Badges in the district. In sporting developments, 1928 saw theformation of the Cricket Club which played regular fixtures against the College staff in the summer term and from 1930 the Ping Pong Club (later known as Table Tennis) opened with a large membership.

By the end of the 1930’s, the Fencing, Fives and Skating clubs were all established, as was the Catholic Society and an International Students’ Service, formed initially to raise funds for two German refugee students. In 1945, the Service notably took part in a drive across the country to raise money for the World Student Relief Fund, devoted to helping students in liberated countries restart their academic life.

One of the College’s oldest clubs was the Old Students' Association, formed in 1911. The Association held an annual Reunion Dinner, featuring entertainment from College musical and dramatic societies, and the AGM was usually followed by an evening party. Members also regularly attended the College carol service and Commemoration Dinner. Rebranded as the Queen Elizabeth College Association, in later years members held regular soccer, cricket, rugby and hockey fixtures against College teams and current staff. Reunion events remained popular, with meetings offering the opportunity for tours of the College from present staff. Members were keen to support the College in current ventures and projects, with many offering contributions such as the provision of funds for improvement to student accommodation in Queen Mary Hall.

During the Second World War a number of sporting clubs,including cricket, table tennis and fives, ceased to function due to lack of facilities. Following evacuation other clubs successfully transferred to Cardiff and Leicester and played fixtures against local teams. In 1939, theTennis Club played a match against King’s College, who had been evacuated to nearby Bristol. Many student organisations temporarily merged during evacuation, with Queen Elizabeth students joining the Leicester Ranger Companyand Leicester University College Choral Society, as well as the rambling and drama societies.

During 1942, an International Society was formed in collaboration with Leicester and affiliated to the Students’ Federation for International Co-operation, attracting a number of outside speakers, whilst the Non-Party Political Society and Socialist Society were also active during this period. In1943, a Rag Day held in conjunction with Leicester students raised nearly £1000 for local hospitals.

Courtauld Hall at Queen Elizabeth College, 1953 (Ref: Q/PH3/72)Courtauld Hall at Queen Elizabeth College, 1953 (Ref: Q/PH3/72)In 1948 the formation of an Athletic Union encompassed all existing sporting clubs. There were new ventures such as squash, which came top of its university division in its first year, and athletics, for which no actual club was formed, but a team entered the inter-collegiate championships and won the Imperial College Cup for Women’s Events. From 1950, a Conservative Association was initiated, which invited speakers to address the College and held a dance during Michaelmas term. Members also attended meetings of the University Conservative Association, and the Annual Dinner held at King’sCollege, Strand.

During the 1960’s, as the number of students at Queen Elizabeth continued to grow, the Union provided an increasing range of facilities. Within the Athletic Union several new activities began functioning, such as Judo, which attracted a keen membership, and Darts. From 1971, the total number of student societies stood at around 40, with newly affiliated clubs such assailing, parachute jumping, karate, and mountaineering. The hill walking club, formed in 1974, was one of the youngest in the College but with 50 active members also one of the more active and keenly supported. The College’s Drama Society was also flourishing during this period, with members performing not only at Queen Elizabeth but within other Colleges across London, and most notably at the Edinburgh Festival.

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