University of Surrey 1970's photographs  
  Increasing numbers of people have been stumbling across this web site. Many from other countries and other decades. So I will attempt to answer some of the frequently asked questions.
All answers are in the form of sweeping generalisations, based on 1973 information.
 
 
1: What is this "University of Surrey" (UoS)? (now re-named UniS)

Well it was and still is a University in the UK. About thirty miles south west of London, it's in a very "nice" area and it was only a short walk into the market town of Guildford. (No it's still not a city)
You went there at age 18 and after three or four years they gave you a degree. Mostly this was in a science or engineering. Rated in the top twenty of British universities, getting there was considered a good result.
Having only been built at the end of the 1960's, it was a nice, new, shiny campus university. There were only about 2500 students and nearly 2000 of those lived on site, with ten payphones, three bars, 52 fondue sets and five TV's.
Thinking about it, that's only the population of a large village. Which meant that walking about the place, you recognised everybody.
 
 
Beside the Pilgrims Way
There is a hill above a market town.
On that hill, a place of learning.
In that place are many courts.
In those courts are many people.
Of those people, many snaps.
Many snaps, many people.
Many people find those snaps.
Snaps of people,
on a hill,
above a town,
beside the Pilgrims Way.
www.uossnaps.co.uk
winnie
 
 
Mole House, Surrey Court, Taken in 1999 Pets corner

2: The Halls of Residence

There were four residence courts on site. These were mostly divided into about ten houses, each of these had four floors, each of which had fourteen single rooms. A room being a small box, not quite big enough to open the door, if you were not in bed.
The newer the residence block, the smaller the rooms were and similarly the beds. But as the Vice-Chancellor said in his welcoming speech, the beds were not really designed for more than two people. (See note 1)
You were allocated a room at random.
The floors were single sex, with the girls always on the top floors. Because this could result in a girl having a 150ft climb from a lecture to her room, they tended to develop mighty leg muscles and large lungs.
Each floor had a KUB (Kitchen something whatever), which was a large room, for being in.
The intention, was that you ate in the resturants, but some how we managed to prepare meals for everybody, with one Baby Belling, two rings and a fridge.

This is the difficult bit to explain, but it's what made this time and place unique. The rules were:
1) Keep the noise down after 11pm on Sunday through Thursday.
2) There is a £15 deposit.
Beyond that, you're adults, sort it out yourselves.

One major difference between now and then, is the locking of doors.
You would always lock the door to your room. If you didn't, some jolly prankster would soon be at work. All other doors into floors and buildings would be left open. And there was no CCTV.


2b: 3rd Court (a.k.a. Stag Hill Court)

I think that the numbered courts (3rd, 4th and 5th) were re-branded in 1976. However there was some resistance to this, in 3rd Court. 'Diddy Town' has it's own special charm and just giving it a number seemed right. It consists of 44 individual houses, each of which houses 10 students.
Generally this setup lead to a family feeling in each house, especially with the duplexes. Downstairs there are six single bedrooms, in groups of two, with three bathrooms. Upstairs there is a large kitchen / lounge and two split level double rooms (duplexes). There was plenty of room for huge parties.
In the 70's, all of the houses were single sex.
Very often both people in a duplex (or even both duplexes) had the same first name. Presumably this was the wardens idea of a joke.

Pages featuring Stag Hill Court

 
 
3: Navigation

Due to the University being built on a steep hill, the numbering of floors presented a problem. If you crossed a level bridge between two buildings, you could easily be on the second floor in one and the fourth in the other.
So there was a cunning scheme. About half the floors were numbered in tens of feet above sea level and the rest where not. Doughnut (c)1973
For example: 9AC21 would be room 9, block C in row A, on a floor 210 feet above sea level. Simple.
However because of the huge space taken up by ICL1900 series computers, the Old Library had no floor 22 and conversely, as humanities students tended to be smaller than engineers, they managed to squeeze in an extra level (181/2) in to block AA.

