An end to gowns and flour: how 1967 changed Hull

The academic session of 1967/68 was a year of major social change. In 1967, well-publicized student demonstrations during San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’ signalled a shift in social mores which reverberated across the world. France underwent a period of volatile social change and almost came to a standstill during the May 1968 student riots. Stephen Williams (BA Hons Geography and History) came up to Hull in 1966 and in this piece he reflects on the changes and the events that occurred during this tumultuous time, including Hull’s own student demonstrations and the change in social mood they introduced.

2016 will be the 50th anniversary of going up to Hull University, although I have to admit it does not feel anything like that time span. In many ways my memories are still very vivid of a wonderful three years. Yet on further reflection one is left with the feeling of an entirely different student life from that, for example, more recently experienced by my son. One also realises that some of the most significant seeds of this change were sown during the late 1960’s. Let me try and illustrate what I imagine are some of the main differences, by reflecting on how things were at that time.

To put things in context, in the mid 1960’s about 50,000 students were awarded University places annually, as compared to over ten times that number, currently. These figures clearly had a significant impact on the realities of student life in the 1960’s especially as the ratio of academic staff to students was far more generous. This enabled weekly tutorials and one to one discussions with tutors, as well as the normal lectures, for which one had to wear an academic gown. This rather quaint practice was stopped during my second year but I still possess the said black gown for posterity’s sake. In comparison my son’s experience was of far fewer contact hours with his lecturers. In the 1960’s at Hull one regularly ‘sat at the feet’ and appreciated the intellect of such revered legends as Prof John Kenyon in History and Prof Jay Appleton in Geography. The former exhaled pipe tobacco through his nostrils whilst conducting tutorials (it was an era when smoking was not frowned upon), and woe betide you if you didn’t have a thick skin. The latter, who was also my personal tutor was a wonderfully wise and kind man, whom I had the pleasure of subsequently meeting on several occasions before his death earlier this year, at the age of 95.

Stephen Williams and Michael Ormerod
Stephen Williams and Michael Ormerod at The Lawns under construction

Student accommodation was also a far simpler issue given the lower numbers. Most first-year students were offered places at one of the four traditional halls of residence, located in Cottingham. These were Needler and Ferens for the males and Thwaite and Cleminson for the females. There was supposed to be strict curfew hours when visitors were not allowed to venture into these single sex establishments and rumours that the female warden at Cleminson used Alsatian dogs in the grounds at night to discourage male intruders were not put to the test by many. The Lawns site was just being constructed and the non-traditional halls such as Morgan, Lambert and Grant only became available in the late 1960’s and then on a strictly single sex basis.

In traditional Halls there were ‘bedders’ who made ones bed and cleaned ones room on a daily basis. In addition meals were provided: breakfast and evening meal during the week and three meals at weekend. The evening meal was a formal affair, requiring a jacket and tie and the whole assembly stood up when the Warden and his entourage entered. The first course was always soup served at each table from a huge silver cauldron; then there was a main course served with ample tureens of vegetables, a dessert and finally cheese. The proceedings were started with a rushed grace of two words – ‘Benedictus, Benedicat’ which was the cue for the waitresses to fly out of the kitchen ‘en masse’ like a football team running onto the pitch, under the watchful eye of the Domestic Bursar.

Stephen Williams (centre) and the Junior Common Room committee
Stephen Williams (centre) President of the Junior Common Room

I spent all my three years in Needler Hall and was elected President of the JCR (Junior Common Room) for the third year which gave me the ‘privilege’ of attending the SCR (Senior Common Room) for a glass of sherry prior to each evening meal. To be fair the academic staff residing at Needler were an excellent group and included Bob Chester,(The Warden) and also Don Kendrick, Chris Walker and Fred Burton, amongst others. The Hall had a wonderfully varied social life with its own music room (donated by the Needler family who owned the local sweet factory), a library, a large games room for table tennis and table football, two outdoor tennis courts and the JCR itself with a TV and plenty of reading material. The Hall also had its own football team which during this era reached the final of a local Cup competition against a team from the Fish Docks. We were unbeaten all year but made the fatal mistake of meeting up for a tactical talk the night before the match, in the rooms of one of the tutors, the aforementioned Fred Burton, who played for the team. He had had a recent delivery of his annual wine order and the next day several of the team, including our star player were ‘hors de combat’ and we lost 1-0 and poor Fred also had to re-order.

