The 1950’s In Your Words: campus life as remembered by alumni

The Student Union and Refectory in 1953 (taken from the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre)

I went to Appleby Grammar in Cumbria and applied to University in Hull – it was all a shot in the dark. As a result of my timing – 1952-1955 I got two degrees from my time in Hull. I got one of the first degrees accredited by Hull, and one of the last accredited by the University of London.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

For many of us, our days studying at university represent some of the best days of our lives, but as the years pass and times change, it becomes ever more important to record these memories and remember what life used to be like. This is why we are creating an ‘in you words’ series of articles, in which alumni remember what life was like at University at different times. We’ll be following up with special features on other decades, so please do look out for those.

If you would like to read the first article in the series, focusing on the 1960s, you can read that here:
The 1960s In Your Words: campus life as remembered by alumni >>

We would also like to thank the archivists at the Hull History Centre for kindly giving us permission to use some of their images from their archives in this article. Unless otherwise stated, the images come from the archive.

If you have an interest in digging deeper and finding out more about life at the University of Hull in the 1950s, you may wish to explore these further articles:

“Awful speech, just the type to get you elected.” Life on campus, 1951-55 >>
Life on campus: 1948-52>>
Key Figures on Campus: Robert Marchant, 1947-1979 >>
Lily Gamble: Maths, Sport and Lifelong Love: ‘I owe it all to the University of Hull’ >>
Key Figures on Campus: Lord Michael Lindsay – The economics lecturer who helped Mao rise to power >>
Key Figures on Campus: Professor Jay Appleton : 1920 – 2015 >>
Worldwide entries invited to new poetry prize named after distinguished graduate Gerard Rochford >>

The story of the University of Hull really is the story of the people who live, work and studied here with us. If reading this article brings back great memories, remember that you can still play a part on campus today by supporting our staff, students and our wider community. If you would like to make a donation to support our work, then please click this link to find out more >>

We would love to hear your memories of the 1950s or other decades – if you would like to contribute to an article then please email and share your memories or photographs with us.

Thwaite Hall, 1950 (taken from the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre)

Parties and Social Life

There was no bar on campus or in the halls and the university was  a completely ‘dry’ university. I presume that this was because the original university college was set up in 1928 by business people in Hull who I believe were Quakers and therefore would not allow alcohol on any of the sites. I do not know when this was relaxed. The Cottingham pubs were therefore popular, especially when fellow student Jack Johnson, a highly skilled pianist, was in the “King Billy’.

On Saturday evenings the refectory in the student union became the dance hall when Norris Walker and his Orchestra  played.  They were all in evening dress, with Norris in a white tuxedo. Norris Walker owned the bicycle shop on the nearby roundabout (the age of DJs etc had not yet been invented!). Of course, the students were dressed much more formally than nowadays with the men wearing a university blazer or other jacket with collar and tie, and the girls also smartly dressed.  

Graham Smith – 1955, Law 1955 in collaboration with Ann Smith (formerly Naylor) – 1956, History and Brian Anthony – 1955, History

Social life seemed to centre around the pubs in Cottingham, the Union, the White Harte. The weekly dances in the Union stand out in the memory. I remember a band leader Norris Walker. There would be live music every week. I have memories of more formal dances and balls in City Hall. I wonder where we got dinner jackets and black ties from. The live music would have been quite old fashioned dance music from shows – jazz and swing, that sort of thing.

Pubs in Cottingham would be heavily populated by students. They were quite ordinary pubs but with a good group they’d be good places to go. I remember the Rugby Club pub in town. I also remember that playing cards was a popular past-time. There were always lots of people sitting around the Union playing cards.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

Saturday evening dances in the Union were a highlight of the week but I forget the name of the excellent band.   Annual rag weeks were fun too. Miss Dow was the Thwaite warden and I particularly remember her phrase for admonishing some rather marry male guests for “using the kitchen sinks for purposes for which they were not constructed”!

