The History of Carolynne

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We are often asked why the supplement of SCAN is called “Carolynne.” Over the last few years, SCAN has built up a collection of sections that have had various names ranging from “Fusion” to “Student Life” and beyond. However, there has always been a staple diet in some form of a Culture section, a Lifestyle section, and a Features section.

It was Lizzie Houghton who in 2010 decided to group these sections and call it Carolynne. But that still doesn’t explain where the name comes from.

Carolynne was, in fact, a publication well before 2010 – and even before SCAN. It at one point existed as the primary magazine on campus at Lancaster.

Founded early in the Michaelmas Term of 1964, Carolynne was named by its founding editor, William Smethurst, after a girl that he had recently met and tried to impress: Carolynne Harmsworth.

While this does sound a bit odd (I’m fairly sure there are no girls out there named ‘SCAN’), the pair later did get married – and it would seem they announced their engagement in Carolynne itself. Smethurst would go on to become a scriptwriter for The Archers, a novelist and BBC Journalist.

Originally, the magazine was exclusively a publication of Bowland College, so perhaps this suggests that the current college magazines, such as the Bowland Lady, could have an extra level of ambition. Over time, the magazine became its own independent organisation.

Publication continued for a further seven years, until its final edition was published in December 1971 – the 59th issue. At its peak, Carolynne published ten issues in a year, but it did publish occasional extra issues as well as the Vintage editions. These were essentially an annual version of the magazine, produced each summer from 1966 to 1971.

One of the most surprising facts about Carolynne is that at one point, two versions of each issue were produced: a University edition, and a City edition. The City edition was sold in shops in Lancaster City Centre, and could even be found in some newsagents in Preston.

On these pages, we have reproduced some pages from editions of Carolynne we have obtained from the University Archive, which also has a full record of other University publications, including SCAN and the John O’Gauntlet, which is no longer published.

The John O’Gauntlet was founded alongside Carolynne, and continued to be published until 1972. Marion McClintock, the Honorary University Archivist, spoke to SCAN about the two publications and gave some insight into the types of stories they covered.

“The two publications conducted a series of feuds with each other,” she said. “Carolynne was slightly to the right, John O’Gauntlet somewhat to the left and more of a newspaper, although there was considerable overlap in their style and coverage. For example, both interviewed Stanley Henig when he became an MP, or commented on the hardships of St Leonard’s House, or the current controversies on examinations or the cost of student living.”

Carolynne was sold, at first for 6d (sixpence, 2.5p) and later for a shilling (5p), and relied on a lot of local advertising. It regularly used female students as cover girls, which is something we might struggle to justify for a campus news publication in 2013.

McClintock gave us some more insight into the content of Carolynne. She said: “It was a gossipy magazine, featuring pen portraits of members of academic staff – that even today recall the persons described very vividly – and about other students, with a lot of in-jokes within a student community that was still small enough for everyone to appreciate them.

“It also had some regular features such as Diary of an Undergraduate, at first mostly about the struggles of an imaginary student with his landlady and her daughter Chastity, or Jacobin, which would cover shorter items of general interest from around the university; a kind of proto-Inkblots.”

Ultimately, Carolynne ceased to be published until SCAN brought the name back to life in 2010. Ironically, it would seem that SCAN’s improvement was one of the factors leading to Carolynne’s demise. McClintock said: “I think Carolynne’s demise was due to simple exhaustion, to the effort of selling a magazine when the developing SCAN was free of charge, to the effect of the new staff-student magazine, Lancaster Comment, and perhaps to the consequences of a larger student population, for whom the in-jokes were no longer so intelligible or funny.

“In the meanwhile, it was a publication that I personally greatly enjoyed and always made sure I purchased, for the information about the University it gave me, and for its general liveliness and sense of humour.”

Black Edition

The Black Issue was published in June 1969, and caused controversy. It described many social problems that were apparently present on campus, such as the use of (soft) drugs, theft of Library books on a large scale, and noise and drunkenness around the college residences.

McClintock describes it as “an over-inflated attempt to be sensational, [which] followed on a previous edition from 1968 about whether Cartmel College should arrange student rooms with male and female students on the same corridor at a time when there was no en suite accommodation.” This 1968 edition brought national coverage, and McClintock suggests it might have led to the editors of Carolynne attempting something similar with the Black Issue.

After an investigation (the University was quick to respond this time after the controversy that the 1968 issue caused), the most significant allegations were found to be largely unfounded.

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