The Indian Students’ Union and Hostel was founded in 1920 by the Indian National Council of YMCA’s to provide living and social facilities for Indian students in London. Laurence Binyon gave the inaugural address at the opening ceremony. Originally housed in a building known as ‘Shakespeare Hut’ on the corner of Keppel Street and Gower Street, it moved to premises to 106-112 Gower Street in 1923, which were bombed during the Battle of Britain. One student was killed. The new home in 1923 was opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The premises were moved around after that until they became permanently settled, and continue to exist, at 41 Fitzroy Square in 1950, opened by V. K. Krishna Menon.
Although the hostel element was important, especially for students as they arrived and before they could find permanent lodgings, the Union provided recreational space and food for other Indian visitors. By 1925, approximately 2000 members had been through the Union. The Union organized entertainment such as trips and various sporting activities. They also hosted a number of visitors who gave talks and lectures. These included British speakers and Indian speakers such as Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore. The Union produced a journal, The Indus, from May 1921 and provided a space for students to write about the hostel and their experiences in Britain. With its central location and openness, the hostel was an important and influential landmark for Indian students.
Edwin Bevan, Emily Kinnaird, K. T. Paul.
Visitors included: Laurence Binyon, Atul Chatterjee, M. K. Gandhi, V. K. Krishna Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru, R. P. Paranjpye, Rabindranath Tagore.
With Indian Students in London, Being the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Indian Students’ Union and Hostel (Indian National Council of YMCAs) (London: Garden City Press, 1935)
Kinnaird, Emily, My Adopted Country 1889-1944 (Lucknow: E. Kinnaird, 1944)
Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2010)
Indian Students’ Union and Hostel, 5th Annual Report, 1924, ‘Beveridge 2/B/24/8’, London School of Economics Archives, London
Report of the Committee of Indian Students 1921-2 (London: India Office, 1922)
Indian Students’ Union and Hostel, 1946-9, L/I/1/142, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras
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