A tale of nine colleges…


Bowland College – 1964

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

One of two founding colleges, the establishment of Bowland College was confirmed, alongside Lonsdale, by the Lancashire County Council in 1965. Named after the Forest of Bowland in south Lancashire, which is “An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, the College proudly pays tribute to its namesake with its logo, the Bowland Lady.

The Bowland Lady personifies the forest and her image comes from a Lancashire map drawn by William Hole for a poem published in 1622. A copy of the poem, ‘Poly Olbion, or a Chorographical Description of… The Renowned Isle of Great Britain’, resides in the University library and the map is displayed in the college bar.

Bowland College lies at the heart of campus and was one of the first colleges to be built on the Bailrigg campus with many students moving in from their old residences in the Waring and Gillow Factory. Many of the college’s facilities were refurbished in 2011, including the Trough of Bowland which currently holds the prominent status of the oldest college bar on campus. In addition to this, the frontage of the physical Bowland College building was converted into the Learning Zone at the cost of £2.5 million and opened by Sir Alan Langland in January 2010. More recently, the University celebrated the refurbishment and reopening of Bowland Tower, which was completed this January to a very high standard and retains the title of tallest building on campus standing at 14 storeys high and originally designed to disguise the University’s boiler room chimney. Bowland has also remained central to the interests of students housing the Students’ Union since at least the 1990s in Slaidburn House and then moving to Bowland Main with refurbished offices in time for the start of the 2013 academic year.

With the stirring motto of ‘Bowland Till I Die’, members of Bowland compete in various inter college sporting events such as the Carter Shield and Bowland alumni flock to their home college every summer for the glory of Founders – an annual competition between Bowland and Lonsdale as the first of Lancaster’s colleges. Alumni of Bowland College include Matthew Fort, TV Food Critic and Journalist (English 1968), Mark Price, Managing Director, Waitrose (Classics and Archaelogy, 1982) and Jason Queally MBE, Olympic Gold Medal Cyclist (Biological Sciences, 1992).

Lonsdale College – 1964

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

Lonsdale College, one of the two founding colleges, is also celebrating its 50th birthday this year and remains one of the largest colleges on campus. Like many of the other colleges, it is named after a region of the traditional county of Lancashire and the Lonsdale area, the valley of the River Lune. With a cry of ‘simply the best!’, Lonsdale is represented by the colloquially known Lonnie Lion on its logo.

In the early years of the college system, the colleges were unsure of their role in University life. In a statement of intent produced by the college in 1966, the college’s main aims were defined as being: to provide a means of expression for the academic staff in general matters of university policy and a basis for an academic life transcending that of the department, to provide a focus of communal life, and to provide for the welfare of junior members through both the tutorial system and the maturing influence of corporate life, while avoiding the sacrifice of their personal liberty.

Lonsdale was originally located in what is now known as Bowland North and was designed in tandem with Bowland. In 2004, Lonsdale was relocated alongside Cartmel to the newly built development in Alexandra Park, and the original buildings were given to Bowland. For 40 years, Lonsdale was home to the Law department and the Modern Language department, but as the University entered the 2000s, the role and location of Lonsdale College changed. Lonsdale has a long-standing reputation as the ‘party college’, with some of the most popular social events held on campus – the end of the year Extrav parties held by the colleges in summer term are always extremely popular for Lonsdale.

Lonsdale bar was recently renamed ‘The Red Lion’ in order to incorporate the logo. The college magazine – the Purple Lonnie, although it is currently named Roar – enjoys a claim to fame, as the name comes from an encounter with the popular Purple Ronnie character, used in greetings cards and who was included in an advertising campaign for Vimto. A parent of a member of the JCR worked for the company that wrote the Purple Ronnie poems and when asked to pen a Purple Ronnie poem for Lonsdale, it came back signed ‘Purple Lonnie’.

The County College – 1967

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

Celebrated as one of the most popular choices for incoming students, the largest college on campus and named for the Lancashire County Council, the County College resides in the northernmost point of campus. County’s motto is ‘Nothing Without [The] Council’, and the college colours are blue and bright golden yellow. The County council donated generous sums of money towards the construction of the college and promised to donate £50,000 a year for a decade towards the University’s running costs.