In the halls of residence the floors were sometimes numbered, or not, starting with zero or one.
Senate House had floors numbered 'B' to '8', three of which could be entered at ground level.
The Students Union was deliberately built in a way that defied mapping.

Freshers had a tendency to be lost.
 
 

4: Grants

Student grants used to be a system for the re-distribution of wealth, that allowed students who came from areas well away from London, to have a good laugh.
It worked like this:
It's me At the start of each term you were given a cheque by the local government, in the area where you lived. This is what you lived on for the next ten weeks and represented just enough money.
However it was means tested and was reduced as your parents income went up. So for example, in the far South West of England, where 2p would still buy a pound of wurzels, nobody earned much and we all got full grants. If your parents were both professionals, leading a somewhat over-stretched life style in North London, you only got a minimum grant.
Ha Ha.

It was living on a tight budget, but it could be done without getting into debt. You ate plenty of whatever was cheap, paid the rent, had a ticket home, bought a few books and there was just enough left over for the simple pleasures of life.
These were innocent times.

You were supplied with a breakdown of how you were expected to spend your grant. Unfortunately I don't still have a copy.

 
 
5: Food and Drink (Pilchard Risotto or Sprout & Chicken Curry?)

Have you ever been in a bar, when somebody appears from nowhere, jumps a queue of five and is served? That person went to the University of Surrey.
The students union had two under sized bars:
The Upper Bar - Far too small. It took serious dedication to get served more than a dozen times in one evening.
The Lower Bar - All tiled, but with no sharp edges. The walls and tables curved on to the floor, which then sloped gently to a central drain. It was designed with the rugby club in mind.
So that was it, we hardly touched a drop. (See note 3)
I think they are cooking
I know that in my first year I mostly ate in the campus restaurants. However most memories of this seem to be suppressed.
In the second year the new students union opened, along with Hari's catering. This was big improvement, in that food and beer were available at the same location. It also had three full size snooker tables and one of the very first "Ping Pong" computer games.
The third year will be explained elsewhere.
The forth year saw the onset of domesticity.

As for Pilchard Risotto or Sprout & Chicken Curry. These classic dishes were invented by Vivien Ehmler and Lawrence Jaques on the last day of Spring Term 1975, in Mole 3 KUB. With only the train fare home and four people to feed, this was the best that anybody could find (we didn't actually have any chicken). However we did have a bottle of Mr Jaques home made rice wine, half a bottle of Gales "Black Beer & Raisin" and some cloudy looking stuff. (See note 2)

Eating out:
There was "The Kings Shade" in Tunsgate Square. This restaurant exists in it's own little bubble of time. The menu, staff and decor, have not changed or aged in the last 27 years. I had lunch in there only last week.
"The Jolly Farmer", overlooking the river. Very nasty beer, but they did a nice bacon and peanut butter jacket potato.
"The Seahorse", top beer, solid food.
"The Swiss Restaurant", strictly a place to be taken to by visiting parents.
"Hudins" Indian restaurant. Upstairs over a shop in North Street. Second best in Guildford and would open at 2am for a large party.
"The Bamboo Garden" The local Chinese take away and traditional food source for the OFU committee on a Sunday night.
 
 
6a: Entertainment

On the whole campus there were only five television sets, but they were colour. Anyway there wasn't much worth watching, apart from Monty Python and Star Trek.
Huge amounts of time seem to have been spent in the students union, KUB's, the coffee bar and peoples rooms, just talking. I have no idea about what, but it was very important at the time.
The most popular KUB's were on girls floors, as there tended to be fewer rotting rugby socks on the radiators and a better chance of getting feed.

Cheryll & Jane7: Entertainment (Part 2, Let's Party)

There were plenty of parties and unfortunately, despite the alcohol, I do remember what I did. The plus side of this, is that I also remember what everybody else did. Yes, I remember what YOU did.
I've started a page featuring some of the classic parties. However photographing parties isn't easy, so there aren't many.
One of the great innovations of 1973, was Cheryll Howells. She really could organise a tremendous party.
 