Ann Anthony (Daniels) – 1955, Social Studies

Image from Graham Smith – The ticket and dance programme for the silver jubilee ball at the city hall. The price (cut off at the bottom) was 20 shillings ( £1 today ) for a double ticket. You will see that there were two orchestras, including Norris Walker and his orchestra. You could book your partner in advance for any particular dance.
We do have the original, of course.

Campus – People and Places

There was a healthy mix of students.  Some of the men were a little older, having completed their National Service, as indeed were my fellow Social Studies students, and there were quite a number from Africa. Also, students came from very varied backgrounds and included many who had won scholarships to grammar schools and were the first in their families to go to university. Having come from a girls boarding school myself, this alone was a valuable education, and I subsequently spent 63 very happy years with a geography student, Stanley Anthony, from a Nottinghamshire mining village, until he sadly died in 2017. It was his friendship with African students that inspired him to become an Education Officer in Ghana, and he was involved in helping to support Ghanaian schools all his life.

Ann Anthony (Daniels) – 1955, Social Studies

I remember Bob Crier, Roy Hattersley and Kevin MacNamara, who all became MPs. Kevin was in the law department. I think you could tell even in those days they were headed to careers in politics. Roy Hattersley became one of the Spitting Image characters. I remember Jack Johnson, who shared a Nissenhut with me. Keith Lawrence, who was in the Law Department, whose father was Chief Constable of Hull. There was Jim Locke, who later came to work in Harrogate and also worked in Hong Kong, where my brother lives. Bob Bryan – he was first of all a teacher when he graduated and later became a theatre lighting director at Glyndebourne. I’m still in touch with him. Jerry Newton was also in our hut. Jerry became a teacher in Leeds.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

Entering from Cottingham Road, the building on the left was the Arts Building, the front hall of which was known as ‘Crush’ and had the alphabetical letter boxes for everyone at the university. This building had the administrative offices, some offices for senior academic staff and lecture rooms. The building on the right, across the ‘souplate’ of grass was the Science Block, which housed some lecture rooms, the senior common room and the university library, which needed some huts to be built nearby to give much needed additional study spaces  Walking straight down past the Arts Block, the Chemistry Block was on the right and at the end was the Student Union Building which contained a large dining room (refectory) and kitchen and student common rooms, one for men and one for women on the ground floor and a mixed common room upstairs.  

The three buildings to the left of the university, behind the Arts Block the other side of a hedge was in those days Hull Ladies’ Teacher Training College, (now part of the university) many of whose students would come to our Saturday night dance. In my first term in 1952, I had a date with a young lady from that college and when I went to collect her I was wheeled before the Principal to be interviewed before being allowed to take her out with an instruction on the time I had to bring her home. Behind the student common rooms there was the cricket ground and buildings for squash and badminton. Across Inglemire Lane were the sports fields for rugby, football, hockey and tennis, presumably the same as today. There were few other distractions in those days and most people played sport of one sort or another.

Graham Smith – 1955, Law 1955 in collaboration with Ann Smith (formerly Naylor) – 1956, History and Brian Anthony – 1955, History

One of the other characters around was, of course, Philip Larkin as Chief Librarian. I knew nothing of his poetry.  The image I have of him is of a pale, bald fellow, with prominent round spectacles, a brown briefcase and a long beige mac.  He never smiled nor seemed to talk to anyone, but occasionally prowled around the library.  Presumably he conserved his energies for elsewhere.

Dr David Bitcliffe – 1961, Classics

My very first impressions were how luxurious the Union building was:  the good food in the canteen, then coffee upstairs sitting in those lovely blue comfy chairs that you sank into. Also Thwaite Hall was very good with excellent study bedrooms and lovely gardens. Later I discovered Camp Hall residents did not have the same comforts but the ones I knew were happy enough.