Other events at Needler included an annual film festival and twice yearly dances with live music. We were particularly fortunate in this respect, as on our JCR committee we had a certain Ed Bicknell, as Social Secretary. Ed, who went onto mange Dire Straits, had an incredible knowledge of pop music and was able to identify little known artistes who were on the ‘up’ and also secure their services for a relative pittance. One such was the Jethro Tull group and another, Ralph McTell. He used to do the same for the University Union and it was the era when the best known groups played at university campuses on a Saturday night and such as The Who, Manfred Mann, The Moody Blues and many more come to mind.

RAG float in Hull city centre
RAG float in Hull city centre

One other notable event for each traditional Hall was the annual Rag Day procession. For weeks prior to this, students would sell the Rag Mags, (a collection of tame, smutty jokes) to the general public and the Hall who sold the most, was rewarded with a barrel or two of beer. It was a major strategic exercise to ensure victory was achieved at the expense, particularly of arch rivals, Ferens Hall. In addition each Hall constructed a rag float, many of which were of quite complex design and these were paraded from the University right through the middle of Hull City Centre and back. I still have a cine-film of the proceedings and very ancient it looks.

In those days ‘Town and Gown’ relationships were strong and friendly, although events in the late 1960’s were to change this relationship forever. In the early to mid -1960’s students at Hull were regarded as a little wild and eccentric but relatively harmless and probably good for the country. As such great tolerance was shown by the public and the authorities and for example the policeman at the Haworth Arms’ corner, who directed the traffic on Rag Procession Day, took his flour bombing with good humour. Then there was the Student Demonstrations of 1967 which changed everything.

At the time, the demonstration did not seem at all significant. A few hundred students occupied the Administration building and the vast majority who were not involved could not understand what the demonstration was all about. In truth it seemed that most of the demonstrators were not sure either and it appeared they were demonstrating because they wanted to demonstrate about something, in line with a trend that had started a few years before in American universities. Supposedly the reason was to gain representation on University bodies but in all truth very few students were really concerned with this issue. However the reaction from the University, from the Press and from the general public was immense and the image of the student, nose-dived literally overnight. Added to this were exaggerated stories about drug taking and so any student flour bombing the policeman at Haworth Arms corner the next year would have been arrested on the spot, such was the transition. This was a great pity for there was something very special about Hull and how the then University Librarian, Philip Larkin so wonderfully and aptly described it as:

“I never thought about Hull until I was here. Having got here, it suits me in many ways. It is a little on the edge of things, I think even its natives would say that. I rather like being on the edge of things.”

The two main routes into Hull were the A63 and the train line into the terminus of Paragon Station, as the Humber Bridge was still a thing of the future. When you arrived you were at the end of the line, surrounded by countryside and part of a unique atmosphere. Then it was still a major port and had a huge fishing industry. Early on a Saturday morning at the fish docks one could see rows of women gutting fish and in the afternoon the same women standing on the terraces of the adjacent Hull RL ground, cursing the referee, far more viciously than their male counterparts. At this time that there were two or three major trawler disasters and the whole City including the University were in absolute mourning. It was as though grief had engulfed and numbed the total population, as deep sea fishing and Hull were then synonymous.

As to the University itself in those days, it comprised a set of buildings to the left and right of the main walkway from the Cottingham Road. The Administration Building to the left and Arts buildings to the right and then the Brynmor Jones library on the left being extended with its equivalent of a tower block and the science block to the right. At the end of the walkway was the student building with its ‘Buttery’ bar and a couple of eating places and the hall that served as the entertainment hub on a Saturday. There was no grand Student Union and everything was a little bit disorganised but somehow none the worse for that. The building housed the various societies and organisations and predominant amongst those was HUSSO, which was a major organisation in providing positive support within the community. It is good to see that this still exists.

Stephen Williams' press pass for Torchlight
Stephen Williams’ press pass for Torchlight

There was also the University Newspaper then called ‘Torchlight’ and the editor was one Chris Mullin, who went onto be an MP for many years. I worked for him in the capacity of Sports Editor and still have my ‘press pass’ which allowed me free access to Hull FC and the two Rugby League grounds. Sadly this is no longer serviceable.

