Image : Lancaster 50th Anniversary

Remember When

Here are some of the people and events that have made the University what it is today.

Send your memories and anecdotes (max 300 words plus a high resolution photograph) to

We’ll include as many as we can.

David Pierce - A Writer's Memoir

David Pierce (English & Religious Studies, Lonsdale, 1970) recalls his undergraduate days at Lancaster. The extract is taken from his recent memoir, 'The Long Apprenticeship: A Writer's Memoir'(Troubador, 2012.) David went on to write eleven books including three about W.B.Yeats and three about James Joyce.

Autumn 1967, my teenage years over, I arrived at the shining city on the hill, otherwise known as the University of Lancaster. That summer the first cohort of students had graduated. Newness was in the air. It was so new that there were still no halls of residence, and most students lived in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Morecambe and commuted into Bailrigg by special double-decker buses. We were welcomed at St Leonardgate in the city of Lancaster, which was the first home of the university, by the French Professor, Tom Lawrenson. After furnishing us with a potted history of universities in Europe, starting with Bologna, he ended: ‘Spend your three years with us wisely and please remember there are some of us who will be here long after you’ve gone, so give some attention to the community that will survive you.’ That seemed to be a jibe about the new generation of students who might take it upon themselves to wreck the place. As I came away from that opening session I wasn’t sure if I had received a welcome or a warning-shot. I do recall that it was a common belief at the time that the new universities were deliberately sited a couple of miles outside of town in case there was trouble.

My contemporaries enjoyed reading the tabloid newspapers in the Junior Common Room, recoiled from anything which might suggest solidarity with causes, whether working-class or otherwise, and went home for weekends. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair, for, as I should be the first to recognise, being a student generates its own set of problems. It’s a time when people are not at their most, but in my experience often at their least, radical. There’s too much at stake in your early twenties. Lecturers have the freedom to give vent to their unease with the world but students have essays to hand in, financial worries, emotional worries, worries about their identity, troubles with landlords and with friends and associates. They also have a career in front of them, and that too in the late sixties was troubling, for my generation were among the first to realise that there were more of them as future graduates than there were interesting jobs to go round.

It would be wrong, however, not to recognise that the world at that time was undergoing profound changes, some of which could not be defined in straightforward political terms whether in the number of sit-ins or taking to the streets in protest. Even if it was not always visible, new territory was in the process of being mapped out. What seemed to come through all those years was the need for a different way of doing things. It wasn’t yet the age of entitlement, but in some respects that made it all the more radical, for the exercise of power was draining away from those in authority and toward those who increasingly felt the need to be empowered. Any political party which secretly or brazenly identified with the slogan ‘What we have we hold’ must have been sweating.

For more memories of Lancaster, see David's author's page on Amazon



Going Underground at Bailrigg and Beyond

Tony Coghlan (Economics and Politics, 1972, Furness) shares his memories of student life 'down under' and his photo evidence to prove that he really was here in 1970!

I first arrived to find Furness College had just ceased to be a building site – the paint was still drying! However, I was impressed to find that Lancaster had more bars per head than any other University at the time. We didn’t really do much work – finding causes to go on strike for had much more attraction, whether that was about the rents, the Vietnam war or suspended lecturers! 

Much of my time was spent pot-holing in the Yorkshire Dales, and in Spain in the long vacations – we even mapped out 'Bailrigg Underground' (the underground heating ducts) once to come up into Barclays Bank (by mistake I should add!). Then there was 16 Dallas Road – a den of iniquity that became the centre of the caving universe – I think we were also the first students to ever take a landlord to the Rent Tribunal - I recall the booming shouts of 'you nest of vipers' from the landlord when he found out!

Great time had, very little work done and very fond memories.  I don’t think they ever found out who abseiled down the Bowland Tower!

Visit this link for Tony's selection of photos (both overground and underground) and email if you have similar website links and student memories.

Photo shows Tony and Alan Proctor (English, 1971, Lonsdale) in an underground passage somewhere beneath campus!

Sixty Seconds of Lancaster Memories with Paul Simons

After completing an MA in Marketing in 1970, Paul Simons joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management. At 28 he switched to the advertising industry and in the 90s founded Simons Palmer, finally moving to become CEO of Ogilvy and Mather, one of the largest advertising companies in the world. He has, however, fond memories of his first taste of marketing at Lancaster.

Why did you choose Lancaster?

A long story. I passed on university at 18 because I was in a band and wanted to carry on as we were recording for EMI at the famous Abbey Road studios. (You Tube, The Chances Are, Fragile Child – one of our modest releases!) I did enrol at a local college and kept my hand in with education, albeit at a middling level. One night in Birmingham we had been support for Ike and Tina Turner and after that show was over we all went to the Town Hall where Eric Clapton was playing, along with numerous other names of the time. After watching ‘Slowhand’ for an hour I decided it was time for me to change direction, abandon rock star ambitions and get stuck in to academia. I was 19 or 20 when this happened and I then had to plan a route to an exceptional outcome from education, and I was running out of time.

Lancaster was high on the list and it was then a question of getting accepted. It had a great reputation for the post grad business school back then so I made it my mission to get on to the course. How is another long story!

What are your strongest memories of the university?

Prior to the post grad course at Lancaster I had found the majority of academic work not too demanding. It was a shock when I started the MA course as it was intensive and to a standard I had never experienced before.  

I was surrounded by some very bright people. I found the calibre of the teaching and my fellow students quite daunting and it made me raise my game from cruising to working long hours to stay with the flow and not get left behind,

I have very fond memories of being at Lancaster and it changed my life.

How has Lancaster affected your career?

It made a significant difference immediately. I was offered several jobs with 1st division organisations and eventually joined Cadbury-Schweppes in marketing. Due to the MA I bypassed the grad training scheme and was taken on in a management role. Although I was a year or so older then the graduates joining the same time as me I gained two years instantly.

The training derived from the course has given me an edge over the years. Due to the intensity of the course, very demanding and in my case pushed me to my limits and found new ones, I have enjoyed a growing history of solving business problems others have failed to solve. I guess the simple point is the Lancaster experience for me gave me an attitude of ‘anything is possible’.