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Thoughts from Staff

In 1965 I applied for the post of "Design Engineer and Head of Workshops"; a post that actually went to the much better suited Fred Macintyre. A year later I was still desperate to find a new job, so when I saw an advert for engineering lecturers I sent a postcard to the University saying that I assumed they had kept my details and would they use them as an application for the lectureship? I felt so doubtful about the whole idea of becoming a university teacher that, when asked to bring my application up-to-date, I didn't even reply. (Read more...)
David Turner, 1966-1986


The opening of the Arts Centre in 1976 was marked by a concert given by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Muti. The major work before the interval was Roderigo's Guitar Concerto with John Williams as the soloist. Immediately after the interval, the Vice-Chancellor, Jack Butterworth, spent ten or fifteen minutes outlining how the Arts Centre had come into being and indicating that it would be second in size only to the Barbican Centre as a venue for the performing arts. Finally, he called upon Ricardo Muti to perform the opening ceremony.

Those who expected a few well-chosen remarks praising the Arts Centre and complimenting the University on its creation were in for a surprise. The maestro immediately pulled the chord to part the curtains and reveal the commemorative plaque, pronounced the Arts Centre duly opened and then marched purposfully to the conductor's rostrum and proceeded to conduct the fastesst performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony that I have ever heard, cutting five to ten minutes off the normal performance time. One could only conclude that his timetable had not made any allowance for the Vice-chancellor's remarks and he was in danger of missing his return train to London!
Keith Jennings


Jack Butterworth was wont to go walkabout when bored and on one occasion he picked me for company. We wandered into Rootes Reception which at that time liked pretty bare and unwelcoming. ‘Oh’ says JB, ‘that corner leads into the kitchens and might be a good place to introduce an evening eating area. All we need is two walls incorporating plenty of glass, and a cooking area.’ (Read more...)
Colin Brummitt, Finance Officer, 1977-93

I joined the University of Warwick in November 1969 after attending two interviews. The first interview was with Paddy Stephenson, Administrative Assistant, and Kathleen Grimshaw, Admissions Officer. Paddy went on to Sussex, Nottingham and the Registrar of UMIST. My second interview was with Mike Shattock and the late John Watkins. I was appointed to work with John Watkins and later, in January 1974, became Jim Rushton’s secretary until I retired. I have seen many changes over the years and watched young administrators come and go on to greater things due to Mike’s excellent training. (Read more...)
Pam Bate, Secretary to Jim Rushton, Deputy Registrar, November 1969-February 1997

Living locally it was with interest and some degree of amazement to catch glimpses across the fields of the new buildings of the main campus. Stark, white shapes shining in the sunlight appeared as a futuristic dream or space city. We muttered a bit “Why here?” But thank goodness for the foresight and imagination of those responsible. The university has become something the old locals are so proud to have in their backyards. Facilities beyond imagination to share – music, theatre and art. A spotless and well-landscaped campus with its many types of building fits in surprisingly well with the natural environment. (Read more...)
Esme Bradbury, Deputy Registrar’s Office, 1986-1991

In 1978 on the first of April (All Fools’ Day) Coventry College of Education (now Westwood) was very pleased with the news that at the eleventh hour they were to join the University of Warwick on one big campus. Jack Butterworth and Mike Shattock came to our crowed Staff Council and formally made the announcement. We were impressed with Jack’s outgoing and pleasing manner and his positive views for our joint future. (Read more...)
Patricia Bragg, Lecturer in Physical Education, 1978-90

When I went to work in Senate House in the late 70s it was customary for exam results to be posted on screens in the foyer. I was told it was a great place to be to share in the excitement and celebrations as the results went up. When the first sheets were posted I waited impatiently for the first whoops of joy to begin and the first student arrived just as the last drawing pin had gone in. We beamed at one another and I hovered ready to congratulate her. Shock horror - a loud wail reverberated round the hall and she kept shrieking "my name is not on the list". She had failed. My day was ruined too. (Read more...)
Audrey Paskett, Former receptionist and secretarial assistant Ancillary Services