Yes, the memories flood back and I am left with the same feeling that inevitably time has significantly changed the university experience of fifty years ago from what it is today. But that should not come as any great surprise, as every aspect of society has changed radically in that time in so many ways. Why then is it so difficult to appreciate that it really is all of fifty years ago that I was there? Perhaps the answer is that ‘time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana’.

© Steve Williams, BA Geography and History 1966 – 1969.

46 thoughts on “An end to gowns and flour: how 1967 changed Hull

  1. Thanks for writing this Steve as it brought back many memories for me. I was also there from 1966 to 1969 (I was BSc Geology 1966-69). I took part in the sit-in and blamed my presence there having been noted by the warden of Loten Hall – the on-campus hall of residence – for refusing me accommodation for the following year. Happily I got into one of the Student Houses on Cranbrook Avenue for the last two years – so much freedom! I remember Philip Larkin well though to me he was just the grumpy librarian – I had no idea about his writings.

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    1. Hi David,
      Glad it brought back memories. I would be intrigued to get your ‘take’ on the student demonstration of 1967. Was it about just having a demo and doing something a bit different or were there some genuine grievances?
      You geologists with your beards and little hammers, were always a bit wilder than us more staid geographers…..or is my dreadful generalisation, a bit unfair?

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      1. It was partly the mood of the times, the questioning of the establishment, the stuffiness of the old regime, but also there was a bit of just going along with the crowd and I guess a bit of curiosity. There’s a lovely quotation from Larkin that when he heard someone was taking the names of all the students in the demo he said it would be useful to “Have the names of all the pricks at the University”!

        I failed Geography which I took as one of the two ancillary subjects we were required to do. I thought it would be easy as it was just “a branch of geology” but the lecturer we had (can’t remember his name) was only interested in “urban geography” and had us carrying out surveys of local shops when I was expecting geomorphology.

        After completing chemistry as my other ancillary I then did psychology and there are some stories about that . . .

        . . . and yes we all had hammers and some of us had beards – except of course the one lady in our year.

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      2. Steve,
        Fascinated to read your account of university life in the late sixties. I share many of these memories, I was there with you! Do you remember me, Mick Lewin graduated 1969 with a degree in Geography and History.When the results were published,I remember you shook my hand and commented that we had both gained a gentleman’s degree! I also remember you being given permission to leave a field trip in Shrewsbury to attend a Man.City game! Many more memories from those times.
        Mick. Nicholson Hall and Cranbrook Avenue.

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      3. Mick
        Of course I remember you from our very select Joint Geography and History Group. I think there were only about eight of us including Anne Burr (nee Newling) with whom I still exchange Christmas cards and Trevor Cooke. I never understood why as a joint course we only had a total of eight lectures a week but certainly non of us complained and my golf certainly improved, especially as club membership at Hull GC was free to members of the University Golf Club! Can’t imagine that now.

        I well remember the field trip to Shrewsbury with the wonderful Prof Jay Appleton. I mentioned to him that my beloved Man City were playing Everton in the semi final of the FA Cup, just up the road at Villa Park and that I had a ticket. He immediately replied that I must go and I duly did and they won. I returned in the evening and if you recall, we all went to watch another match being played at Gay Meadow, then the home of Shrewsbury Town and I remember Jay giving me a £20 note and telling me to buy everyone a drink after the match. He was a brilliant guy as you know and funnily enough it was his comment about the gentleman’s degree, as he informed me before the finals that I was on for a 2/2…..a gentleman’s degree…. that if I had bothered to do some work it would have been better but that I had had a wonderfully enjoyable three years and he reckoned that was better than a 2/1. I think you also put enjoyment before graft with the same end result! Mind you in those days less than 20% got a 2/1 and less than 5% a first. The only people that seemed to be bothered about a 2/1 were those wanting to do a PhD, as jobs were plentiful.

        Incidentally I met Jay a few times after graduation and he was still the same total gentleman. Once was a lunch that John Franks at the Careers Office organised for me with all the old History and Geography lecturers in attendance and coincidentally the BBC were there doing a documentary which I still have….somewhere! It looks so dated but mind you it was 50 years ago…….makes you think!

