University of Hull to say goodbye to Ferens Hall and the Lawns

As part of our future strategy and commitment to student experience, the University of Hull has taken the decision to put Ferens Hall and The Lawns to market. We know that for many alumni Ferens Hall and the Lawns form a key part of your memories from your time as students at the University of Hull and that is why we wanted to let you know why we have taken the decision, and how it feeds into our plans for delivering the best possible experience for future generations of University of Hull students.

As the University looks to the future with its 2030 strategy, the decision to put Ferens and the Lawns to market has not been taken lightly, and it will be with some sadness that we say goodbye to buildings which have been a key part of our history and heritage. But their sale reflects our forward thinking approach and streamlines our ambitions for the future as one university community operating from one central campus. This step will improve student experience, centralise our community hub and strengthen our sense of place.

The student experience is at the heart of the University of Hull’s strategy for the future. We have responded to decreased demand from students for out of town student accommodation, such as at The Lawns Campus. The focus for future intakes of students is now on new build accommodation. The University has invested in more modern purpose built student accommodation on Campus and this contributed to a situation in which we had only 20 applications out of a possible 600 rooms for the Lawns accommodation for the academic year of 2018/2019.

The proceeds generated by the sale of the Ferens Hall and The Lawns will contribute to the development and growth of the wider university, expanding the impact of education and research, strengthening innovation and knowledge exchange, and building new partnerships, as part of the 2030 strategy.

We want to ensure that you are kept updated through the process and reassure you of our commitment to local engagement by regularly reviewing feedback from the local community.

As alumni, if you would like to contact us about this, please email us at alumni@hull.ac.uk

In addition, we would love to compile alumni memories and photographs of the Lawns and Ferens Hall into an archive celebrating their history. If you have picture, memories or anything you would like to share – then send them to us at alumni@hull.ac.uk

36 thoughts on “University of Hull to say goodbye to Ferens Hall and the Lawns

  1. Deeply saddened to hear of the Lawns sell off. I think its a myth that all 18 year olds want to pay a high rent to stay in expensive on-campus accommodation and are incapable of catching a bus into the university.
    The Lawns and the wider Cottingham community provided some of the best years of my university life and it is extremely sad this couldn’t be part of the future accommodation offer of the university, perhaps at a mid market rent that would appeal to the more budget conscious.
    It seems university finance is now exclusively focussed on attracting rich foreign students and ignoring UK students from more modest backgrounds and budgets to the detriment of all else! I hope the site doesnt sell and a future administration has a rethink.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fully agree Paul. I loved the inspirational design of the Lawns which facilitated mixing first on your landing, then block, hall, and different halls. Everyone settled in so quickly, and having 1st to 3rd years all together was great, everyone could join in with team sports as you didn’t have to be an A sports fanatic. I genuinely don’t think there were any mental health problems as there was such a supportive network. Meal times at the Lawns Centre, discos, and space invaders!! I could go on for ever. Such a shame.

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      1. So very true. As well as queuing for the evening meal in the Lawns Centre, followed by Space Invaders, the Saturday night disco, with Stones bitter at 36p a pint (1979). There were the water fights between landings in Nicholson A Block (dodging the Warden) and the late night hall block parties. I remember ‘Squeeze Out Sparks at Morgan Hall!’, circa summer 1980.
        Also tennis in the summer, football in the winter. Will today’s students get this in their campus high rise blocks on top of their lecture theatre? I doubt it.

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  2. So farewell then Ferens Hall-so many wonderful times there-not forgetting the legendary Lawns Disco…….very very sad but all things must pass…..

    All together now-the Ferens song “We don’t play for adoration , we don’t play for victory….” Sadly I cannot continue as I fear a knock on the door from the police in these strange times and frightening those of a more gentle disposition……

    LLb Law 1979 to 1982 and a Ferens resident-M Top one year (the psychiatric wing) then C Top for two.

