The Plymouth Judo Club is the oldest established club in the West of England, and one of the oldest in the country dating back to the very early nineteen fifties when the very word judo seemed mystical and frightening. A group of individuals met at an evening class the old Plymouth Public School for boys with an instructor from the marines. When these evening classes finished some of the players decided to form a club, so they moved to the Devonport Guildhall and shared a hall with the local youth club. This only lasted a short time before a move to the Good Shepherd hall opposite an old police station in the Octagon area of Plymouth, which they shared with the youth club from Devonport who came with them. This was a reasonable hall as it had a wooden floor whereas the next move to the basement of Little St. Peters Church Hall in Cecil St. had a concrete floor & with coir mats (which were the old square coconut mats) to practice on was somewhat daunting and hard. A 3rd Dan international called Doug Young came from London to do a grading on one occasion at these premises in 1953.
It was after this that one of the members, a Len Collins found the Virginia House premises and went to see the house warden a Mr. Steve Howson who agreed to let the club have half of the middle floor in one of the blocks. He was impressed with the way the judo club was operating that he allowed them to take over the whole floor with a room for changing and another for an office. The mats were now a thin 1” rubber under a canvas. For several years this was OK but then it was decided to put a wooden frame around the edge of the mat area, fill it with sawdust and stretch a canvas over it. This would be the somewhat hard mat to land on for several more years until the club could afford the new type of rubberised mats when the sawdust was removed.
The move to Virginia House enabled the club to become well established & was to be their home for over thirty years. During this time, the club went from strength to strength with both a senior & junior section that was the envy of the whole of the South West winning countless county, area & national honours.
With the coming of the ferry to Roscoff from Plymouth a good relationship with clubs in Brittany was established in the seventies and a club and family exchange went on for many years.