Tag Archives: Students

93. Your Starter for Ten: Bradford’s University Challenge

On 28 January 1979 a team of students from Bradford University triumphed against Lancaster University in the final of University Challenge, 215 points to 160.

Bradford University's University Challenge winning team and the reserve

Bradford University’s University Challenge winning team: Watt, Lee (reserve), Bradford, Simkin and Cooter

University Challenge is a notoriously difficult and fast-moving television quiz.  Produced by Granada Television, the original programme was presented by Bamber Gascoigne and ran from 1962 to 1987.   It was revived by the BBC in 1994 with presenter Jeremy Paxman (an honorary graduate of Bradford University) and is still running today.  Contestants are usually university students although there have been series which used different formats.

The Bradford University team of 1979 boasted three postgraduate computer science students (John Watt, Mike Bradford, John Simkin).   The other team members were Maxwell Cooter, an Interdisciplinary Human Studies student, and a reserve, Martin Lee, a postgraduate in Social Sciences.

The dominance of computer scientists apparently “amused and bemused” Bradford’s opponents, though in fact the three were studying conversion courses.  Along with their colleagues, they had excellent general knowledge spanning key subjects such as classical music, literature, sport and art.

The team actually criticised the University Challenge format, which they felt “tested school rather than at university learning” and called for “fast recall of fairly shallow or even trivial knowledge, rather than the analysis or coherent pattern which University education should develop.”   They emphasised that it was no measure of intellectual ability, and might even mislead the public about the nature of students and university life.

Bradford University's University Challenge winning team reunited for a special series in 2002: Lee, Bradford, Simkin and Cooter

Bradford University’s University Challenge winning team reunited for a special series in 2002: Lee, Bradford, Simkin and Cooter

The University of Bradford’s Corp Comms managed to track down three members of the team for a 2002 series celebrating forty years of the programme: University Challenge Reunited.  Bradford, Simkin and Cooter were joined by the reserve, Martin Lee.    The team lost narrowly to their 1979 final opponents, Lancaster, but enjoyed the experience.   John Watt saw the event on television and got in touch later on.

A Bradford University team who took part in the 2003/04 season were less successful, scoring a mere 35 points in their first-round match on 15 December 2003 against Queen’s University Belfast, who scored 280.

Whatever the scores though, the programme has provided plenty of entertainment.  As Bradford’s winning team observed,  “It seems that this sort of quiz would be best approached in a mildly egotistical mood, as a load of laughs, proving nothing in particular!”

Notes and queries.  There is some confusion around the years of wins, partly caused by inconsistencies in listing styles by the programme makers.  Bradford’s win is often attributed to 1980, as can be seen in the 2002 image above.   Mr Cooter’s first name is “Steve” in the News Sheet article, but “Maxwell” elsewhere.

Sources. Quotations from News Sheet March 1979 p.3-4 and 21 and News and Views May 2002 p.7.  (also online, the 2002 press release seeking the 1979 team).  I have also found many other sources useful, including the BBC site and sites by enthusiasts Blanchflower (useful on statistics and the issue of the varying years of wins) and UK gameshows.

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STOP PRESS. 76. Into the Seventies: Prog, Punk and More

By popular request, we’ve taken the List of bands at the University of Bradford Students Union up to 1979 (see Object 76 for the 1960s stories).   I’ll write about this in more detail soon and expect updates on the 1980s and beyond later this summer.  Memories, tickets, posters, and corrections all welcome.

76. Sabbath, Swarbrick and Status Quo: 1960s Rock and Folk at Bradford University

Update: 1970s list now available!

During the 1960s Bradford University’s Students’ Union played host to a cornucopia of bands, including plenty of rock, folk, blues and jazz groups.  We’ve often been asked if well-known groups played so back in 2004 I asked our then Special Collections Assistant John Brooker to compile a definitive list from Javelin magazine.  Now available online: Music at the University of Bradford Students’ Union 1965-1970.   And here’s a selection of photographs to give you a flavour of the music the Union was offering to students:

Black Sabbath, due to play the Bradford University Union, from Javelin 7 May 1970 p. 1

Black Sabbath, from Javelin 7 May 1970

Black Sabbath, who played in May 1970, a “future super group”.  Already popular in Bradford (apparently very well received when they played St George’s Hall with Blodwyn Pig), the band were tipped by reviewer Ron Yaxley for the top: “See them whilst you can!”.

Status Quo on stage at Bradford University Union, Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Status Quo, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Another super group in the making did not impress “Bryan” at the 1968 Freshers’ Ball:  Status Quo have “so little talent and even less personality.  They were not worth the £175 that Ents paid for them”.

