In October 1968 a group of young lecturers gathered together to form ‘College 6’. At that time Bowland College was complete, Lonsdale College (in the building now known as Bowland North) and County were close to completion, and Cartmel (now County South) was half built. Nothing existed south of Alexandra Square except the Sports Hall of the Sports Centre. 1968 was the year of student revolution all over Europe, we had only just stopped being students ourselves, and we started to envisage College 6 as a commune, a place where the students would have a bit of influence. We were planning to receive the first students in 1970.
Furness buildings were started in 1968 and in February 1969 the project was running at £125,000 under budget. This money had to be spent, so Blocks 3-7 of Fylde were built. A college had to be formed in 12 months. We had to advertise for some 2nd and 3rd year students and the ultra-left of the University took up our offer.
Meanwhile, the name ‘Fylde’ was chosen and, provisionally, the blocks named after places in the area; Pilling, Cleveleys etc. Our new left-wing students did not agree, preferring ‘Lenin’ or ‘Guevara’. So, as a compromise, we gave the blocks numbers. These first five blocks were governed from Furness with a borrowed JCR in Bowland.
Fylde made national headlines for the first time in November 1969. The Queen came to open County College and while she was passing through Alexandra Square our first JCR president crowned his pet toad ‘Archduke Albert of Lancaster’. The tabloid press regarded this as a mortal insult to Her Majesty.
Meanwhile, Fylde grew, acquiring four more blocks in 1970 and a College Building in 1971. The latter was never formally opened because the minister for higher education who was to do the honours was instructed not to come. Fylde students had threatened to demonstrate about the level of grants on that day. The original design of the building only allowed for a 12’sq bar. Plainly too small, it was extended by borrowing money off a local brewery. The bar you now see is the result of a refurbishment in 2010.
A further 5 blocks were added in the 1980s and 90s giving us 470 rooms. These have now all been demolished to make way for the residences that you can see now. Fylde has six new houses with 479 rooms. Coming full circle we have decided to name the new houses after windmills in the Fylde region; Lytham, Pilling, Thornton, Kirkham, Marton and Clifton.
Fylde has had two major influences on the welfare of the University. Firstly, we appointed to the College the first-ever student counsellor in the University. She then went on to found the University counselling services. Secondly, students and staff from Fylde spearheaded the foundation of the Pre-School Centre.
The original plan for a commune never quite worked out but the sense of community in Fylde is enormous.