The Royal School of Mines formed by highly regarded geologist Sir Henry De La Beche. Opened on Saturday 12th May by Prince Albert. The college soon became renowned for its prowess in educating good geology, mining and metallurgy students and later petroleum geologists.



The first varsity rugby match between the RSM and the Camborne School of Mines was played, giving the RSM a reputation as an institution with a strong social and welfare ethic. The match continues to be played today and is the 2nd oldest varsity match in the country.



The Royal School of Mines merged with the Royal College of Science and City & Guilds College to form the Imperial College of Science and Technology.



The war years saw the movement of non-conscripted RSM students and staff to the Camborne School of Mines as part of the evacuation, further helping links between the two colleges.



Some RSM students ‘acquired’ a 3’ imitation beer bottle off a Bass-Charrington Lorry, and the first ‘Bottle Match’ was played, which over the rest of the century would develop into ‘the’ social event of the year for both colleges.



Mirroring the RSM’s development outside of academics, throughout the 20th Century the RSM & Imperial College developed reputations as one of the best institutions in Britain and indeed the world to study science and technology including the RSM’s subjects of extraction geology, petroleum science and materials science & engineering. The first editions of the Pit, the RSM’s monthly newsletter were printed in 1972.



The Royal School of Mines published an annual journal, promoting research within the department in the fields of Mining and Geology.



The mid 1990′s saw the end of the second golden age of the RSM. This was triggered, in part, by the incorporation of St. Mary’s Medical College to form the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. The college was now leading in all fields of science and technology. Consequently, the RSM as an academic institution began to break up – the formation of the T.H. Huxley (another of the college’s forefathers) School of Life and Earth Sciences separated the Geology and Materials Departments.



The arrival of the new Millennium and a new rector saw major changes across Imperial College, including the disbanding of the old founding colleges. Consequently, the Royal School of Mines no longer academically represented its students and instead the Department of Earth Science & Engineering and the Department of Materials became the official names. Simultaneously, the Union was following suit and the position of the RSM remained worryingly unclear. As if these disastrous changes weren’t enough of a blow, it was this year that Mining ceased to be taught as a stand-alone MSc course and all mining teaching was integrated into the undergraduate Geology degrees.


As the RSM celebrated its 150 year anniversary, its future looked more bleak than ever. Since all academic association with the name RSM had been lost, the Royal School of Mines Union – the student Union for the school – lost its title and for months it was unclear what would happen. A ray of hope was seen in the launch of the very first RSM website – a basic one page site.



After two years of fighting, the RSM emerged out of this period following much hard work by the Executive of the time and persuaded the IC Union that the RSM continue as a CSC – a Clubs and Societies Committee. It now ran and oversaw its own sports clubs, at the time including Rugby, Football, Hockey, Motor Club and the long-standing departmental societies – the DLB and MatSoc. By virtue all Earth Science and Materials students are automatically members of their respective departmental society and therefore members of the RSM – helping keep our membership and traditions strong. Furthermore, anyone who is a member of Imperial College Union can join any RSM club or society further bolstering our strength.



For the first time, the RSM launches a regularly updated website which integrated previous information with ‘live’ features including news, forums and photo galleries. More sports clubs are incorporated under the RSM.



The Real Ale society is founded though a prominent campaign to save Southside Bar, which was successful with the introduction of ‘Harrington’s’ as a replacement, further highlighted the importance of the RSM as an important player within Imperial College Union.



The RSM enters the third golden age. After more than five years of hardship, President Leah Glass turns the RSM CSC around, securing financial sponsorship and reintroducing many of the lost traditions. The name RSM Union is reintroduced as a pseudo-name for external purposes.



It was 100 years since the founding of Imperial College, and the RSM hosted an exciting list of Centenary Celebrations in accordance with events across college.



It was passed by Imperial College Union Council that the RSMU is to be considered a constituent union of Imperial College once again after 12 years of hardship!



Today in the RSM's 167th year, thanks to a tight student community and strong support from the departments of ESE and Materials, the RSMU is once more a radiant student union, fitting to represent best taught and happiest earth and materials students in the country.







Read some amusing stories from old RSM alumni:


↑   First RSMU Website  (2001)

↑   Ex-Pres Seb Turner's Website  (2006)

↑   Original iteration of this present site (2013)

© Copyright Royal School of Mines Union 2019