The University was small enough to know many of the other students, or at least which year, department, or society they were in. Some of the Union leaders I remember (perhaps because they turned up in public life afterwards) were Roy Hattersley, Fred Moorhouse, Kevin Macnamara and Mike (Chidgley?). Our Head of department was Mr Drinkwater, famous for starting phrases with ‘by and large’, Psychology Prof Westby and the rather scatty but insightful Mrs Collins in charge of practical work.

Ann Anthony (Daniels) – 1955, Social Studies

Eleanor had come to Hull to join her schoolgirl sweetheart Jack but otherwise in the group boy friends came and went. It was wise to invite a popular boy well in advance for the Hall’s Annual Summer or Christmas Ball so that the correct formal attire could be hired. Otherwise my time and efforts were centred on the French Department as I got to grips with lectures in French and all the reading, writing and translation for this course while learning Swedish ab initio for my subsidiary subject. In the department my close buddies following the same courses were Penny from Stratford and Elizabeth who, uniquely among my friends, lived at home as she was born and bred in Hull. She arranged with her father who worked at the port for us to visit the vast Fish Auction at 6am one day. Elizabeth also became adept at signing me in to lectures when I did not appear.

Pat Collings – French, 1963


Photo from Pat Collings – the Departmental drama production of Le Jeu d’Adam

It was expected that we audition for parts in the Departmental annual drama production. Elizabeth landed the big part of Eve in a twelfth century Mystery play, Le Jeu d’Adam (about the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) possibly the oldest surviving drama written in the Anglo- Norman dialect of medieval French. I do not recall having much to learn to say in my part as a diablotin (little devil) but there was a certain amount of leaping around with my fellow devils from the flaming gates of Hell brightly painted on the scenery. Years later Elizabeth sent me a newspaper cutting complete with photograph. I have no idea which diablotin is me! Penny, Elizabeth and I were ecstatic to see our names posted at the top of the graduation list: all three with First class degrees. 

In the Final year production of Knock by Jules Romain; Elizabeth played the role of La Dame en Violet and I was Madame Parpalaid the wife of the country doctor putting on airs and trying to speak like a cultured Parisienne. There was a scene in a vintage car which was a cardboard on stage model. I remember carrying a parasol.

My only other stage appearances in life after Hull were teaching staff events  – Cinderella for my leaving Assembly from Chilwell School, a Cabaret dance routine in a staff event at Rushcliffe School to the song Hey Big Spender and, many years later Al Laddin in the U3A pantomime of the same name – a fitting note to conclude on!

Pat Collings – French, 1963


Image from Graham Smith – (The Law Society, ( a number of students not there for the photo.)  I am centre front, as the president, with Professor Taylor on my right and then along two ( 3 in from the end ). is Hugh Bevan. On my left is student Mike Barker ( now deceased ) who became a Crown Court Judge. and on his left is Graham Hughes.   In those days the majority of students in the Law Department were from Nigeria. 

The Professor of Classics was the redoubtable Marshall McDonald Gillies. He had been appointed as Classics lecturer in 1928 and then professor in 1946 (until his retirement in 1968). He was a portly figure by the late 1950s and sported a prominent hearing aid. He seemed always to have been dressed in the same brown three-piece suit.  His modus operandi was usually lecturing in jovial tones, with a grin, but interactive discussion was rare. He lived near the university and was a great cat-lover.  He was also an enthusiastic leader of expeditions to such Yorkshire Roman antiquities as the Roman road on Wheeldale Moor, Rudston Villa and Cawthorne army camps.

Other Classics staff included Dr Norman (a Roman Britain specialist), Mr (later Dr) Chilton (specialising in Augustus and Tiberius), and Mr (later Dr) Landels (a lively specialist in Ancient Technology).  But special mention must be made of Dr Tim Ryder.  He took me for Greek.  He was remarkable to students in offering his hospitality generously to them.  More remarkable still is the fact that he has maintained his contact with past Classics students up to the present day! To those who wish to do so he sends a newsletter every Christmas, updating us all on any news about old students and his own family.  He moved to Reading University, when the Hull department closed, and retired in that city until recently. He now resides in a retirement home in Sheffield, near one of his daughters and her family.