    Pass that gin Son……

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    1. Always sad when memories are interfered with. Was Ferens part of the Lawns or separate?

      I’m always a little sceptical about so called justification for change. Struggling to believe that for 18/19 only 20 applicants for the Lawns.

      I appreciate I attended Hull 66 to 69 eons ago and thoroughly enjoyed life in Loten Hall but many mates thought life away from campus at the Lawns was mega.

      Moods etc change over time and that’s just life. Memories remain though.

      I also attended Sheffield Uni for postgrad work and stayed in a brand new Hall of residence in 69/70 which as demolished a few years ago destroying more of my memories.

      I think the key issue is whether decisions taken do represent progress or whether it’s change for change sake. Only time will tell.

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    2. Ah the Lawns Disco on Saturday nights – great memories!

      Nicholson Hall 1979-1980

      I do wonder how the Uni marketed (or didnt) The Lawns to contemporary students..

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    3. Steve, my years with you, Wardy, JT, Phil Gale, Big Steve, Alan Broderick et al on M-Top and C-Top were some of the best. The midnight raids on Needler, water fights and fireworks across the quad, Errol Flynn, Lido Shuffle…… Wonderful memories. Very sad to hear of its passing.

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      1. Smiffy-How very true-they were happy days…learning our subjects and learning about life….friendship….and so much more-being off campus made it special-our own community……always remember the laughs and the gins!!Happy days….

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      2. Steve, Don’t mention the Needle Raids! I did once but I think I got away with it.
        You are allowed to mention the water fights though. They were only in preparation for 2007 after all.
        And yes I remember the return of fire, salvoes of rockets from H,I & J block in response to the M block volleys.

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  3. As a fresher I was allocated a place in Downs Hall when it first opened in 1966. From such a distance in time this looks like a dodgy decision: the Lawns seemed to me the perfect site. Cottingham life was such a well-balanced contrast to Hull, and we didn’t have to live above the shop. It’s a very sad development.

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  4. Very sad news. Living off campus used to be a big deal, but I guess things move on.

    I have some fantastic memories from my 3 years at Ferens (1979-82), the only hall with its own independently managed bar. Never to be forgotten were the ritual cold baths for any visiting Student Union officials; the incursions into Needler Hall to kidnap their portrait of HM The Queen; and the magnificent overnight construction of a pyramid in the quad using all 28 wooden tables from the Ferens dining hall.

    Soon to be gone, but never forgotten.

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    1. Hello Mike-JCR president I seem to recall….not to forget borrowing the Needler park bench and delivering it to Morts corridor…….great days and times indeed……seem to remember that the Bar had a huge debt to a brewery…….hey ho….

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      1. Great to see some names from the past. Hope you are all going strong. Fortunately there are memories, and photos. My one of the pyramid has been sent to the Alumni Association for their archives. The Humber Bridge wasn’t the only magnificent engineering project in the area at that time…

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  5. I must have been one of the first students to have a room in the lawns in the summer term of 1966. They had just become available and I was in need of one term’s accommodation before finishing my PGCEd. Had a really nice time there and my only experience of living in a Hall of Residence during my 4 years at Hull.

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  6. Sad to read this, although predictable after Thwaite Hall’s closure, where I spent 3 happy years. Mirroring the thoughts of other commentators, university halls are seismic in making friends and acclimatizing to university life. Cottingham always had a lovely vibe and community feel to it, being outside the hustle and bustle of the city and campus, many local businesses will suffer too.

    Unfortunately these decisions are similar to the postwar tearing up of tram lines, once you realize the error you’ll end up laying the track again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I fear its a huge mistake. If the Lawns was getting few applications, this was down to the marketing and pricing by the Uni, not the attractiveness as a place to live. I can think of nothing more depressing than spending all my waking hours within the perimeter of the campus and paying £6000 a year for the privilege. I expect future students will rebel, but by then The Lawns will have been demolished! Myopic thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Long live G block! (Ferens Hall) 1990-1991. What a shame it couldn’t be renovated along with the Lawns and attract new students…

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  8. I suppose times and opinions change.
    I had a wonderful time in Nicholson Hall in 1967 and 1968.
    The discos were really something – Pink Floyd played whilst I was there, all sound and lights!!