        The other wonderful characters I recall were Prof John Kenyon and Prof Bertie Bassett in South East Asian History, who was also such a kind man. Do you remember we invited them all to a drinks party in the Needler Hall music room….something that nobody had done before ……and everyone, including the academics, drank far too much and we all had a great evening and got on famously as a group. Happy days. Shrewsbury Field Trip Trevor Coooke, Mike Lewin and Steve Williams on the Shrewsbury field trip
        Joint History-Geography 1966-69
        Steve Williams, Ann Newling, Mike Lewin, Perry McIntyre, Trevor and Sue Cooke 1966-69

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    2. Hi David
      Thanks for that which helps clarify the reasons behind the Hull demo. Your points about mood of the time and of questioning the establishment ring true. In retrospect, although I did not have the perception then, certain groupings in society were challenging the norms and this led to a kind of social volatility on a global basis. Most students didn’t have the responsibilities of marriage, kids, mortgages and jobs and thus could be far more unfettered in their reaction. Freedom and liberation were on the agenda and people expressed that in different ways, one of which was by demonstrating. Mine was more by just having a great time, as it was an era of lack of restraint, especially if you were a student. If truth be known I don’t think I have ever got over this reaction!
      So, there was even one female geology student at the time……who either didn’t have a beard or a little hammer. I will just have to use my imagination as it was the 60’s.
      Steve.

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  2. I was at Hull during the Second World War. The army had taken over the women’s hall (Thwaite), so Needler accommodated both men and women. We had seperate common rooms plus a joint one.

    The evening meal described by Steve sounds familiar, especially the grace of ‘Benidictus Benedicat’. (Bless us and bless the cat).

    We had to cope with the blackout, do fire-watching on the College roof (!), and of course we had to produce our ration books at the start of term.

    Happy days!

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    1. Hi Geoff
      I would love to hear more about University life at Hull during WW2. How many students were there? What restrictions and implications were there? What was the bombing of Hull like and how did the population react? What kind of social life was there?
      If you get the opportunity I would really enjoy hearing about this era, which in one sense was only twenty years before my time there but I imagine would be hugely different again?

      Best regards Steve

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      1. Hello Chris

        I’ve sent an article about the Aeronauts (as we were known) and sent it off to the Alumni Association, but it hasn’t been published yet. It tells something about life in during the War, but it’s mainly concerned with the way we had to compress three years study into two years! (During the War, male students were limited to two years and three months.)

        Hull was a University College under London University, and since London didn’t offer a degree in Aeronautics, we had to be content with a Diploma. For the more ‘Engineering’ based subjects, we had to go to Hull Technical College, which had suffered somewhat in the blitz.

        But we got our degrees eventually, as you will read when my blog gets published.

        What else can I tell you about life in Hull at that time? There was the blackout, of course, which meant that our study-bedrooms had to have black cloth curtains. A patrol in the evening made sure that no chink of light could be seen. Some students joined the local Home Guard (Dad’s Army) while others were in the UniversitY Air Squadron.

        Occasionally we would have a dance (to gramophone records) at Needler. Since the men outnumbered the women, local girls including nurses from the local hospital were invited. Walks to the summer-house in the grounds were not unknown!

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    1. Hi Geoff – I have emailed you; we don’t seem to have received it yet and want to confirm where it was sent? Your story will be our earliest contribution so we are keen to share this, Chris

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  3. Hi David
    This brought back many good memories. I was at the university from 1965-1968(Pure and Applied Maths) and spent my last 2 years at Morgan Hall on the Lawns.
    We had no formal dinners, indeed the cafeteria was not built so we had 2 baby belling ovens and hot plates on each floor for 9 people to cook on.
    We did not have to wear gowns. I bought one as it was on the list and then threw it away many years later. The only gown I wore was when I got my degree.
    I spent many years in the student union (it was called that) and attended the weekly dances (more like a market for inspecting the produce).
    I was also in the sit-in in the administrative building. I think because exams were finished and there was very little to do.
    Had a great time during the 3 years

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  4. Historic reminders – in 1966-69 there were around 60 Economics students and one woman, but subjects were critically important. I had my 21st birthday in Nicholson Hall with a chum studying Psychology and Drama, and he was outnumbered about 10:1 with women, which made the party go with more of a swing. Does anyone else remember the stainless steel wastepaper basket in each Lawns room? Great for making party punch, especially if your girlfriend had an uncle on the docks who could get “broken” bottles of spirits for very small prices. My girlfriend also had a father working for a frozen food company, so we also got 36 T-bone steaks and 25kilos of frozen chips – a bit much for our Baby Bellings.