Dr David Bitcliffe – 1961, Classics

I remember Professor FW Taylor, a Professor of Law. He was a Welshman and in lectures he was very difficult to hear and to understand, partly because the topics were very new and difficult. He taught land law and he gave his subject matter a historical basis. 

I knew that I had a handwritten letter from him, and I managed to find it. It was dated the 5th December 1955 – I must have written to him from Harrogate where I was an Articled Clerk by then. I had discovered that Hull was not on a list of Universities that allowed you to have a slightly smoother transition to the legal profession. Professor Taylor wrote to say that he had tried to get it on the list and was hoping that this would follow shortly.

Hugh Bevan was a real gentleman, very patient, very easy to follow, still teaching a difficult subject. Years later I was at a test match in Lords and as I was walking behind the stand and I bumped into him. We had a chat and he made a very good case for remembering who I was, although he can’t have remembered after 30-40 years.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

The Law Department of which I was a member, had only 4 members of staff , headed by Professor F.W Taylor, with an office in Arts Block and including Graham Hughes, and Hugh Bevan who remained at Hull and became Professor and Head of Department. I believe that there is now a Chair named after him. Hugh is still with us, aged in his later 90s, and is in a care home in Cambridge suffering from Parkinsons and cannot now even write, using an emanuensis when he needs to write. The Head of History was Professor Dickens who left in 1954 to Head the History Department at London University, and other lecturers included ‘Freddie’  Brookes who would just read his ancient notes as a lecture and Dr. Douwi  who was a very minute lady who needed help to cross to the library in a wind!

Graham Smith – 1955, Law 1955 in collaboration with Ann Smith (formerly Naylor) – 1956, History and Brian Anthony – 1955, History

I came to Hull in 1950 to study for a general degree in chemistry, physics and maths. Chemistry was a strong department led by Prof Brynmor Jones. He’d had the good sense (or fortune) to appoint two young lecturers, Roy Baldwin and George Gray, who were first rate teachers and became brilliant researchers who eventually got the recognition they deserved.

The maths lecturer was Mrs Neumann who was reputedly very good. Trouble was I had difficulty with her heavy German accent and spent most of the time in her lectures trying to follow the words rather than the principals involved.

I don’t remember much of interest about the physics department which was headed by Prof Pollard(?). He was approaching retirement but was probably quite a character since he drove a new sporty Hillman Minx convertible. I can remember him speeding past the peloton of cyclists on the road to Cottingham and, for most of us, Camp Hall.

Leslie Mayor – 1954, Chemistry


Image from Pat Collings – 1963 French

The main memories of going to lectures were that they were fixed – they filled each day morning to afternoon and there was never any question of missing one. We were all very attached to the process and didn’t dare to miss a lecture. For a youngster from the Cumbrian countryside, having a large proportion of Nigerian students in the class was a new experience and a fascinating and valuable meeting of different backgrounds and cultures.

In those days, as you came in from Cottingham Road, on the left was the red brick block which was the Administration Building and Offices, and across the lawns on the right was another Red brick building and as I recall all our lectures took place there.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

I took a full Classics course (Latin, Greek and Ancient History). The department was relatively small (just five full-time Classicists in my year, though quite a lot more taking Latin+) but a very friendly one and well tutored.  We had our lectures and tutorials either in the main left-hand building (as you enter the campus) or in hutted accommodation just beyond it.  There were bike sheds in between – very convenient after a quick dash down from the hall of residence.

