Front cover of student newspaper The Gongster 10 May 1978

April 3, 2014, by Sarah Colborne

Throwback to The Gongster

Carnival procession through Nottingham from Gongster 1951

The pink elephant and the Pubs of Nottingham tableaux lead the procession round Theatre Square, Nottingham as crowds ten deep watch the first Carnival procession since 1938.


A collection of student newspapers dating back nearly 120 years is proving to be a rich resource for researchers and staff at The University of Nottingham.

Manuscripts and Special Collections has almost a complete run of the University’s student magazine, The Gongster, from its inception in 1939 to its closure in 1978. It was originally created as a rival to The Gong, also published and produced by students, which started all the way back in 1885 and is variously described as the Magazine of University College, the Nottingham University College Chronicle, and Nottingham University Arts Magazine.

Some of the issues from the Gongster’s forty year run report on the success of the student-run charity Carnival which, as Karnival, is still going strong and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The photograph shows the positive relations between ‘town and gown’ with crowds gathering to enjoy some post-war entertainment. It is fascinating to trace the changing style of student reporting across the decades. Articles can be irreverent, angry, or heavily political, and may have been written by former students who have since gone on to great things. What is certain, is that there is plenty to discover.

The Gongster was superseded by Bias, which ran from 1978-1984, when  Impact, took over. We have copies of Bias and Impact right up to the present day.

All incarnations of the student newspaper are held in our East Midlands Special Collection which can be found via UNLOC, and are regularly used by students, staff, and external researchers. A selection of Impact covers have recently been digitised to assist with the 100 Heroes exhibition which opens in the Portland Building on Saturday 5th April, celebrating 100 years of staff, students and societies at the University, and a project is under way to make digitised issues of The Gongster available online, though there is still a lot of work to be done before this can be made possible. In the meantime, all are welcome to come and browse the physical volumes in our Reading Rooms at King’s Meadow Campus. Who knows what stories you might discover?

We will be tweeting weekly excerpts from the student newspapers for #ThrowbackThursday from our Twitter account:

Front cover of The Gongster 2 Nov 1967

This front cover from 1967 reports a complaint by students who felt it was “a bit much” that the VC booked up all the guest rooms in the male halls for his VIPs leaving no affordable accommodation for guests of students wanting to attend the Carnival

Front cover of student newspaper The Gongster 10 May 1978

This 1978 special issue is very much a product of its time, with articles on the Windscale anti-nuclear demonstration, magic mushrooms and an interview with singer Roy Harper.


Cover of Student newspaper Impact Dec 1993

This 1993 issue of Impact predicts that John Patten’s Education Bill will mean the end of Impact and Karni. Thankfully both survived.

Posted in OutreachUniversity archives