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  5. I, too, was at Hull at the end of the 60s and a resident of Needler. I well remember a certain “Springs” Williams as not just an adept at table football, but as a world-beater at tiddlywinks, he having won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records by winking a number of tiddles (or tiddling a number of winks) in an amazingly short time. To most of us at the time that was more significant than any academic achievement. At the time of the sit-in Hull was labelled by (I think) the Express as the most militant university in the UK. Hurrah! Memory says that the meeting that started the sit-in took place at an un-studently early hour on a Saturday morning, advertised (as was required) through a tiny piece of paper on an obscure noticeboard in the depths of the Students’ Union building, and attended by barely enough militants to make a quorum.
    The vast majority of students knew nothing of the sit-in taking place in their name until the Press descended and the alcohol fumes cleared. At the scheduled Union meeting on the following Wednesday, a packed hall was treated to the reading of a congratulatory telegram from Bertrand Russell and hours of heated debate in which the militant few attempted to outlast the moderate many so that a vote on continuing the sit-in would be in the militants’ favour. And it was heated: a blonde Irishman, whose name now escapes me, made a long and turgid ‘oblique’ (his word) speech and wore a smart, chalk-stripe suit in a (successful) attempt to defuse violent reactions. I was taking photos – for my own use or possible inclusion in Torchlight, then edited by Chris Mullin – until someone grabbed a mike, pointed in my direction and denounced me as a possible spy for the national press! I can’t quite remember whether the vote that ended the sit-in took place that day or at a subsequent meeting, but I do remember that the then leaders of the Students’ Union agreed that the militants could end their protest with a triumphal march from the Admin building to the Union several days later. ‘We’ve all agreed that you have to stop beating your wife, but you can beat her black and blue for another three days and we’ll pretend it isn’t happening’. Hmm.
    The sit-in and the general level of unrest at the time did have an impact unexpected by the militants: the moderate majority began to realise that the Scarlett O’Hara approach to all or any aspect of politics wasn’t guaranteed to bring the looked-for, comfortable outcome. Indeed, several of us who were uncomfortable (you know who you are) set up the Political Apathy Group, dedicated to letting people know what was going on in the local, student, political arena and to pre-empting minority votes that committed the apathetic majority to uncomfortable policies. No prizes for knowing or guessing what put paid to the PAG.
    Spring’s article features photos of one of Needler’s Rag floats; he and all of us involved at the time can be forgiven for omitting one or two key details. Needler and Ferens were bitter rivals in sports, party-throwing, and the battle of the Rag floats; Needler was most often the underdog. The float in the photos was beautifully conceived, magnificent in its construction and glorious in its failure to impress the judges. Yet again, Ferens trumped Needler, on this occasion by presenting a float in the form of a giant turd topped by massive flies. Brilliant and, surely, in 1968 way outside the ceramic box.

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  6. Hi Andy
    I too remember you from the blur of too many years and too many Hull Brewery bitters which I recall was one and three pence a pint…..old money. Sounds like an old dosser but for a pound on a Friday night one could have the customary ten pints and a Chinese ….four shillings and sixpence for the fullworks……and have enough to lurch on the top deck of the Cottingham special bus, back to Needler. Yep always a connoisseur of the best food and drink!
    I vaguely remember going to a meeting called to end the strike but alas by then the damage had been done for good and the days of the eccentric, drunk undergrad who was tolerated as a good old clever clogs went for ever.
    You mentioned tiddlywinks and for many years I was mentioned in the Guinness Book of records as the fastest winker ……others used a different vowel….but they stopped using it, even though it has never been beaten.
    I have just had an email from Ed Bicknell which was a great, as he was a real character who was just regarded as Mr Music in Needler…..you never questioned his ability to get the best band at the best price, but instead just gave him the date and the budget…..he did the rest and never failed.
    Nostalgia, nostalgia……where’s the zimmerframe.

