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'A Handful of Men'

Some reminiscences we have in the Archives give a humorous description of the arrival of the new male undergraduates, giving an impression of over-excited teenagers.

Jon's Room

JonsRoom2-unacatloguedmaterialAcc1506

(Uncatalogued materical Acc. 15/06)

“They [men] ran over the buildings like mad things. They got into every nook and cranny. We spent a fortune on locks that year to stop them running about.” - Reminiscences of Richard Hardy, Secretary to the Governors from 1963 (reminiscences collected by Caroline Bingham - RHC RF/132/5)

 

The sustainability of Royal Holloway as the academic institution that it had been was threatened by the distraction that these young males brought. This is clearly evident in this query posed to the student magazine:

 

“I have started to go out with a boy. This is having a bad effect on my work because he seems to have very little work and is always asking me out in the evenings. Which should suffer, work or happiness?” - Query placed under the caption 'Everybody's Problem', Chateau, 29th February, 1968 (AS/200/46)

 

There were attempts to inhibit the disruption that the arrival of 101 male undergraduates may have caused. Male and female students did not have total freedom to mix with each other. Male students were not resident on campus. They were not permitted to dine in Founder's dining hall andthey had to be out of girls' bedrooms by 10.30pm. The arrival of the male undergraduates was certainly not well received by the local men who had been on intimate terms with some of the girls. The students of Shoreditch Training College on Cooper's Hill, a male crafts college, angrily barricaded the entrance to Kingswood Hall on the day the first male students arrived.

 

“During the first week we had nocturnal visitors – the denizens of Shoreditch College of Education. Somewhat miffed by RHC having suddenly produced home-grown males to queer their pitch vis-à-vis the ladies, they decided to erect a wall across the Kingswood main entrance gate. As most of them were training to be craft teachers, they did an excellent job!” -

Reminiscences of Mike Bayliss, RHC student 1965-69 (reminiscences collected by Caroline Bingham - RHC RF/132/3)

 

“One of the things we were told jolly quickly was that we all had to be OUT of girls’ rooms by 9.30 to begin with. Then it was 10.30. But it was definitely impressed upon us that any male caught within the College precincts after that hour would be fairly well dealt with. So, of course, naturally to some it was a challenge to get away with remaining over one night undetected. Well, Robert Pearce did that – or he said he did and all the evidence seemed to point to it!” - Memories of Vianney Waters, RHC student 1965-68 (reminiscences collected by Caroline Bingham - RHC RF/132/3)

The admittance of a relatively substantial number of men certainly put pressure on accomodation. The College couldn't sustain the relatively self-contained set-up of the previous 80 years. A new hall, Kingswood, was established in Englefield Green to cater for 50 males, whist others inhabited a bedsit in town by the Staines roundabout. Some lived on a houseboat on the Thames, which must have made for some good parties! And some even surpassed the luxury of their female predecessors by taking rooms in Windsor Castle (though it is unclear how they managed to accomplish this!).

Accomodation has been a big sustainability issue since the 1960s given the huge increase in the College population. In just over 20 years the College population increased from 387 in 1960/61 to 1,635 in 1984/85. Use has been made of every available space in Founder's, a far cry from Holloway's original plan that girls should always have two rooms each. Students now occupy attic bedrooms once inhabited by servants.

 
 
 

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