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Our mascot Colossus

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The history of Colossus

The Royal Holloway College mascot, Colossus, was a full size stuffed grizzly bear. He was purchased by a student in February 1956 in an antique shop in West Croydon and was transported back to the College, with some difficulty, by the beginning of March that year.

In the early 1950s, mascots had become popular at University of London Colleges and Royal Holloway College didn’t want to be left out. Colossus was a big hit with the students and many alumni have fond memories of him. Despite his size he seems to have been irresistible to other Colleges and was subject to several kidnappings. 

One of the first times he was taken was by Imperial College, who found him to be infested with insects. The kidnappers fitted him into their soil fumigation chamber to de-louse him and he consequently returned to the College in a better state than when he had left.

He also took frequent trips around the College and it wasn’t unusual for students to get back to their rooms in Founder’s Building, after a long day studying, to be confronted with Colossus’ grizzly face. 

It’s not clear what exactly is happening in the photograph from 1961 above, but Colossus is dressed in an academic robe - so he could be on his way to a lecture, an exam, or (probably more likely) a special event at the College. He was even permitted to meet the Queen Mother on her visit to the College in 1970 and had new teeth fitted for the occasion.

A tragic end

RHNBC Egham Sun vol IX issue 6 2 December 1993 Colossus burnt

The story of Colossus has a sad ending. An article in the Egham SUN (an old student newspaper) from December 1993 reveals that Colossus was kidnapped by Imperial College in 1991 as part of a RAG raid. They had demanded a ransom for his safe return which the Students' Union refused to pay. Colossus remained at Imperial: his remains were discovered two years later, having been burned by an animal rights protester, and all that was left of him was his skull and the metal frame that had held him up.

Colossus today

Although Colossus met a fiery end, he lives on in name as the current sports mascot

(Image from RHBNC Egham Sun Volume x Issue 62 December 1993)

 
 
 

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