The Time Capsule is Open!

12 April 1991. As part of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the University of Bradford, a time capsule was sealed into the foyer of Richmond Building.  University staff had been asked to suggest “sensible but imaginative objects” (the winners received bottles of sparkling wine) which were put into the capsule before it was locked by Vice Chancellor David Johns and Chair of Council Roger Suddards.

12 April 2016. As part of the celebrations of the University’s 50th anniversary, the time capsule was opened at a special event for staff and students.  Watch the event, including a “show and tell” by Alison Cullingford the Special Collections Librarian (me!), on this Youtube video:

We were delighted that Professor Peter Excell was able to attend: his talk covered his choice of object (the super-conductor) and his memories of 1991.   A large and lively crowd clearly enjoyed finding out more about the objects and the story of the University: thanks to all involved in organising or participating: it was fun!

You can see photographs of the objects on the Time Capsule’s webpage. The media then (and now) were most interested in those representing University Chancellors.  Our Chancellor at the time, industrialist and TV personality Sir John Harvey-Jones, contributed this huge tie: he often wore such a tie when he visited the University.  Sir Harold Wilson, the first Chancellor (1966-1986), was by then too frail to attend, but sent one of his iconic pipes.  It still has the faintest trace of tobacco.

Other favourites included:

  • Menu from the University refectory, featuring a sponge pudding for 30p;
  • Calculator – which still worked when we switched it on.  Impressive!
  • Score of Jubilate, a piece written by the then Fellow in Music Graham Coatman and performed as part of the celebrations;
  • Disposable surgical retractor, developed by David Sharpe of the Burns Research Unit.  This innovative design was awarded the Prince of Wales award for best invention in 1988;
  • and lots lots more (the capsule was as full as it could be.  Clearly staff then, as now, were inspired by the capsule idea).

The objects are now part of the University Archive in Special Collections; everyone is welcome to arrange a visit to see them.  Colleagues at the University, please contact me (Alison)  if you would like a mini-opening in your own department.

 

Opening the Time Capsule

In 1991 the University of Bradford celebrated its 25th anniversary.  As part of the celebrations a time capsule was locked away in one of our buildings.  For the 50th anniversary, we are going to open the box!

Staff and students of the University are welcome to come along to enjoy this unique event and see what their 90s counterparts thought we might find interesting.  Tuesday 12 April 2016, 1.30 till 2.30 in Richmond Atrium.

I don’t seem to have an image showing the locking of the capsule, so I thought you might like this prospectus which has a very 1991 flavour to it.

Mathematics and statistics undergraduate courses and research prospectus 1991

Mathematics and statistics undergraduate courses and research prospectus 1991

What do you think might be in the capsule?  And what would you put in a 2016 version?

3 February 1966. Bradford’s starter for ten??

Starter question.  What famous jazz musician had the Christian names Ferdinand Joseph de la Menthe?

If you were concerned with Hooke’s Law, would you be more likely to be a student of church history, a statistician, a manufacturer of braces, or a pirate?

From Shakespeare, which character said (and in which play)? “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad”.

Can you guess which quiz show sent these specimen questions to Bradford students?  No conferring!

Yes, it could only be University Challenge, the famously fast-moving and difficult quiz for teams of students, first broadcast in 1962.

UNI X0414. Javelin, 3 Feb.1966. B.I.T. and University Challenge

In 1966, Students’ Union official Roger Iles contacted the programme’s producer, Douglas Terry, and its maker, Granada Television, to ask whether Bradford Institute of Technology (BIT) would be able to take part in the programme.  BIT was after all just about to become a “University”.  His enquiry was welcomed and Bradford was invited to put together a team for the autumn series.  BIT was thus the first College of Advanced Technology turned University to be recognised in this way.

The 3 February 1966 issue of Javelin shared the good news and the call for entries.  The  specimen questions were included to help students decide if they were up to the standard of the competition.  Answers at the bottom of this article  (No googling!).

It took a few years, but Bradford University did eventually become University Challenge Champions.

Other stories from the 3 February issue:

Telly Tales

Five students living in Revis Barber Hall of Residence had jointly hired a television set which was “capable” of receiving a hazy BBC-2: a slightly more “highbrow” channel than the existing BBC and ITV programmes, and with a remit including arts, culture and education.  Assuming the set could in practice receive the channel, the students would have been able to watch Playschool, Horizon, and (the following year) the unmissable Forsyte Saga.

Toilet Wars

Students were asked to stop stealing glasses from the Union Bar and were rebuked for using “vulgar language” in the “conveniences” on Richmond D Floor.  This had upset a member of staff and meant students were banned from the only toilets on the same floor as the Bar – inconvenient!

Ad of the Week

Excel Bowling (Canterbury Avenue).  Ten-pin bowling had become really popular in Britain during the 1960s.  Excel was a large chain of bowling alleys.

UNI X0414. Javelin, 3 Feb.1966. Excel Bowl, Bradford. Bowling advertisement

Your answers:

  • Jelly Roll Morton
  • A manufacturer of braces (i.e. interested in the properties of elastic).
  • Antonio, in the Merchant of Venice.