The original college building, County Main, was opened in 1969 by Queen Elizabeth II and centres around a large oak tree that is approximately 200 years old – whose roots remained safe as the college buildings were erected. An oak leaf is the logo of County, and it is also included on the college’s Coat of Arms which were officially granted by the College of Arms; the designer of the logo, architect Roger Booth, won an award for it. Unofficially, the motto of the College is ‘Do it for the tree’. In 1978, County West was constructed and in 2004 the college continued to expand into the old buildings that were vacated by Cartmel College. These buildings were refurbished and renamed, and the college bar The Northern Oak replaced the old Cartmel bar – it was reported in Steps, the Lancaster alumni magazine, in 2005 that when construction was complete the college would have doubled in size. County West was demolished in 2007 to make way for the townhouses, which look out onto Lancaster Square and were opened in 2008.

The County College may not be the oldest college, but it continues to flourish. It was also host to a short visit from the Queen in October 1969, where she visited the County College and unveiled a commemorative plaque to honour the contribution of the Council. The Northern Oak is host to live music nights called Live At The Oak – which take place every other Wednesday during term time – and the County Comedy Club which is organised by students, encouraging more cultural aspects of collegiate life. Notable alumni include Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films, Caesar in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and graduated from Lancaster in 1985 after studying visual arts. During his time at Lancaster, Serkis was heavily involved with designing and producing plays at the Nuffield Theatre, and went on to work for local Lancastrian theatre the Duke’s Playhouse.

Furness College – 1968

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

The fifth college to be established at Lancaster University, Furness College, was conceived in 1966, when a 12 person planning committee, chaired by the founding Principal of Furness, Professor Reynolds, was created to design the buildings and facilities of the college.

In 1968, Furness became the college that declared ‘Everywhere else is nowhere’. Currently, Furness is one of the smallest colleges, bringing in around 400 first year undergraduates each year, which furthers their reputation as a small, close-knit college.

The Furness logo is a cross-section of the Furness landscape and it provides an indication as to the nature of the region from which the college takes its name. The Furness region stretches from the industrial docklands of Barrow-in-Furness to the mountains of Coniston in the Lake District and has been witness to a turbulent history. In the 12th century, Furness, alongside Cartmel, was taken under the wing of the Honour of Lancashire. For 800 years, Furness and Cartmel separated Morecambe Bay from the rest of Lancashire, and were only brought into Cumbria after the reorganisation of the county boundaries.

Despite the turmoil of the Furness region, the College is situated in the heart of campus, with each of its residence blocks being named after the towns and villages – as a permanent legacy brought into the hubbub of campus life. The College and its JCR are known for encouraging a vibrant social, cultural and sporting life amongst their students – the 15 hour bar crawl is a long-established tradition. Furness competes in the Patriots Cup each year against Cartmel which involves dozens of different sports played over the course of a weekend.
The Furness bar, Trevor, was refurbished and opened in 2012 much to the delight of students after being closed for over a year. In an interview in 2004 the President of Furness at the time, Emma Harper, spoke of the most important feature of life in Furness College: “All Furnessians are extremely friendly and up for a good time, which makes life in Furness a pleasant and fun atmosphere. I feel proud to belong to the best college on campus.” Another member of the JCR described the members, past and present, of Furness College as “one big happy family.”

Furness alumni include: Actor and screenwriter, Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Music, 1978), Labour MP for Tynemouth, Alan Campbell, (Politics 1978), Actor in ‘The Office’’, Harry Potter films, and ‘Game of Thrones’ Ralph Ineson (Theatre Studies, 1991) and Chief Executive of the Money Advice Service, Caroline Rookes CBE (English, 1975).

Cartmel College – 1968

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

Cartmel College, founded in 1968, is named for the Cartmel peninsula which is deemed to be one of the most beautiful areas in Cumbria and remains home to the famous Cartmel Priory.

Cartmel College and the University embroiled in a scandal in May 1968, when Lancaster student-run publication Carolynne published a piece about a confidential meeting of the Cartmel College syndicate, at which the idea of mixed corridors when the college became residential was discussed. It was supported by the Dean-Elect of the college, Dr David Craig, who stated that he believed students should also have mixed bedrooms if they wished. Founding Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, Charles Carter, spoke in 1963 of his desire to find ways for male and female social students to socialise with each other within the colleges, but after fears of donation withdrawals in the light of the Carolynne article in 1968 he stated: “No arrangements would be made which might in any way be interpreted as an invitation to sexual licence.” Nowadays, of course, all college residences are mixed sex.

