Student Life in the Sixties - Were You There?


Michael O'Connor and Diane Hurst wedding in 1969 surrounded by Lancaster alumni
Front Row....Brett Hallam, David Brown, Marion Twiddy, Michael O'Connor, Diane Hirst, Chris Brandon Trye, Kate Jennings, Lesley Hodgson. Middle Row.. Clive Barnby, Liz Cobb, Liz Dee, Peter Ward, Allan Huntington, Susan Griffiths, Liz Hamilton. Back Row...Phil Kidd, Peter Dury, Tony Granger, Richard Lumley, Clive Poole.

The lockdown has prompted some of Lancaster's early graduates to reunite via Zoom and to share recollections of university life in the 1960's. So here are the reminiscences of Michael O'Connor(Cwmbran/Bowland), Chris Brandon-Trye (Farnham/Lonsdale), Allan Huntington (Huddersfield/Cartmel), Clive Poole (Croydon/Lonsdale), Tony Granger (Kettering/Lonsdale), and Phil Murray (Blackpool/ Furness). Photo - Michael and Diane's Wedding Day in 1969.

"Arriving in 1966 and away from home for the first time, we were placed in digs in Morecambe - there were no on campus halls of residence or even any completed buildings on the Bailrigg site at that time. Our abiding memories of those early weeks in Morecambe: it was cold and wet, lectures and seminars were in a former congregational church in Lancaster with seating in the old church pews. For a short time the wearing of gowns was compulsory. Memories were nostalgic and maybe even rose-tinted. Were there really parties every weekend? There was certainly much socialising, whether it involved the variety of sports clubs or just drinking in the local pubs and bars. And there were plenty of new experiences; meeting fellow students from different backgrounds and from different areas of the country and varied accents and dialects to get to grips with. Memories, inevitably, of girls won and lost, of the dreaded Morecambe landladies, of being (for some of us) the first occupants of the new halls of residence and the first patrons of the college bars and JCR's. 

Memories of long lasting friendships and experiences are too wonderful to forget. Too little attention to studies, except during that final year when finals loomed. It was said, perhaps apocryphally, that the first and second year intakes(1964 and 1965) were chosen for their organisational and social skills, the third year for their academic prowess. If so, we let the side down as we achieved mainly 2:2 degrees in History/History and Politics/Economics and Philosophy. This was despite the best efforts of tutors, lecturers and professors alike- the names of Blinkhorn, Reynolds, Haymer, Merriman, Carter, Lesley and Woolrych spring to mind.

Those were the halcyon days before student loans. Maintenance grants (means tested) of up to £360 a year were just about enough to survive on and there were no tuition fees to worry about. Some of us even managed to run cars- Morris Minor, Hillman Minx and Mini vans. How lucky we were!

Rents in digs varied- one memory is of £1/10/-(£1-50) a week to include one bath and 2/-(10p)for a second. Beer (no lager then) was about 2/- for a pint of Mitchells, Thwaites, Watneys or Youngers. Accommodation in Morecambe was in Westminster, Clarendon and Alexander Road. The favoured drinking holes were The Battery, Davy Jones's Locker, The Seahorse Bar at the Midland Hotel and the Broadway. Further afield we would frequent The Shakespeare (conveniently next to the Congregational Church in Lancaster), The Stork and the Redwell Inn. Food options were limited in comparison to the standards of today- Chinese, Italian and the (in) famous Cleveland Grill challenge priced 19/6d, nearly £1. It took a special kind of person to eat it all! Sporting activities varied: some strenuous- football, rugby, cross country, hockey, rowing and basketball- and some less so-darts, snooker, table football and pinball. The soundtrack of our lives came from the North Sea courtesy of the pirate radio station Radio Caroline. The reception was terrible; definitely more crackle than pop!

Most of us were elected to the Social Committee in the second year and we organised various events- Freshers, Michaelmas and Graduation Balls, which were held in Morecambe at the Winter Gardens or in Lonsdale courtyard (covered for the occasion) whilst lesser events took place in the various college locations. Amongst the acts to entertain us (most now forgotten) were Georgie Fame, Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money, Barclay James Harvest, Geno Washington, Julie Driscoll, Family, Skip Bifferty, Jimmy James, Lucas and the Mike Cotton Sound, and the Idle Race (with a young Jeff Lynne of ELO fame). We could have booked Jimi Hendrix for £40- an opportunity missed. For us the finale was the Graduation Ceremony in 1969, where degrees were conferred by Princess Alexandra.

And now to 2020. What became of those fellow students whose names have cropped up in our musings? We have contacted Dave Brown, Keith Hayward and Mike Mcinerney. But what about Tony Bidgood, Phil Kidd, Brett Hallam, Peter Dury, Liz Dee, Liz Hamilton, Liz Cobb, Richard Lumley, Lesley Hodgson, Marion Twiddy, Peter Ward, Lorna Bird, Frances Langridge or Monica Russell?

We would love to hear from you or anyone else who remembers us."

If you would like to get in touch you can contact Michael at butteoconnor@hotmail.co.uk.

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