Posted on 30/09/2011
On Saturday 16th July, the Department of Geography welcomed over 60 alumni to a reunion event. The alumni ranged from Bedford College graduates from the 1950s to Royal Holloway graduates from the 1990s and 2000s.
Marking the 25th anniversary of the merger of Bedford and Royal Holloway colleges, the Department of Geography actually moved from Bedford College in central London to Egham. Opening our event, two members of staff David Hilling, Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway, and Duncan Mcgregor recalled the day when they were told that there was a planned collegial merger. Duncan distinctly recalled his puzzlement when he could not locate Royal Holloway within North London, and it took another colleague to point out to him that his new commuting pattern was not going to involve traveling along the Bakerloo Line!
Notwithstanding the trepidation regarding the move and the creation of a new department at Royal Holloway, our third speaker Tim Unwin reminded us that there was considerable excitement as well at the prospect of a new era of staff growth and academic development. Student numbers increased, especially male students. New appointments such as current Head of Department, David Simon, followed in 1987.
But when the reflections turned to fieldwork, the descriptions of surveying and soil profiling provoked much laughter, as did the terrible weather that often seem to accompany field trips, especially in the UK. David in particular reminded all of us that former colleagues used to insist that all the female students had to wear skirts even if they were clambering over hill slopes and hazardous coastal environments. Whatever the non-assessed health and safety risks, it was judged important, at least for the women, that they were appropriately attired.
After the recollections, the alumni enjoyed socializing over lunch and chatting, in some cases, with friends not seen for over thirty years. With the help of our cartographer, Jenny Kynaston, they were also able to enjoy reading some specially commissioned posters and gaze at a slide show recording our students at work and play over the last fifty years.
With the help of the College's alumni office, we can reflect with some pride at an event, which was judging by the comments from departing alumni, throughly enjoyed. As Lucy Kinna (nee Mawson) from the class of 1979 reflected:
"Thanks very much indeed for organising such a memorable Geography reunion yesterday. I enjoyed it all, immensely – catching up with old friends, seeing some of the new faces in the Geog Dept. hearing the talks.. but to hear dear David Hilling and Duncan Macgregor speak again was best of all - and to have the opportunity to chat with them about ‘the good old days’!"
We look forward to keeping in touch with all our alumni. Please feel free to join us on our facebook page - Royal Holloway Geography Alumni.