05 October 2009

The Sheffield Experience: Half a Century On

Photo: 50 years on outside Firth Court

On the first weekend in October, six of us who had started our studies in Sheffield exactly fifty years ago, hired a large cottage in Derbyshire and had a wonderful weekend of restrained indulgence, as you would expect from Stephenson gentlemen and their partners.

Then, on the Monday we were shown around the University by three members of the alumni office, who were charming, generous with their time and very informative. The weekend took a bit of organising but the opportunity of talking over our University days at leisure, then visiting old haunts and finding out about the huge strides the University has made, constituted a magical package and we would strongly recommend something similar to anyone.

The University is almost ten times as big as when we went up in 1959 and so much has changed. The facilities for students, especially the library (Information Commons) and Students’ Union, are superb. But Stephensonians of our vintage should come prepared for a shock: our dining hall, where we wore jacket and tie and an academic gown for dinner every evening has become a pool room and the library looks forlornly like the stores room of a failing small business. Two consolations however: overall provision for student accommodation, in sites like The Edge, just below Stephenson are excellent, and our old rival Crewe Hall has become a block of flats. Result!

The photo shows Mike Liberthal (now Leigh), Howard Parry, Bill Cullen, Stephen and Margaret Ingle (nee Farmer) and Roger Byron on the steps of Firth Court – steps not trodden since Finals in 1962. Brian Meaden also came for the weekend but was unable to stay for the tour (and photo).

By Stephen Ingle (BA Modern History & Politics, 1962)