J.B. Priestley’s Lost City

This Sunday, 31 January 2016, a rare chance to see J.B. Priestley’s Lost City, thanks to the National Media Museum and the J.B. Priestley Society.  Lost City is a 1958 BBC documentary.  It shows the Bradford-born author revisiting his boyhood haunts, many of which were soon to be lost in the 1960s remodelling of the city.  If you’ve never seen the legendary Swan Arcade, Priestley’s teenage workplace, this film is a must!

An afternoon with J.B. Priestley also includes other Priestley rarities, plus an interview with Mavis Dean, who accompanied Priestley in the film.

PRI21_11_8Low Res

 

A piece in our 100 Objects exhibition ponders Lost City as an intriguing glimpse of old Bradford and its insights into Priestley’s complex relationship with his home city:

No 55. Whatever happened to Mr Mothergill: J.B. Priestley’s Lost City.

20 January 1966. Silver Blades and Heart Beat

My favourite story from the 20 January 1966 issue of Javelin is the opening of two beloved Bradford landmarks, the Silver Blades Ice Rink and the Heart Beat discotheque above it.

Heart beat discotheque, Javelin, 20 Jan.1966., p.5

Located in Wardley House on Little Horton Lane, these were handily near the University (as we will see, the University would soon have a presence in the same building).

Silver Blades was rather special when opened:

“… reputed to be “The finest rink in the world”, with coloured lighting in the barriers, sparkling chandeliers over the ice, and a plush bar and restaurant. The resplendently dressed skaters were entertained with organ music. The opening gala at the rink had performances by British skaters who had just returned from the World Championships. They included Sally Anne Stapleford, John Curry and ice dancers Bernard Ford and Diane Towler.” (from the History of Bradford Ice Arena).

But ice rinks are expensive to run!  In the 1970s and 1980s recession and cuts to maintenance meant it became run down, and its owners Mecca Leisure decided to close it in 1991.  The rink was saved thanks to a new company put together by local campaigner Krystyna Rogers.  It is lovely to note that it is still going strong.  Now known as Bradford Ice Arena, the rink is celebrating 50 years of bringing fun and exercise to the people of Bradford.

And the Heart Beat?  It seems to have become  Annabella’s at some point during the 1970s.  I’ll share more info when I come across it.  And of course, memories and images can easily be found on Facebook and other sites – see All About Bradford for instance.

1966, a Year that made a University. 20 January: Nearly There?

In January 1966 it looked as though Bradford might be at the point of achieving a century-old dream: its own University.  Or was it?

First page of Bradford Institute of Technology's Petition, July 1965 (Uni C04)

First page of Bradford Institute of Technology’s Petition, July 1965 (Uni C04)

1868-1963 The fight for a University

As early as 1868, local Member of Parliament W.E. Forster was clear that “if industrial universities were to be established in large centres of manufacturing, Bradford would do its best to become one of those centres”.  Such universities were indeed established: Leeds, Sheffield etc. acquired universities in the”red-brick” boom of the 1890s and 1900s.  Lack of local support and political influence meant Bradford missed out.

Scheme after scheme for university status foundered over the next century.  At last, in 1957, Bradford became Bradford Institute of Technology, one of eight Colleges of Advanced Technology, concentrating on university-level teaching and research.  But the CATS lacked the independence, kudos, and funding available to”universities”.

This unfairness was particularly noticeable during the early 1960s, as so many new universities were springing up.  These, as Robert McKinlay remarked in his histories of the University, achieved university status with all its benefits while often consisting of only a “Vice-Chancellor and a watchman’s hut”.  The CATs, with years of high-level work, buildings, staff and students, were still at a disadvantage.

1963-1966.  Hope for Bradford?

To put right this anomaly, Lord Robbins in his 1963 report recommended that the CATs be granted Royal Charters to become technological universities.  It’s easy to assume that this meant the Institute’s move to university status was inevitable.

Javelin, 20 Jan.1966. Charter rotated

However, the lead article in the 20 January 1966 edition of Javelin suggests some students at least were not so sure.  Was there “hope for Bradford”?

  •   An article in the Guardian had implied that Bradford would be a university by the following year: this seemed hopeful, as “surely such a reputable newspaper would not have raised our hopes by printing an untruth”.
  • Aston University, another CAT on the same journey, was “nearly there”, having had their charter accepted by the Privy Council.  Encouraging news!
  • Vice-Principal Robert McKinlay had recently stated that a recent conference was probably the last to be held at BIT. “Does this indicate official optimism, or are we to assume there are to be no further conferences …?”

Of course it is possible that uncertainty about university status was being exaggerated for effect.  Javelin reporters tended to be sarcastic and cynical!   Either way, the signs were correct: Bradford would indeed become a University before the year was out.

Part II to follow: what else was happening around the Institute and the City in January 1966?

£875 a year! And other Bradford Stories

In 1966, Dr John Horton joined the staff at Bradford University library on a salary of £875 a year.  He stayed at the Uni for the rest of his working life, eventually becoming University Librarian.  John shares his memories of our first Vice-Chancellor, Ted Edwards, and our first Chancellor, Sir Harold Wilson, in the first of a series of videos created by staff and students to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary.