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Plymouth Marjon University celebrates 180th Anniversary

Released: 17.02.20

Thursday 13th February 2020 marks the beginning of a series of celebrations to be held by the University.

In February 1840, the first students; some of which were orphans from a local workhouse; took their seats in St John’s College, Battersea. The following year, St Mark’s College, Chelsea, was formed. For 80 years the two colleges enjoyed a lively academic and sporting rivalry, before joining forces in 1923, when the word ‘Marjohn’ was first used; and has continued to be used; to describe graduates.

All those years ago, the Principals of each founding college each began developing the colleges that they thought were needed to train children to become teachers who would go on to provide vital education for all, regardless of background or means. Coleridge and Kay Shuttleworth have since been credited for developing the first national school system, driven by their strong principles of social justice and first-hand experiences of poverty and inequality.

One room in the original building of St Mark’s College contained copies of the Elgin Marbles, which in recent years have proven to be of finer detail than the originals in the British Museum. Purchased by the British Crown from Lord Elgin in 1816, the Parthenon Sculptures were presented by parliament to the British Museum, where they have remained ever since.

Today, in celebration of the University’s 180th year, a copy of a section of the Elgin Marbles was revealed in the Student Hub, on the Plymouth Marjon campus.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Rob Warner, spoke about the significance of the anniversary:

“Our first students joined the Battersea College in February 1840. This was the first teacher training college in England, and included orphans from the workhouses whose talent was actually spotted by staff. The vision for this new teacher training college was to create a universal education which trained all those with potential, irrespective of background. Equally, its purpose was to teach an entire population and bring social uplift and economic opportunity to all.

“Derwent Coleridge was criticised for being too radical, and questioned for trying to provide an excellent education for those outside of the elite, and he therefore wrote a mock apology on behalf of the college for its ‘inconvenient excellence’.

“We continue to strive for excellence, for ourselves and above all, for our students. Today, we’re celebrating 180 years of public service and our vision is centred on student success; an inclusive opportunity to create a better future for all.”  

Find out more about the history of Marjon here


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