My first memory when we arrived at Warwick in 1977 was the welcome extended to us by Jack and Doris Butterworth. We were involved in numerous inter-faculty social occasions and Doris involved me in the Women’s Group (other connotations eventually causing the name to be changed to Newcomers’ Group). There were Christmas parties for staff children – Jack or one of the professors was Santa. I recall feeling sick after blowing up numerous balloons! (Read more...)
Margaret Wallis, Careers Advisory Service, 1978-99

I was the Chairman of the Women's Group for a year in the 1970s and want to make sure that something of it is mentioned in these memoirs as it served a valuable purpose. We came to Warwick in 1970 when my husband was appointed to a lectureship in Physics and we quickly got to know many of the other Physics staff and their wives and families. It seemed much harder to meet people from other departments, so we were very grateful that the Women’s Group existed. (Read more...)
Margaret Hall, Women's Group

I spent three happy and exciting years in the Arts Centre, and we lived through a lot of ups and downs; attracting and keeping an audience, going through the exercise of ‘papering the house’ when shows opened on a Monday, encountering aching ballet dancers on the stairs after their daily class, and meeting many visiting ‘stars’. We had some pretty good parties, too! For several months we regularly assembled in the car park during the daytime: when too many loos were flushed at the same time the cumulative effect was to set off the fire alarms. (Read more...)
Liz Thompson, Economics, Arts Centre, DERC, MMB, CSGR 1972-2003

The fledgling Careers Service was located near the East Site lecture theatre. The view consisted mainly of ploughed fields. My title was Assistant Appointments Officer.

Underfloor heating had been installed. After some months, the feet of my desk chair had forced depressions in the floor covering. (Read more...)
Malcolm Melrose, Careers, 1967-1993

I remember coming to work one day to find that some students (we assumed) had painted the first chapter of Winnie the Pooh on the footpath from Gibbet Hill to central campus. Lots of people walked backwards down the hill reading it until the painting was cleaned up. We were quietly amused. (Read more...)
Laura Lock, Head Cashier, Hospitality Services

Over my time at Warwick I’ve seen many excellent new buildings appear, the most memorable being the Arts Centre, Students’ Union (phases 1 & 2), Jack Martin / Claycroft / Lakeside Residences, Radcliffe and Scarman Houses, International Manufacturing Centre, New Maths and Computer Science Buildings. (Read more...)
Gerry Biggs, Computer Technician, Computer Science 1975-2004

I joined the University in October 1965 as an Assistant Lecturer in the School of Molecular Sciences. The aim of the department was to broaden a conventional chemistry course to embrace the boundaries of chemistry with biology and with physics. However, sixth form students didn’t know what Molecular Sciences was and our applications suffered. We subsequently became the Department of Chemistry.

My interview, which took place more than a year earlier, was held in the lounge of International House in New York and was very informal by present day standards. (Read More...)
Dr David M. Hirst, Department of Chemistry, 1965 - 2003

In 1964 admissions interviews with academic staff and students took place in corridors in odd corners of the East Site. Some came in school uniform and particularly noticeable were the boys from Blue Coat School with their yellow stockings. The school certificates came in for checking ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels and some were framed in glass which made them difficult to return. (Read more...)
Barbara Moore, Admissions 1964, Registry 1965-9

Airline food
When HRH the Prince of Wales visited the University in the late 1980s to deliver a lecture on the Gibbet Hill Campus, he was entertained to refreshments. However, the two pilots of his helicopter had to be served food prepared by different chefs in different kitchens, to minimise the possibility of their both being taken ill at the same time. (Read more: Bill Clinton's visit, the farmhouse cellar, naming the residences...)
Andrew Paine, Director of Hospitality Services

Thoughts on the Early Years of the University
I joined Warwick in 1967 – in the middle of the second year of teaching. This slightly eccentric starting date was made possible by the unique syllabus which had been created for History by John Hale, the Founding Professor, and his first colleagues, with chronology inverted so that the first students studied modern history before turning to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. (Read more...)
Michael Mallett, History, 1967-1999

As an ex-member of the Faculty/Institute of Education, this occasion is probably the right one to recall the long-drawn-out and fairly traumatic events surrounding the merger of the University with the former City of Coventry College of Education. The College had been founded almost twenty years before (around 1947) and experienced many memorable developments of its own along the way, becoming one of the largest and most successful of its class. (Read more...)
Mary Hulton, Faculty (Department of Arts Education – History) and Institute of Education, 1978 -1996.