 
8: Security

Did Security ever do anything apart from clamp cars?
Did they ever have a finest hour?
Did they ever rush across campus, to save some helpless maiden from a dastardly villain?

This needs a whole page of its own: Security
 
 
I look forward to the day when I understand girls

9: Girls & Crumpet

Here's another of lifes little mysteries. I've always understood that the male / female ratio on campus, was about 2:1 (largely due to the type of courses).
However at any sort of social event, there always seemed to be about equal numbers. If anybody has an explanation for this, please let me know.

 
 
10: I want to be ELECTED

Only the President of the students union was a sabbatical post and once a year we had to vote for one. The candidates were always :
A liberal (with a small 'L'), a socialist worker, a truck driver, a Trotskyist, an animal and a cartoon character.
What happened was that the liberal would be elected. Where upon SocSoc would call an emergency EGM to complain that there was some minor constitutional infringement, for example Orlando the cat wasn't a member of the NUS. The socialists would come mob handed to the meeting and vote for a re-election. This would piss everybody off and the liberal would get elected in again.
They used a transfer voting system, that resulted in the least unpopular person winning. (The turnout was usually about 60%.)

Later years featured "Lio" (almost a Lion) and "Eric the half-a-bee". However unlike Orlando, they were withdrawn before the vote, to avoid the above problem.
 
 
11: The Third Year

Three Bays at Behive Lane, Marconi Chelmsford This was an interesting concept. Almost all the courses were in a 'sandwich' format.
This entailed spending years one, two and four at the university. The third year was spent doing work based training, in the sort of job you would be doing after finishing your final year.
I went to work for Marconi in Chelmsford and quickly realised by how little I knew, that was of any practical use. But at least there were no exams at the end of the year.

I did a very interesting 20 week course in drawing, metal bashing, assembly and test engineering. This was followed by 31 weeks in mobile radio design, working on one of the most uninteresting projects I have ever seen.
The photo was taken across my desk at Three Bays (part of Beehive Lane).

Boring. However British Rail was doing a silly cheap offer on train tickets and I went back to UoS every weekend. Also thanks to the three day week, (brought on by the power workers strike,) I finished on Thursday lunch time, so was on time to print Bare Facts and appologise to Frances.
 
 
12: "Point of Order" - The GM (General Meeting)

"Point of Order", the cry of the greater constitution Anorak.

Every Tuesday lunch time, there was a forum for sophisticated debate, held in lecture theatre D. Normally about two hundred people turned up and debated various proposals affecting the students union.
Occasionally some pressure group would turn up mob handed and push through a motion. There would then have to be an EGM to reverse it.
These events were recorded in "This House" (an article in Bare Facts).
 
 
13: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Work in progress.
 
 
14: The Open University

Some people have suggested that the UoS experience was a bit like spending 100 weeks on a Club 18-30 holiday. Actually there was a fair bit of serious stuff to be done as well, so maybe it was more like 100 weekends.
However the behavior of the under-graduates was mild when compared with the post-graduates, who only had 11 odd months to squeeze in the entire gamut of the UoS experience.
For scenes of debauchery not seen since the end of the Roman Empire, you had to look to the Open University types. They came for courses during the holidays and tried to get it all done in two weeks.
 
 

To be continued and updated, but never corrected

Notes:
1: Although the beds were very small, the record for the largest number of people asleep in one, was six. I remember that it was on Blackwater 3 in 1973 and Oz was involved. There was an enquiry, as the previous record holder claimed that unconscious is not the same a asleep, but the record stands. Back.
2: Respect is due to Mr Jaques' home made wines. The mead was particularly good and not too sweet. However the rice wine remained barely touched for three years and in the end was sold off as nail varnish remover. Back
3: In the UK everybody at the university would be old enough for there to be no restriction on the purchase and consumption of alcohol. Back

 

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