“I am not sure that I am qualified to understand what students mean when they say that Lancaster is a dull place….people [should] create their own [entertainment]. I have always suspected that dullness resides not in places. But in people who think that places are dull.” Charles Carter, Lancaster University’s First Vice Chancellor
The majority of the early students found it easy to amuse themselves when not in lectures and played an important role in establishing new clubs and enterprises at the university. Student publications proliferated around the campus in the 1960s. As well as the collegiate newspapers, there were three major works;
Student clubs were also widespread during the early existence of the University. The Film Society boasted that “for half a crown”, you could watch anything ranging from The Grapes of Wrath to A Hard Days Night. There was also a Marxist Discussion group for the more left wing political brains and the Conservative and Unionist Association which was one of the first clubs to be formed at the university. University politics were hotly debated. The first JCR meeting for Bowland and Lonsdale occurred in 1967.
There was also the ’64 Society Debating Club’, departmental groups such as the Historical and Biological Society, Scottish Country Dancing and musical groupings such as the Choral Society (for “whether you think you don’t sing or whether you’re sure you do”). For the student interested in doing something more physical during their spare time, there were also numerous clubs and associations to choose from including golf, lawn tennis, rugby and athletics. The Mountaineering club was active in the late 1960s and assured any potential members that “you could do worse than enjoy a leisurely day out with the Mountaineering Club…at least you’ll spend Sunday evening in a different pub than normal.” (Nothing changes!) For those more interested in less taxing sports, there was also a Tiddlywinks club, an apparently competitive sport that required “teamwork, guile, resilience at the knees, gamesmanship and co-ordination between the eye, thumb and the index finger.” The Rag Association was also very popular with students.
In addition to the activities of the student societies and consistent with the collegiate system upon which the university was based, the social life of the early students tended to revolve around the activities organised by individual colleges. Band nights were very popular, but one former member of Pendle recalled that there were only a few electrical sockets by the door of Pendle bar. This meant that great long reams of electrical cable were stretched across the room; unsuspecting musicians that didn’t cut the rug often had their wires unplugged in mid rendition with a simple yank of the power cords! The Great Hall also staged concerts by nationally known groups including Roxy Music, Dire Straits, Mike Oldfield and Eric Clapton, but because of fire regulations and increasing costs of touring, such gigs died out in the 1980s. Today live music is largely restricted to the off-campus social centre in town, the Sugar House.
The Alumni office runs an excellent alumni relations programme for ex-students and some colleges have their own associations.