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      1. Hi Chris
        Yep I played for the Hull Winkers team in the mid sixties and was actually selected to play for England in the Guinness trophy…….Sky Sports were not around then, so a sporting superstar hit the dust!
        Thanks for putting me in touch with Ed Bicknell.
        Best regards Steve

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  7. The article about life at Hull in the 1960s and the additional comments, particularly Geoff Heath the aeronaut of the 1940s, made me think of my time there from 1952 to 1956, especially as there was no mention anywhere of the very large Camp Hall which was an ex-army camp. In Geoff’s time it would have been still in use for its original purpose and by the 1960s will have been dismantled to make way for The Lawns. This camp consisted of ( 70 plus ? ) 4 and 5 room nissen huts, the rooms being divided by non soundproof breeze blocks. There was a corridor down one side which led to the outside small ablution block which could be a bit cold in winter. The camp was in a large figure of eight with the dining room and kitchen in the middle, with the only telephone. Breakfasts were informal but evening meals were formal which, of course, meant jackets and ties.

    Ladies were allowed as guests in Camp Hall on Saturdays and Sundays from, I think, 4.00pm to 8.00pm but this was pretty hard to check ! We chaps could collect a pre-ordered tea tray from the kitchen and carry it back to our hut. I am told, mainly by my wife Ann Naylor ( History 1956 ), that Thwaite Hall was run like a residential public school for young ladies. In the 1950s we were very conformist in our dress and general attitude although there were a few exceptions ! There was a dance in the student union hall/dining room every Saturday to the Norris Walker band ( Mr Walker had a local bicycle shop ), with the rather drunken rugby players ( of which I was one ) coming in somewhat late.

    There were only about 750 students in 1952, including quite a few ex-army chaps who considered themselves ( rightly ? ) rather superior to those of us straight from school. The university was fully residential and I believe that it was only in 1955 when student numbers passed 1,000 that senior students were required to go out into ‘digs’; there were then no student houses.

    The building to the left as we came onto campus had, I think, lecture rooms for the arts, some senior staff offices and the university administration. The main entrance area was known as ‘Crush’ and contained the pigeon holes for our mail. The opposite building was mainly science, but also had the library ( The Brynmor Jones library was to come somewhat later ) and the staff common room. There were many huts both for lecture rooms and lecturers’ offices.

    Rationing was still in force until, I believe, 1954 and we had to hand in our ration books at the beginning of term, and, if my memory serves me correctly, we had to book out and in if we wished to eat our evening meal in the student dining room on campus.

    My memory may not be as good as it should be (!) and I would be happy to be corrected by those whose faculties are somewhat better than mine and who might perhaps add other memories of those happy days.

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  8. Steve’s account has awakened many a memory of my life at Hull in the 1960’s. I became aware of the university when quite young and by the time I finally attended as a student I already had had much contact with the place. My family moved to Hull in 1959 with my father’s job and we lived across the road in Newland Park. My first encounter was as a 15 year old when I attended my first formal dance – Hogmanay with the Scot’s Society of St Andrews – in one of the Nissen Huts on campus!

    I followed that by attending a lunchtime lecture a year or so later, where the speaker was Enoch Powell MP – conveniently I attended the girl’s high school next door. For a rather left wing establishment I don’t recollect much heckling or disruptive behaviour though I am sure he was challenged through questions. My next memories are more personal as I regularly attended the Student Union Saturday night dances as a “townie” and where I acquired a number of student boyfriends over the next two to three years. Fond memories! Sadly, however, the year I took my A levels, the latest conquest failed his first year exams as we pretended to ourselves that we really were studying whilst sunbathing in Queen’s Gardens! My results weren’t great either!

    A year later I took two new subjects – economics and economic history – and sailed through with double A’s ( I sat for two exam boards just to make sure). I finally gained entry into the institution in my own right. Here I must thank a marvellous tutor from the College of Commerce, Mike Brown, who two years later joined the university staff himself. I studied my B.SC (Econ) from 1965 to 1968 where there were 110 students, I believe, in my year, of whom only 10 were female. This 1965-1968 year group went on to get two first class degrees, something quite unusual in that subject previously and the whole university celebrated.

    I have many a fond memory of both academic and social experiences whilst at Hull – I took economic geography as part of my course and remember Jay Appleton as well. My Profs were JG Wilson and Barbek (?), the latter once apologised to myself and my friend, as we walked into the chemistry building for a tutorial, for the inclusion in our group of a certain John Prescott and his merchant seamen cronies. They were very disparaging about us middle class girls who couldn’t possible understand the deeper aspects of economics etc. As I recollect, we actually enjoyed arguing with them and didn’t feel at all threatened by their opposite views to our own. Our final reward was that both Pat and I achieved a higher degree than he did ( he got a third) – I note he rarely mentions attending Hull University whenever his education comes up.