Dr David Bitcliffe – 1961, Classics


Needler Hall, 1952 (taken from the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre)

In my fresher year the main focus of the social life was establishing a firm group of close friends in my Hall of Residence, Thwaite Hall.  Two Geographers, Eleanor and Margaret, two historians, Norma and Marjorie, one Social Scientist, Ruth, and two linguists, Jean and me. They came from Buckingham, Leeds, Denton, March, Halesworth; places I had hardly heard of. In turn I would be asked where Shropshire was and found it best to say it was next to Wales. Apart from the Saturday night ‘hop’ there would be occasional cycling trips to the cinema -the front rider had a front cycle lamp and the tail-ender a rear light. We somehow managed to escape being stopped by the police.

Our group of friends met to play tennis or walk in the truly beautiful and extensive Hall gardens, chat over the formal dining table and always de-brief over a nightly hot drink and toast or biscuits in one of our rooms. There was a single gas ring and a kettle in a small pantry on each corridor and a single telephone for the entire hall. My first room was nearby and I was for ever answering the insistent ringing and then seek the intended recipient. Our group would take over an entire group of bath cubicles in one of the communal bathrooms.

The baths were huge and we took it in turns to start the taps running in six of the baths. We also met in the laundry room. None of us fairly ardent feminists washed men’s shirts and the few shirts seen drying on hangers in this all-female Hall drew disparaging comments from us and our enlightened friends. Rules about visitors and curfew were very strict: on a return visit to Thwaite Hall before it was sold I located the small window through which we used to climb to get back into Hall later than 10pm when the door was locked.

Pat Collings – French, 1963

I had a room in a rather basic redbrick building with only very basic facilities. There were two or three of us in this building. Later on, my room was in a nissen hut. They’d been there quite a while as they had been there during the war to accommodate military personnel. They were like hideous half-tube, long semi-circles stuck in the ground, big enough to accommodate half a dozen people in separate rooms with kitchen and bathroom. I was with a group of guys who got on very well together and became very good pals. Inside, all the outer walls were curved and it was very difficult to stick your posters up. If you had a poster of Audrey Hepburn, for instance, it was very difficult to stick it to a curved ceiling and wall. It wasn’t at all what one would have expected from University accommodation, but once we got used to it, we accepted it.

Meals were served in a larger redbrick building, which was also used for some social activities, so if we had a meeting or talks or entertainment of some sort it took place in the dining room. There were other, older establishments, for halls of residence, but they all seemed somewhat old fashioned and completely different from the circumstances we were in. They were housed more towards town.

There was a daily commute from Cottingham, either by bus or by bike until my bike was stolen from the Gardener’s Arms one lunch time. It was a long trip to the University and even longer into Hull. And our favourite destination in the city was the White Harte Pub.

Erik Thompson – 1955, Law

My first year’s residence was spent at the famous Camp Hall, a collection of ex-army Nissen huts located at Cottingham, where I shared a hut with four other first years. Attitudes were very different from what they apparently are today, and I specifically remember having to take part in a humiliating but ultimately amusing evening where the first years had to put on a cabaret for the second and third years. Later in the year I remember pyjama party evenings and university rag week, during which we “kidnapped” one of the local rugby heroes, and held him to ransom, to raise money for a local charity. Male and female students were strictly separated at that time, and the halls of residence were unisex, but entertainment of the opposite sex was allowed, which made life much more agreeable than it might have been!

My second year was spent in what was then the brand new hall of residence, with all modern conveniences. I had by then become the drummer in the university jazz band, and was the secretary and one of the founding members of the university jazz club. I will always remember inviting Chris Barber and his lady, and later Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine to lunch, during one of their respective visits to Hull.  They were all still in the early days of their fame.

John (Jo) Smith – 1957, English

In 1952 there were only about 750 students in the whole university college. which was therefore totally residential with students living in Cottingham, at Thwaite and Cleminson Halls for women and Camp and Needler Halls for men.  All but Camp Hall were traditional brick built buildings, but Camp, the largest, was very different!