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack at the Bradford University Union Freshers' Ball 1968, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

However Bryan was very impressed by legendary blues group Chicken Shack.  At a later concert (in February 1970 – unfortunately couldn’t get the images to reproduce well) Chicken Shack thrilled Terry Carroll: “This just had to be the greatest show seen at Bradford Union for a long time … the ecstatic fans got to their feet and rocked … dance ends with scenes reminiscent of Hair”.

Javelin1968_12DecCarthy cr

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, from Javelin 12 December 1968

The Union also hosted many folk artists.  Here’s Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, “two of the most original and talented singers on the British folk song scene”, guests at the University’s folk club in December 1968.  They were well received: “During their act there was certainly no need to ask for quiet, as is so often necessary”.

Woman playing banjo-ukulele, described as "member of the Travellers, a Chesterfield folk-singing group" due to play Bradford University Union 1968.

Member of the Travellers (from Chesterfield?) playing a banjo-ukulele

“Get with it with a banjo-uke!”.  This image from 19 October 1967 shows a woman playing a banjo-ukulele.  Her name isn’t given, but she is “one of the Travellers – a folk-singing group from Chesterfield”.   I couldn’t find out anything about this band though there is a well-known Canadian folk group of this name …

Do you remember these or other concerts at the University?  Do let us know!  Interested in gigs after 1970?  We’re hoping to do some research on these soon (expect something about Nirvana, Motorhead and Infest …).

72. This Wonderful Little Tome: the 1983 Alternative Prospectus

Now for a students’-eye view of student life: an Alternative Prospectus produced by the University of Bradford Students’ Union in 1983.  This “wonderful little tome” or “colourful piece of literary gold” supplemented the official undergraduate prospectuses with a light-hearted overview of the reality of student life.  For anyone who studied at any UK university during the 1980s it is a trip down memory lane.

There’s loads of practical advice on 1) surviving in Halls, such as, “If you like consistent heating, a regular water supply and have a desire to use the bog roll at weekends, then you’re looking at the wrong accommodation …”

2) Making the most of what the city, the University and the Students’ Union could offer e.g. Bradford “has something to offer everyone, whether it be a reggae club, a curry at 3 o’clock in the morning, ten pints of Theakston’s Old Peculiar, a touring Theatre Company, professional rugby league, a five mile trek across the moors, or a performance of the Messiah at Christmas!”.

3) What to expect from individual courses e.g. “Firstly, ignore the timetable.  Even the lecturers can’t understand it …”

I’ve only ever seen the one Alternative Prospectus at Bradford (there was something of a trend for them at universities during the 1980s).  However, other Union publications offered the same sort of information to new students, like this UBU Handbook from 1973/74:

and this issue of Scrapie (the Students’ Union magazine) from 2003:

71. Why Study at Bradford? Social Science ’71 and Other Historic University Prospectuses

This week, some of the most useful and visually interesting items in the University Archive:  prospectuses offering essential information for students considering university applications.  Such prospectuses answered key questions about courses:

Prospectus for Undergraduate Social Sciences 1971, University of Bradford (UNI L32)

My favourite – the intriguing cover of this 1971 prospectus features very stylish students (I assume)  in front of an industrial scene (not the University as might be expected).

What qualifications do I need to apply?  What will I learn, and how?  Are there exams? Which careers could I pursue?  Who will teach me?  What will it be like at University?   Prospective students still need to know these things, but the traditional prospectus is now supplemented with masses of online information.

Prospectus for Postgraduate Traffic Engineering and Planning 1969, University of Bradford (UNI L11)

Prospectus for Postgraduate Traffic Engineering and Planning 1969.

The designs of the 1960s and early 1970s prospectuses mostly reflect the way the University  saw itself: interdisciplinary, modern, technological, socially aware.

Prospectus for Undergraduate Environmental Science 1972, University of Bradford (UNI L36)

Prospectus for Undergraduate Environmental Science 1972

Prospectus for Undergraduate Applied Social Sciences 1971, University of Bradford (UNI L24)

Prospectus for Undergraduate Applied Social Sciences 1971.

Later 1970s designs were simple, often based on the University’s coat of arms.

Prospectus for MA in Philosophy and Human Studies 1979, University of Bradford (UNI L49)

Prospectus for MA in Philosophy and Human Studies 1979.

Later designs tended to use photographs (I suspect technological advances in printing made this easier and cheaper), often combining images of students with powerful stock photography.

Prospectus for Undergraduate EI &MC, and Media Technology and Production 1995, University of Bradford (UNI L77)

Prospectus for Undergraduate EI & MC, and Media Technology and Production 1995

Special Collections people still find the historic prospectuses useful as a quick and accurate source of historic information about the University e.g. for lists of staff. They also contain great photographs of student life, University buildings etc.   We’ll be looking at student perspectives later.

