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.

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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