Thwaite Hall was run rather like a girls’ school for young ladies by Miss Dow, the warden, with very strict rules, including having to be back in hall by 10.00pm, unless one had a late pass. Girls on the ground floor sometimes allowed their windows to be used for late entry! One escaping gentleman, name not to be disclosed, broke his leg when jumping from the first floor after guests’ leaving time! Dinner was at a set time with the warden and staff at high table on a raised dias and latecomers were expected to apologise to Miss Dow for being late. The grounds of Thwaite were delightful and included a tennis court which was quite well used by the students.

Camp Hall was a former American army camp and consisted of, I think, 77 Nissen huts, each with 4 or 5 study bedrooms, and 3 brick one story buildings on 3 sides of the static water tank each with 8 very small study bedrooms (for freshers!) and also a few individual brick built rooms near the warden’s bungalow for single male staff. The nissen huts were set in a large figure of eight round a rough track with the common room, dining room and kitchen across the centre, the central areas being grassed. The only telephone for everyone who lived there was situated outside the common room! 

Each hut had a corridor from the front door (useful for a form of indoor cricket) with the rooms leading off and separated by a single width wall of breeze blocks which had no silencing quality whatsoever so that the occupants of the hut could converse while remaining in their rooms.  Outside, at the end of the corridor was the (cold) ablutions’ block.  We were allowed to invite a female guest on Saturday and Sunday only for a set couple of hours in the afternoon, and we could order and collect a tea tray from the kitchen. Privacy in these rooms was totally impossible! There was a drop down barrier at the entrance to Camp Hall next to the warden’s bungalow which he would open in the morning and drop at 10.00pm; we all just walked round it!

The Famous nissen huts – image from Graham Smith

At Camp, freshers were ordered by the other students, which still had a few ex-servicemen, to perform a ‘smoking concert’ in the first term, and a lot of freshers disappeared for the evening! Each study/bedroon in each nissen hut at Camp had a very large and old free standing electric heater which we could turn upside down and do toast on the bottom, but we could not buy butter (or jam) to put on and I remember trying to ‘chat-up’ (Brian Anthony in particular) the girls serving in the local shops to let us have 2oz of butter, which only was successful after rationing had ended in 1954. Until then, we had to hand in our ration books to the hall of residence which provided breakfast and evening meal, with lunch in the refectory on campus. We could give notice and sign out of hall and sign in at the main campus for our evening meal if we wished to remain there. Clothes were also ‘rationed’ by having an allocation of coupons and all items of clothing had a coupon-value.

Camp Hall was replaced by The Lawns sometime after I left. I believe it was at the start of the 1955/56 academic year that the student population reached 1,000 and for the first time senior students had to go into ‘digs’ and I stayed with a lovely elderly couple in Ella Street for the two terms I remained at Hull to study individually for my Bar Finals. 

There were no public restaurants and the only food sold in pubs were crisps and pickled eggs but those pubs in Cottingham did a good trade in beer on Saturday evenings, mainly between between 6.00pm and 8.00pm after sport (particularly rugby). The drinkers would then go to and from the student dance on campus very unsteadily by bicycle and there were quite a few who fell into the roadside ditches! There were, thank goodness, few, if any cars on the road in those days.

We had a lot of fun in Camp Hall, despite, or perhaps because of, the conditions, but it was a very different type of hall of residence! 

Graham Smith – 1955, Law 1955 in collaboration with Ann Smith (formerly Naylor) – 1956, History and Brian Anthony – 1955, History

I was fortunate to be able to stay in Ferens Hall throughout my three undergraduate years – far easier than slumming it out in digs! In the first year I had to share a room “out in the huts” with a fellow student; he, unfortunately, found non-academic pleasures too great and was eventually sent down.  The hall was so convenient – breakfast and evening meal provided; a good common room; billiard table; TV room; and (especially important for me) a grand piano for practice.