    I also enjoyed the social life and many an afternoon was spent in the upstairs bar of the Student Union playing bridge. On Rag days we had a float named The Bar Lounge Beer Mugs! I met my husband, Rob, (Pure Mathematics 1964-1967) in my first year though we didn’t marry until 1971. and are still going strong!

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  9. Thanks, Graham, for mentioning me. As I recall (over 70 years on!), Camp Hall was the site of an army camp for American soldiers, many of them black.

    Then suddenly in June 1944, they all disappeared. We learned later that they were taking part in the D-Day operation.

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  10. Geography 1966-9. I found Steve Williams article very interesting, appreciated his comment on Jay Appleton- great memories of his part in the Historical Geography field course, as well as his fascinating lectures.
    One thing puzzles me -surely the great sit-in was in 1968, the year of the student revolts? Pleased to hear HUSSO is still going strong.
    Yours Robert Draycott

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  11. Thanks for the article Steve and all of you who have commented so far, it brings back a lot of memories. I managed to squeak out a BA Drama (with some side-wanderings into American Studies and Philosophy) from 1967 – 1970 and I remember the sit-in very well. Mostly because I had to keep leaving it for rehearsals, which wasn’t very political of me. (I think it was in 1968 rather than 1967?) As a Drama student the centre of our world in 1967 and 1968 was the Theatre Lab – an old gymnasium at the end of Salmon Grove, where we rehearsed, put on shows and sweated through Saturday morning theatre exercises with teachers from big, bad London. Replaced in 1970 by the huge, sleek and well-appointed Gulbenkian Centre, we felt like we had been relocated from an old narrowboat to an ocean liner, most disconcerting. Apart from nightly forays to the Buttery for general sustenance, we were a pretty insular crowd and the sit-in opened my eyes to all sorts of new people. I have no idea what we were demonstrating about but I remember it was all tremendously exciting and meaningful at the time. Of course I was a drama student, so that doesn’t surprise me.

    Sadly I never visited any of the traditional Halls. My first two years I lived in student housing on Cranbrook Avenue and my final year in a greatly loved but completely dilapidated flat on the top floor of a condemned building on Newland Avenue. Checking Google Earth I see that my student house looks exactly the same as it did 48 years ago. There is no sign of the condemned building. I did visit Loten Hall (on campus) a lot because that’s where my boyfriend lived, but the Halls were a misty and unknown country somewhere down the other end of Cottingham Road.

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    1. Well I’ve since discovered why the dilapidated old flat on Newland Avenue didn’t show up on Google Earth. It’s because it was actually on Salisbury Street and is now a very smart building full of very smart little flats. Age and a dodgy memory – what a combination!

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  12. I was at Needler at the same time as our Tiddlywinks Champion and spent all three years there , so remember many of the incidents . Compared to others I must have spent a boring and conventional existence , involved in RailSoc and often aided and abetted by Jay Appleton and George de Boer of the Geography department .

    I acquired a girl friend from the formidably guarded Thwaite …they really did have a guard dog ..and even ended up marrying her !

    I recognised everyone in the photos …is it really that long ago ? Bruce Palmer

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    1. Hi Bruce
      Remember you well. Still in touch with a lot of the ex- Needler group mainly through John Marshall. They include Jerry Kemp, Steve Clarke, Paul Hermiston, Martin Ruddock, Andy Park, Al Black and Chris Scott amongst others. Some of them still meet up regularly for walks across the Pennines ……far too arduous for me. Glad you avoided the guard dog and finally won over the fair lady.
      All the best Steve

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      1. The various posts do seem to have captured the sprit of the times and of Needler in particular. Your group were actually a year ahead of me ..I graduated in 1970.

        From the Geography /History joint I kept in touch with Alan Wilkinson who ended up as Head of History at Bishops Veasey school in Sutton Coldfield after trying his hand at being a tax inspector . He died about 10 years ago .

        I do remember the *sit in *and although I didn’t take part I visited one of my friends there to see was going on . He ended up being a public school headmaster and is still working !

