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.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

From Alison and Martin, Special Collections, University of Bradford

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We had fun choosing sturdy green and red books for our Christmas book-tree.  The Reading Room looks very festive!  Please note that the Special Collections service is closed for the Christmas holidays from 24 December 2015-3 January 2016 inclusive.  We hope this won’t cause any inconvenience to our readers.

2016 will be an exciting and busy year: we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the University of Bradford.  You can find out more and see some lovely images from our archives on the anniversary webpage.

 

Goodbye Emma (and thank you!)

On 5 November Special Collections and our Library colleagues said farewell to our Project Archivist, Emma Burgham.  Here we are eating cake (Emma is second from the right).

Emma's leaving do, Nov.20151 re

Emma’s leaving do, 5 November 2015

Emma joined us in July 2014 for the Mitrinovic/New Atlantis Archive cataloguing project.  This large archive was created by the philosopher Dmitrije Mitrinovic and his circle and greatly enhances knowledge of inter-war society, politics, culture and ideas.  As an experienced archivist, Emma has been able to make sense of this complex collection and create a catalogue which will make it useful to researchers worldwide.  Here’s one of our favourite images from the collection, a postcard showing Dubrovnik in the 1920s.

NAF 6-5-3, Postcard of Dubrovnik, c1920s, 1

NAF 6-5-3, Postcard of Dubrovnik, c1920s

Emma also organised a wonderful Symposium to share news of discoveries in the archive, and has worked closely with students and other volunteers on transcribing letters and cleaning documents.  We are very grateful to Emma for all her hard work and wish her all the best for future.   You can find out more about the archive and Emma’s work on the project webpage and the Eleventh Hour blog.

NAF 3-2-3-2, Eleventh Hour flyer

NAF 3-2-3-2, Eleventh Hour flyer

Celebrating 50 Years of Bradford Uni

In 2016 the University of Bradford will celebrate its 50th anniversary.    We are delighted to announce the University’s new website for the anniversary, which features some wonderful then-and-now pictures, a fascinating timeline, and allows our alumni to share their own Bradford stories.

UniB10 September 1964. View from top of Richmond Road, with Great Hall in foreground. Surrounding wall still under construction. Cars and vans at roadside.

View from Richmond Road, September 1964

Our local newspaper, the Telegraph and Argus, published an in-depth feature today, including lots of pictures of the archives and thoughts from me on the University’s history.

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“People before Things”: remembering Bill Mitchell (1928-2015)

Sad news: Bill Mitchell, journalist, historian and University of Bradford honorary graduate, died yesterday, aged 87.

wrp7 W R MitchellBill needs no introduction to anyone with an interest in the Yorkshire Dales: the first editor of the Dalesman Magazine and a prolific contributor to other journals, he wrote hundreds of books and articles about Dales people, landscape and wildlife.  Throughout his career he applied and often quoted the principle “People before things”, said to him by Dalesman founder Harry Scott in 1948.

Bill was a lovely person, with an incredible fund of engaging anecdotes and lively stories.  He will be much missed.

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Find out more about Bill’s life, works and archives:

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The Inspector’s Russian Journey

Seventy years ago, in September 1945, a great English play had its world premiere.  J.B. Priestley and his wife Jane travelled to the USSR to see An Inspector Calls staged in Leningrad and Moscow.  Since its rapturous Russian reception, and a rather cooler (“almost hostile”) one in London the following year, the play has been seen, enjoyed, and studied by thousands worldwide.

Priestley, JB Russian journey

Front cover of Russian Journey, a pamphlet by J.B. Priestley

It uses the device of a mysterious inspector to explore how each member of a prosperous family contributed to the fate of a young girl who has killed herself.  Inspector combines Priestley’s fascination with the nature of time and reality with a powerful moral message.   While many aspects of the play are ambiguous and open to interpretation, its message could not be clearer – and remains highly relevant: “We don’t live alone.  We are members of one body.  We are responsible for each other.  And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish”.

So why the USSR?  No theatre was available in London, and Priestley’s work was popular in the country.  He was at the peak of his fame, so it would be something of a coup to host his new play.  Not to mention that Inspector would be seen favourably, as it can be interpreted as an expose of capitalism.

PRI21_8_30. Russian Album. Priestley and Jane greeted at Moscow aerodrome, 1945

Priestley and Jane greeted at Moscow aerodrome, 1945 (PRI 21/8/30)

Visiting Britain’s ally so soon after the end of the Second World War was an extraordinary experience for the Priestleys; fortunately both wrote about it.  They found a warm welcome and wonderful cultural life, but also extreme poverty, repression, and squalor.  This weekend’s Guardian Review featured a lively account of their Russian Journey, written by Valerie Grove and based on the vivid letters Jane wrote to her children.  You can find out more about the fascinating poster and photograph album featured in the article (and shown here) in our 100 Objects exhibition.

PRI21_8_30. Russian Album. Priestley's birthday with members of the Kamerny Theatre, 1945

Priestley’s birthday with members of the Kamerny Theatre, 1945 (PRI 21/8/30)

If this has tantalised you, you can see two interpretations of Inspector in the next few months:

  • A new tour of the 1992 production by Stephen Daldry, which led to a great revival in the popularity of the play.  Touring from 5 September 2015.
  • A new BBC Drama, filmed in Saltaire and featuring David Thewlis as the Inspector, will be broadcast on Sunday 13 September 2015.  A DVD will be available from the 21 September.

If you don’t know the play, now is the time to catch up and see what all the fuss is about!

Credits: quotations from An Inspector Calls and Margin Released.