Dr David Bitcliffe – 1961, Classics

At that time there were about 1000 students and nearly all were accommodated in halls: Thwaite for the women and Camp for the men. Thwaite was newly built but Camp Hall was converted from an ex-army camp and must have seemed home-from-home to the majority of students who at that time had already done national service. The intent must have been to create a collegiate style: individual rooms, “scouts” looking after daily chores, formal dinners (except weekends). All considering, the accommodation was remarkably comfortable especially when early in the first term the lumpy mattresses were replaced by the newly developed “dunlopillos”. Food rationing was still in place but despite this the catering was very good. They must have thought us war- time kids needed nourishment and provided: cooked breakfast (egg & bacon on Sundays with a later start), lunch and afternoon tea in the newly built refectory on campus, and dinner back at Camp. In case that wasn’t enough we could collect bread and milk to take back to our huts to make toast and cocoa before bed. Diners were formal. Places were not fixed but year groups were and with seniority progressed towards the top table reserved for the warden and guests. French cooking was the tops in those days but where the Camp chef got the butter for his pommes anna I can’t imagine. The evening menu was posted at the entrance to the dining – hall and on one occasion some wag had interpreted his chicken -vol-au- vents as flying farts.

Leslie Mayor – 1954, Chemistry

Societies, Sports, Social Life

As an eighteen-year-old fresher at the University of Hull the array of clubs and Societies offered seemed astounding even in 1959! In the event I joined the Hockey club and played in the second eleven. On Saturday mornings we played at home and away against various clubs across the East Riding; we were competitive but enjoyed the fun of camaraderie probably even more than winning. The match I recall most vividly was in Bridlington where we had travelled by train to play against the Bridlington British Railways Ladies’(sic) Hockey second eleven. It was a wipe-out! We faced an opposition looking distinctly like Sumo wrestlers. We laughed all the way home, pleased to have escaped without major injury!

Pat Collings – French, 1963

By then I had also become a player in the Rugby first fifteen, and most Saturday evenings were spent in a popular pub in downtown Hull, after whish we all repaired to the university weekly dance, where everything was obliged to  halt while we “entertained” the attendants with a somewhat unsteady version of the Whippenpoof Song. How many remember that, I wonder?

John (Jo) Smith – 1957, English

Social events in Camp were few but one bonfire night was memorable with a “dance” in the bar and fireworks being set off from the pigeon-holes for mail and messages. If finances allowed, I spent most Saturday evenings at Ye Olde White Harte, Silver St in the city. The Glee Club consisting mainly of rugby and football club members met there.. Not many memories of those nights remain (even the following day).

Leslie Mayor – 1954, Chemistry

Aerial View, 1953 (taken from the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre)

7 thoughts on “The 1950’s In Your Words: campus life as remembered by alumni

  1. These ‘In Your Words’ articles are fascinating. Really enjoyed reading about life at the University of Hull in the 1950s, and also the earlier piece on the 1960s.


    1. HI Nigel, we’re really glad that you enjoy these articles – we’re planning on following up with features on the 70s, 80s and 90s later on in the year, so do look out for those!


  2. Wonderful history. You may want to check out ebay: it has several photo albums on sale of the University College 1950 to 1952. Thwaite Hall, opening of students union, rag ball, Portakabins on campus etc. reasonable price.
    Interesting to see that the original SU building only had the east refectory and no central bar (the Buttery). The teacher training college next door looks fully built.


  3. Good to hear memories from Pat Collings. I was also French 1963, but only managed a a lowly 2.2. My memories centre mostly on Dram Soc and the Debating Society, and I was the Flaming Angel in Le Jeu D’Adam.
    I was in digs for 2 years, so spent a lot of time in the Library and the Union, often watching Yogi Bear – the cult at the time.
    We met with several others in France during our year teaching between years 2 and 3, and again in Hull to celebrate 40 years later.
    My life after Hull was in University Administration, at Southampton and Aston, and after marriage in Computing. But then my hobby of Silverwork took over, leading to Adult Education and U3A groups, and helping set up The Lightbox, a Museum and Craft Centre in Woking.
    Gill Washington, nee Marvin


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