        Lost touch with everyone else . Bruce

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      2. Hi Bruce

        It would be fascinating to map out what became of our contemporaries, like your public school headmaster et al. I suppose at that time we were the favoured 5% and very roughly populated the best 5% of jobs whether they were in business, the professions or academia. A huge contrast to today where a lot nearer 50% gain a degree and have to compete a lot harder for similar level jobs. Just one of the many changes that have occurred over the last 50 years and which we inevitably took for granted. It is only one reflects what differences have occurred that one begins to comprehend the vastness of the massive change …….goodness knows what 2066 will be like! Let’s hope Hull alumni continue to have a positive influence on our ‘progress’.

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  13. Although it was such a long time ago I have taken the opportunity to visit Cottingham/Needler over the years when in the area …most recently last November .It really hasn’t changed that much , at least superficially, but Needler does look a bit run down and has done for a while now .Security means I cant go for a wander round any more but I expect everything we knew is still there …if not the *bedders * and waitress service at dinner .In those days living there was really like staying in a half decent hotel and students were certainly treated as basically Gentlemen.

    Cottingham still seems a nice place to live…just as it did in 1967.

    One person I lost touch with was Malc Parker a fellow Needler resident and a Footie man as well as Railsoc .

    Just been drinking a coffee whilst typing this ..and the spoon is rather *modern * and has a N on it …now where did that come from ? Bruce

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    1. Hi Bruce
      Two points to add to your latest mail. I believe Needler is now up for sale and will thus no longer be a residential hall. I suppose the days of the ‘gentleman’ student in a provincial university are now long gone. However I totally agree it was like being in a half decent hotel with your room cleaned, your bed made and your meals cooked and served. There was a lounge, a library, a games room, a separate music room with the best stereo equipment donated by Needler Sweets, tennis courts and lovely grounds. Very very different than the Lawns which were just getting completed and although very comfy were regarded by us traditionalists, as a bit modern and do it yourself.
      As to Malcolm Parker, I heard about him recently and he is now retired but still leads holiday groups in both bird watching and I think rail holidays. I will try and find out more.

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      1. You might be interested to know we are planning a ‘Goodbye Needler’ residential reunion in June 2016, to celebrate Needler’s part in the history of the Hull experience.

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      2. Hi Steve, I’ll be sure that you have the details once they are confirmed. By the way,
        I read a novel offering a very detailed fictionalised account of the Hull sit-ins by a pseudonymous Dart Travis called The Women Came and Went. I will put you in contact with the author as he was your contemporary and you may know him, but the novel is here:
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1908103175/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?qid=1453877538&sr=8-6&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=dart+travis&dpPl=1&dpID=51YEoElRk9L&ref=plSrch

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  14. Hi Chris Have now read the novel, which I got from Amazon but didn’t recognise the author from his contemporary picture. Interesting but not exactly as I remember it….mind you it was a long time ago! I will forward your link to Ed Bicknell, as I am sure he will be interested in the musical references. All the best Steve

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  15. Warden Mr Treherne, Domestic Bursar, Miss Saxby. During my two years at Ferens, 1969-70 and 1970-71, I recall that Miss Saxby was a large lady with a wonderful personality, Mr Treherne a well spoken but quiet man. Breakfast was a ‘full English’ and we were each issued with half a loaf of bread and a quantity of butter so that we could provide ourselves with toast during the day or evening. Each floor had its own toaster and other cooking facilities, though fair to say, the evening meal, a sumptuous affair when compared to today’s university canteen offerings, was extremely filling. I recall that several residents would often engage in a ‘bread fight’ prior to tucking in to their evening meal. This would involve flicking dry pieces of white bread at each other across the the bench tables!

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  16. Henry
    As you may well recall Ferens and Needler were old enemies, as they were the only two male traditional halls of residence. Many tricks were played on each other in my time with one of the better ones being a nocturnal raid by Ferens on the Needler library. This was a fair size room but when we awoke we discovered that the whole space from floor to ceiling had been filled by rolled up newspapers. This was a gargantuan task to have undertaken and one that did result in retaliatory raids on the Ferens laundry but this was not in the same class, as the Ferens raid which they acknowledged was their doing.

    Another such trick that must go down as a mystery was the placing of all the Needler refectory tables, chairs and cutlery arranged al fresco on the lawn one summer morning. I was president at the time and I will always remember the caretaker, employed at Needler, coming upto me and congratulating me on such a good initiative. I explained I could not take credit but unlike the library incident,nobody ever claimed responsibility for this. If you were the instigators do let us all know and solve the mystery of the phantom furniture removers.

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