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  9. When l was at Hull during the late 70s, the student population was under 5,000. Now it’s 20,000. Despite the new developments on campus, several halls as well as the Lawns have closed. So where are they putting all those extra students?

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      1. Unfortunately that breadth of options no longer includes anything affordable in Cottingham

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  10. Many happy memories of Grant Hall 86-87. I always thought one of the attractions of the Lawns was precisely because it was off campus, and built a unique separate community amongst the students who were there. At least you can’t sell off my memories!!

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  11. sad times indeed, so many memories, a few of them are mine but most are of the and then you will never guess what you did next type…. smells of short sighted profiteering. used to enjoy the fairly flat bike ride into uni and the different atmosphere the Lawns had withers own student leadership separate from that of the main union. Not quite as political and definitely more looking for an excuse to party…..

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      1. The article may be available elsewhere but I’ve not seen it or looked for it. Unfortunately it is subject to strict copyright so unless you or someone you know can log in, it may not be accessible to you. As far as I know, alumni can get an associate reader account at the library, but I don’t know if that includes access to online resources.

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  12. Myopic… there’s no way that tastes have changed in ten years from being over subscribed (I was on a waiting list!) to having 20 people apply.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very suspicious – perhaps they failed to mention it in the accommodation list?
      Probably needed some dodgy figures to justify the loans for the tower block building on campus

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      1. The lawns had all the memories of my summer school. It is not only the start of my studying abroad, but also the place where I met my husband. I understand that something will change, but something will never change.

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    2. Ten years ago there was little alternative. Once the more ‘luxurious’ halls were built, demand for the Lawns plummeted in favour of the new ones. Of course, the way things were marketed changed a lot once the new halls were built – unsurprising given the need to make the investment quickly start to pay a return.

      Another aspect that has changed over the years is the involvement of parents. When I was visiting universities on open days in the late 80s, I was on my own, as were most people. Nowadays, a high proportion of prospective students bring their parents and they have a greater say in the decisions made – they tend to prefer their son/daughter in a new build, on site, close to the facilities and in what looks like a safer environment, particularly if that is what they have seen at other universities they have visited.

      Having lived at the Lawns myself for 2 years, I appreciate the times I had there, but recently it was looking very dated and the University was falling behind other places in what it could offer, and since Higher Education was turned into a market where institutions live or die based on their ‘product’, we couldn’t afford to be seen as not offering the same standard as others.

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  13. Ferens Hall was the best! After a false start at Goldsmiths it was Ferens and Cottingham that helped me settle in Hull. I felt so happy there. The blocks (I was in J block I think), the JCR, the formals, the silliness, the sunny quad, but most of all the people and the atmosphere of the place. We had such fun there and made friendships for life. And the pub in the lawns was a great place to meet with friends and go on elsewhere only if needed. Times I will never forget. It was so great my step sister also stayed in Ferens a few years later. I feel very sad that they are closing.
    1994-1997

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  14. Living in Ferens Hall in 1960 was my first experience of living away from home in a communal situation – a great experience. Freshers’ week, formal meals together, communal TV watching, water fights with the fire hoses (definitely frowned on), raids on the girl’s halls (both of them), evenings with the locals in the King Bill Pub, organised dances, and building the Rag Week Float (see attached photo for 1961). We once challenged the girls of Thwaite Hall to a rugby match, and being “gentlemen” we wore plimsolls (remember them). The girls, taking a more serious approach, wore rugby boots. We were of course annihilated and they claimed the Ferens Stags Head as a trophy. The friends made there have remained a very important part of my life and although now in my 80s we are still in contact.

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