Prospectus for Undergraduate Optometry 2003, University of Bradford (UNI L121)

Eye-catching prospectus for Undergraduate Optometry 2003.

If you remember being influenced to come to Bradford (or not!) by these publications, or maybe even were involved in writing or designing them, do let us know!

65. Universities, Science and the Just Society: Writings of Ted Edwards

This week’s Objects: two lectures and a book by our first Vice-Chancellor Dr E.G. (Ted) Edwards, The Relevant University, Higher Education for Everyone, and Science, Education and Society.  Universities are complex organisations shaped by many people and influences over many years.  The University of Bradford is perhaps unusual in that so much about its story and even its present nature can be traced back to the ideas and enthusiasms of its first Vice Chancellor, expressed in these particular works.

Front cover of Higher education for everyone by Ted Edwards

Front cover of The Relevant University by Ted EdwardsTed Edwards had strong ideas about universities and society.  Known as “Red” Ted for his membership of  the Communist party until the 1950s, and his generally radical views, he argued that, in the atomic age, scientific research could not be objective.  A University should not, could not seek knowledge without also considering the benefits or dangers of that knowledge to society.  Linked to this was his call for “interdisciplinarity”.  Though, as he acknowledged, this was a cumbersome word, Dr Edwards argued that breaking down the artificial silo mentalities of academic disciplines would allow researchers to gain wider understanding, and hence benefit society.  His philosophy was inclusive: he called for higher education to be democratic, open to all, rather than educating elites.  He also considered that student involvement in University government was essential in making the institution relevant to students – and society.

E.G.Edwards, laughing, with the Students' Union Presidents for 1957/58 (J.Butler) and 1977/78 (David Pope) (archive ref X462/ UNI PEGE2)

E.G.Edwards with the Students’ Union Presidents for 1957/58 (J.Butler) and 1977/78 (David Pope) (archive ref X462/ UNI PEGE2)

He was able to put his philosophies into practice at Bradford during the 1960s and 1970s: a new university, in a city with a radical tradition, in an era of rapid technological change and booming higher education in which social and intellectual norms were being questioned.  Witness the wording of the Charter, which added “the application of knowledge to human welfare”.  Ted overcame considerable opposition to include a student place on University council.  With his support, Bradford pioneered interdisciplinary teaching and research which aimed to help people lead better lives and support others in so doing: Interdisciplinary Human Studies, Project Planning for Developing Countries, and Peace Studies.

Front cover of Science, Education and Society by Ted EdwardsAlthough the University did not then teach these subjects, Ted was keen to develop arts on campus, to ensure a rounded and enjoyable experience for students.  He set up the Fellowships in Visual Arts, Music and Theatre, and encouraged the purchase of artworks to enhance the campus.

He took great interest in Yugoslavia, encouraging the creation of research and teaching into the region, and offering practical help to Skopje, twin city of Bradford, after the terrible earthquake in 1963.

Ted Edwards retired in 1978.  He wrote Higher Education for Everyone  and other pieces about the areas that interested him and continued to be active in peace campaigning.  He died in 1996.  His work is continued in the University’s community involvement, its links with industry, its pioneering concern for the environment and in the continuing story of the areas of study he encouraged.

This account is based on a piece written for a 2006 exhibition about Ted Edwards’ legacy: Art and Archives.   Special Collections includes masses of archive material about his work and ideas: his own Archive and those of the University and its predecessor BIT.

41. Two 22nd Decembers: Merry Christmasses at Bradford Technical College

Two seasonal favourites, among the rare surviving materials about student life in the Bradford Technical College Archive: programmes for events organised by the Students’ Union, thirteen years apart, both on the 22nd December.

The first happened in 1903: an annual social evening, featuring musical selections, dancing and sleight of hand tricks plus, tantalisingly, “&c &c”.  This single sheet has survived because it was bound with the student magazine The Collegian.

The other is  an Entertainment of Convalescent Soldiers in 1916.  We have the complete programme, so we can reconstruct the day: see the middle pages and the back cover on our flickr stream.

The Entertainment combined promotion of the cutting edge technological facilities at the College and jolly treats.  There were visits to the newish departments we saw earlier on and demonstrations of the production and properties of “liquid air” i.e. air which has been cooled until it is liquid.  The demos showed the “effect of great cold on common objects: flowers, beefsteak, rubber, whisky, grapes, egg, mercury and metals”.  There was also a humourist, a ventriloquist, a cinematograph, and plenty of music.

We’ll be looking at more recent student activities in several of next year’s Objects, so please do come back and see us then.  We would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2012!