The Cambridge Daily News of 02 November 1931, featuring the visit a few days after the general election of that year. From the Cambridgeshire Collection.
“As briefly announced in Saturday’s issues, Mr Gandhi paid a visit to Cambridge this weekend to hold a conference with a select group of Cambridge thinkers, both men and women, with regards to important issues which were being worked out at the Indian Round Table Conference in London.
“The visit was a private one and very few beyond those immediately concerned knew of his arrival at Cambridge Station from King’s Cross on Saturday afternoon, until it had been announced in our columns.
“Mr Gandhi was accompanied by Miss Slade, daughter of the late Admiral Slade, his son, Devadas Gandhi, and his two secretaries, Mr Desai and Mr Myarelal. On Saturday night Mr Gandhi stayed with Professor Ernest Barker at Cranmer Road and his party stayed with the Maharajah of Dharampur at No.1 Cranmer Road. On Sunday the Master of Pembroke College (Prof. A Hutchinson) and Mrs Hutchinson were his host and hostess.
Early Morning Walk
“Very early on Sunday morning, at about 5.30, Mr Gandhi went for his usual walk, accompanied by Mr Andrews and some members of Westcott House. They went round the colleges by way of the streets and on the way back were able to go through Trinity to the Backs, the porter opening the gates for them.
At Pembroke College
“Mr Gandhi and Miss Slade, accompanied by Mr Gandhi’s son, his two secretaries and Mr C.F. Andrews, arrived at Pembroke College at 9.15am on Sunday.
“During the morning an informal conference was held at Pembroke College Lodge, which were present Prof. and Mrs [Edith] Bethune Baker, Prof. and Mrs Ernest Barker, Dr. and Mrs Murray, the Principal of Ridley Hall and Mrs Gibson, Miss Strachey (Principal of Newnham), Miss Wodehouse (Mistress of Girton), Mrs Trevelyan, Mr and Mrs E/A/ Robinson, Mr Lowes Dickinson, Mr Benians, Mr D.H. Robertson, Mr Elliot, and Mr. Evelyn Wrench, (Editor of “The Spectator”).
“Prof. Ernest Barker acted as chairman of the conference, which was of a private nature, dealing with subjects affecting the Round Table Conference and lasted from 9.45am to 12.30pm. Nearly all present took part in the discussion, which was of a helpful character. Questions relating to the women of India were fully discussed, as well as others relating to the communal question, finance, and the Indian army. Mr Gandhi gave long answers in reply.
Visits to colleges
“After the discussion Mr Gandhi visited Westcott House and Ridley Hall, whose members had kindly helped in entertaining his party. He spoke a few words of thankfulness for his Cambridge visit at both these places. He also visited King’s College Chapel in order to see the beauty of its architecture and stained glass windows, which he very greatly admired. He was very pleased to find that electric light had not been admitted into this glorious ancient building.
“At 8.15pm he attended a meeting at Carpenter Hall [on the site of the Cambridge Unitarian Church, Emmanuel Road], which was crowded to the doors with both English and Indian students. Instead of making a formal speech he answered questions, which were put to him in great number by the audience till nearly 9.15pm. Mr Chowdhury presided as President of the Indian Majhlis, and Mr Rajah was the secretary on this occasion.
“Asked whether there would be a resumption of civil disobedience in India if the Round Table Conference broke down, Mr Gandhi said that this seemed to him to be not unlikely, but that it would not immediately follow a breakdown of the Conference, as every effort would be made to avoid it. Thousands of people who were pledged to it would not rest until India had liberty.
“Mr Gandhi suggested that there should be a judicial tribunal appointed to settle the minorities question. An English student who was going out into the Indian army asked what he could do to serve India. Mr Gandhi replied that he must make friends with the people of the country and refuse to adopt patronising ways. He must be absolutely simple and humble.
“Mr Gandhi retired to rest soon after 10pm. He took his morning walk soon after five this morning, going on Coe Fen and along the river bank. He left Cambridge for London by the 9.50am Train.
Cambridge beauty admired
“During his stay Mr Gandhi expressed his appreciation of the beauty of Cambridge. He was especially impressed with the beauty of the Backs and of King’s College Chapel, which he saw under ideal conditions of sunshine.
“He said he was immensely pleased and grateful for all the kindness and hospitality which had been shown to him, both by Prof. Ernest Barker and his wife and by the Master of Pembroke and Mrs Hutchinson. Nothing could possibly have been kinder than his reception, and he would keep a lifelong memory of the beautiful hospitality which he had received in Cambridge.
Find out more in the newspaper collection at the Cambridgeshire Collection on the 3rd floor of Cambridge Central Library in Grand Arcade – which also had this photograph from the Cambridge Chronicle.