In 2004, Cartmel accommodation was relocated from the top of campus to Alexandra Park, as part of the new development in the southwest campus centred round Barker House Farm. The old Cartmel buildings towards the north of the Bailrigg campus became County South and were originally designed by Manchester-based architect Haydyn Smith. Smith planned the structure of the college in order to expose it to as much natural light as possible, although with Lancaster’s reputation for cloudy skies, it is debatable how much sunlight the buildings enjoy!
Barker House Farm is an integral part of the Cartmel dining hall and bar, as although it was originally purchased to be sports fields, it was deemed to be suitable for either arts teaching or student residences.

In the end, it was decided that the development would be a part of the south west campus project and the plan was to surround and incorporate the listed buildings of Barker House Farm into the soon-to-be Cartmel College residents. Barker House Farm, which is now the core of the Cartmel College dining facilities, features a lintel above a window which was built in approximately 1691, and is engraved with the initials for a Richard (1644-1711) and Jennet (birth date unknown – 1713) Barker. It was opened by Her Royal Highness Prince Alexandra in December 2004 as her last official duty as Chancellor.

Alumni from Cartmel include: Simon Danczuk (Sociology, 1992) currently MP for Rochdale, David Watson (Politics, 1998), Senior Campaigns Manager for the Prime Minister’s Office and Rainer Hersh, (Economics, 1985), Presenter, Comedian & Musician.

Fylde College – 1968

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

Fylde College holds pride of place at Lancaster as the sixth college, with the construction of the college buildings beginning in 1968 and students being accepted from 1969. The beginnings of Fylde College lie in the establishment of a group of young lecturers, who formed ‘College 6’, which they envisioned to be a commune-style College which students could have more influence over. Originally, it was planned that students would begin to enter the college in 1970, but the first phase of Furness College was completed ahead of schedule and £125,000 under budget by 1968, so the University decided to begin work on the ‘Sixth College Project’ earlier than scheduled.

Officially opened in 1971, it celebrated its own 40th birthday in October 2011. The College motto ‘seek truth in the field’ is not just a nod to the University’s own, but it also refers to the world outside of the University walls. The College is named for the Fylde region, which spans the area of land between the Trough of Bowland, the Ribble Valley and the Irish Sea. The Windmill is the official logo of the college, which pays homage to the fact that at one point, there were over 35 windmills scattered along the Fylde Coast. The college expanded in 1970 with four more blocks and with more added in the early 1980s and 1990s.

In 2005, Fylde became the second college to be located on two separate sites and began to offer en-suite residence on the south-west side of campus, however it has since been reunited on its original site and is now one of the smaller colleges on campus. Many of the main blocks were demolished, internally and externally, in order to completely refurbish accommodation alongside a mass refurbishment of the colleges by the University. In 2006, further efforts were made to improve the quality of room layouts and finished in Fylde, much of which was done in consultation with students. Fylde has a reputation for being the home of sport at Lancaster, and the college competes in multiple inter-college tournaments such as Legends and Carter Shield.

Pendle College – 1974

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

The seventh college to be founded, Pendle College is named after the historical area 30 miles south of Lancaster, centred on Clitheroe but dominated by Pendle Hill. The term ‘Pendle’ is associated with legend and folklore, with Pendle Hill being the area commonly associated with the notorious Pendle witches and tied to Lancaster due to their subsequent trials at Lancaster Castle. As such, the college logo features the ‘Pendle Witch’ riding her broomstick against a yellow background and the college colours are green and yellow.

The current residence blocks surround the three sides of a grassy quad, which is often used for annual open-air events such as Extrav Night. The bar, Pendle Rooms, is also popular for the Pendle Live events; although the building contains multiple social spaces that can be used besides the bar. Pendle were not moved to the newer accommodation blocks until 1994 and looks over woodland, InfoLab21 and the villages of Ellel and Galgate. The college participates in the Carter Shield and Legends events.

