In the 1930 the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology was formed. This had a continuous development until 1969 when it became the Leicester Polytechnic Students’ Union. Making the Union 46 years old today! In 1975 a purpose built Student Union building was opened in Newarke Close. It was designed by the architects and buildings division of the department of Education and Science in a project to assist with the design of smaller buildings in other colleges.  The Scraptoft Students Union building was opened in February of the same year. The building was acclaimed aesthetically and won major awards for its architects. On the 1st of September 1976 the City of Leicester College of Education at Scraptoft amalgamated with the Polytechnic and the building became part of the Leicester Polytechnic Students’ Union.  

The Student Association, started through a grant from Sir Charles Keene, had less than 500 Students. Full time, Part-Time students, and honorary members mean that the Union membership is now over 8,500. It has a financial turnover of £875,000and 50 full time staff.


A Short Biography

Sir Charles Keene:

Charles Robert Keene was born on the 21st September 1891, one of twelve children born to Charles and Emma Keene. The family moved to Leicester in 1899 where Charles senior set up businesses in box manufacturing, die stamping and the Mutual Clothing and Supply Company, a credit finance company.

Charles junior left school at fourteen and worked for his father. From 1910 he became a preacher at the Methodist church attended by the family, in line with his ambition to train as a Methodist minister. However, in 1914 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served on hospital ships in the Mediterranean throughout the First World War. On his return he became the managing director of the Mutual Clothing and Supply Company and of Kingstone Limited.

He was elected to the Leicester City Council as Labour member for Charnwood Ward in 1926, becoming Alderman in 1945 and serving as Mayor in 1953. As a councillor his main interests were education, culture and town planning. He was Chairman of the Education Committee from 1938 to 1946 and again from 1953 to 1961; a Governor of the Gateway School from 1928 and served as Senior Pro Vice Chancellor of Leicester University.

Charles Keene was Chairman of the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology from 1927 to 1969, when he became the first Chair of Leicester Polytechnic. This long service was recognised in 1961 when Charles Keene College was named in his honour. He retired as Chair of the Polytechnic in 1971 after 44 years of service. An annual event, the Sir Charles Keene Lecture, was founded at the Polytechnic in 1974.

Keene was made CBE in 1950 and knighted in the birthday honours list of June 1969. He was married to Ruth Stocks in 1921 and had three sons, Robert, David and Michael. Ruth died in 1949 and he opened the Ruth Keene Memorial Gardens in her memory. He married Hetty Swann in 1952. Charles Keene died of a stroke on 26th July 1977, aged 85