Article from 30th Jan. 2003


Ernest Littauer - THE BATTERSEA DAYS 1954-61

Ernest Littauer (with friend)

Being a student in the London University system was perhaps unlike most universities because we did not have a single campus. The University comprised over 20 colleges located all over London and we tended to have friendships and collaborations with many of them. London is a splendid city for students. In addition to the cultural and social offerings we had numerous unique libraries which were essential for our research as graduate students.

Our social life was varied and abundant. In the 50’s and 60’s, dixieland jazz was very popular and there were a number of clubs which featured the best groups every night. I remember two; Humphrey Littletons club on Oxford Street, Cy Laurie’s in Soho, which frequently had all night sessions. Also, many of the colleges including Battersea featured jazz dances on the weekends. The University of London Union (ULU) organised two or three major balls each year. The March Hare at the Royal Festival Hall and the Presidents Ball at the Senate House. These were black tie affairs and very popular. I was chairman of the ULU entertainment committee which had representatives from across the University. I recall one March Hare’s Ball which was attended by the Chancellor, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She danced with me and many others and expressed her love of dancing, especially with the young men in “her” University as she put it. In retrospect, as I think back, she was in her late 50’s in those days.

Ernest Littaur - 2002

At Battersea we were blessed at the time with one of the most polyglot populations of students. They came from Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan, China, The Caribbean, Australasia, Poland, Hungary and the Middle East. Annually we put on an International Festival where we entertained and were entertained with music, songs and dances representative of their unique cultures. I recall one year where we, the British students, tried to come up with an act typical of the UK. We selected some numbers from My Fair Lady which was showing in the West End at that time. It was a great success. After the entertainment we had refreshments followed by dancing. Students attended from all over London. Alcoholic beverages were not available at college till later years but, right across the street on Battersea Park Road there was a fine pub.

Today, I suppose these experiences may sound tame but back then Battersea was considered on the vanguard high jinks!


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