The newer accommodation blocks that Pendle reside in were originally meant for either Grizedale or Pendle, who were sharing accommodation and administrative services. Rumour has it that as the matter could not be decided by the Senior Common Rooms, it was instead decided through a drinking game conducted between students from both colleges, which Grizedale won, and they chose to retain their existing buildings and absorb Pendle. Pendle College spread from the area known as Pendle East to nine blocks of accommodation in Alexandra Park, offering a broad spread of accommodation.

Notable alumni of the college include: James May, famous for his time as a journalist and present of BBC’s Top Gear; Alan Milburn, a former Labour MP who was recently appointed the role of University Chancellor, to begin in January 2015; and Ranvir Singh, journalist and TV presenter of BBC North West Tonight.

Grizedale College – 1975

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

Grizedale College, named after the Grizedale Forest in the Lake District, came into existence in 1975. The word ‘Grizedale’ originates from Norse and means ‘Valley of the Wild Boar’, which is why the college logo sports a blue boar. The college is reasonably close to the centre of campus, though when it was first built it was situated on what was deemed to be the southern extremity of the Bailrigg campus. Near the Management School and the George Fox building, it was completely refurbished in the last five years and was only completed in late 2009.

Initially Grizedale shared accommodation and administration with Pendle College and new accommodation built in 1994 that was intended to be part of Grizedale was given to Pendle. The Grizedale boar was only recently inaugurated as the college mascot, originally Depravo the rat – a creation of Monty Python legend Michael Palin – represented the college, thanks to a member of staff who had been friendly with Palin and he granted the rights to the character to the college. The boar became the second mascot in the 1980s after a number of parents questioned the relevance of Depravo. Since 2000, the boar has been the main mascot of the college though the bar maintained the name ‘Depravos’ until its demolition in 2007.

The original Grizedale college blocks were demolished in 2006 and problems with other building projects meant that the site of the former buildings remained vacant for almost the entirely of the academic year. The new Grizedale accommodation comprised of multiple townhouses and apartments, centred round the Grizedale quad which is now used during the summer for barbeques by students and a social space for those residing in the townhouses. The college boasts other facilities for students such as the bar, a quiet reading room and facilities focused on the needs of their off-campus students, including a brew area and lockers.

Graduate College – 1992

Photo by Sammie Caine
Photo by Sammie Caine

One of the final colleges to be established, the Graduate College represented a new chapter in University life upon its conception in August 1990. Its establishment marked the first new college development at Lancaster for 20 years and reflected the University’s commitment to research and scholarship, as well as ensuring an increased quality of life for the postgraduate members of Lancaster. Described as having a “multi-cultural feel”, it is claimed that Graduate College presents its members with “an ideal opportunity to broaden horizons, share experiences and celebrate diversity.”

Prior to the creation of Graduate College, the other eight colleges also took postgraduate students. As a University renowned for excellent research facilities and recognised internationally for its fantastic work – most of which has been performed by postgraduates – it was felt that postgraduates should have their own college for social, administrative and accommodation purposes. Instead of having a JCR to govern the College, Graduate have a Post Graduate Students’ Association (PGSA) – now known as the PG Board – which is a sub-committee of Lancaster University Students’ Union.

The new college complex comprised of around 400 study bedrooms and associated communal facilities, alongside the brand new bar, The Herdwick – which regularly hosts beer and ale festivals, attracting not just postgraduates, but alumni and undergraduates too. The new site was opened for use in 1996, with Dr. Chris Park – second dean of the Lancaster University Graduate School – appointed principal in 1990.

Another aim of the Graduate College was to ensure that there was year-round provisions for the students, who were expected to work intensively from early October to the following mid-September, were improved and made more appropriate. The original buildings of Graduate College were positioned at the north end of the University, but the lack of college and social amenities, as well as the cramped site, led to discussions to relocate the college. As a result, Graduate College was moved to south-west campus in 1996 and greatly enlarged the Alexandra Park development where eventually, Lonsdale, Cartmel and Pendle residences would be built.

In October 2003, the college continued to grow as 402 new en-suite rooms were built and opened on the main Graduate College site, on the south-west of campus. At this stage, it was the first time in 14 years that all of the grad students living on campus were housed together and created the opportunity for Lancaster to create a vibrant, multi-cultural community of students from over 90 countries – which has only continued to grow over the past 10 years.

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