No-one who was at Warwick in the early 70s will forget the problem of the White Tiles. The early buildings on Main Site are moderately flexible steel-frame structures which move and distort as the clay beneath expands and contracts with the seasons. It requires care or ingenuity to clad such a building with a rigid layer so that the layer stays on. The attraction of the white tiles with which these buildings were clad it that they are weatherproof and require little maintenance. Not many years after the completion of some of these buildings it became evident that there was a problem. (Read more...)
Christopher Hall, Physics

Student Sit-In of Senate House, Spring 1975.
The sit-in lasted over 3 weeks. Well into the third week I was accosted in the Library Road by a Professor in Business Studies, demanding to know why I hadn’t answered his telephone calls. It was clear he didn’t know about the sit-in!

The re-occupation by the Sheriff and his posse (200 police) involved a rendezvous at the College of Education Hall for a dawn (7am) assault. My role was to ensure there were ladders hidden in the Multi-Storey car park. All unnecessary as the students trooped out like lambs!

Students thought the Council Chamber was bugged. It wasn’t!
C.J. Ferguson, Estates, 1973-97

My attention was drawn to the University of Warwick some time before my husband started applying for employment there. I was listening to a Radio 4 broadcast – it could have been the Today programme, at breakfast one morning and Jack Butterworth’s voice came booming over the airways discussing the pros and cons of having a ‘mixed sex’ Hall of Residence. (Read more...)
Sheila Ferguson, Audio Visual Centre 1978-1989

Looking back over the years of my time in the University’s catering department, my fondest memories are of Graduation Day. Last minute panic requests from graduates asking for safety pins to secure their gowns, their parents looking on, their faces beaming with pride and pleasure. The graduates themselves looked confident, smartly dressed, faces glowing with a sense of satisfaction and relief, but with an air of excitement as to what the future might hold. Far removed from the sometimes shy and nervous freshers than had arrived a few years earlier.
Maureen Morris, Senior Supervisor, Hospitality Services

In the early 1970s we had a ‘Sit In’ on the East Site. At that time our office was in the building which since became the Estates Office. The main office was called the Registry and even the Senate met in the largest room. I think this was the first ‘Sit In’ at Warwick. The students filed in and took over the corridors and offices, and the VC’s office. Our office was situated at the end of the corridor and Pam Bate and I and two other women locked ourselves in. The men all seem to have escaped! We hoped for a rescue. (Read more...)
Pat Venables, 1969 –1991, initially as Filing Clerk, then in the Postgraduate Office.

Professor Shercliff told me he was impressed by the statement in my RAF Service and Release Book which said ‘He has shown an aptitude to control subordinates whilst employed on instructional duty’. I became one of the University’s first appointments in the Engineering Department, before the University got its Charter.
Alf Webb (‘Webby’)

I remember going for my interview in February 1978. It was snowy and the car broke down. I had to walk two miles and arrived at the Library like a wet snowman. They made me very welcome and I dried off. I got the job.

Other memories: Tiles falling off the Library building, the scaffolding and wind howling through the double glazing. At dinner times on main campus I went on walks, listened to concerts, played squash, badminton, and croquet, and went swimming. For 20 years I really enjoyed working at the library. It was never the same at Westwood Print Services.
Tony Irish, Library 1978-1996, Westwood 1996-2000

My memories will be posted separately, along with those from other members of the Retired Staff Association. This message is for any retired staff member who did not receive information about the RSA in their 'retirement pack' from the University. We welcome new members. Further information from our Membership Secretary, Madeline Larcombe, 13 Alpine Court, Lower Ladyes Hill, Kenilworth CV8 2QB
Margaret Wallis - 1978-1999

I was amazed to open the 40th anniversary edition of Warwick Magazine and find on page 9 a photograph of me taken 40 years ago. I thought you might be interested to know who the anonymous reader was!

I was then 20 and a library assistant and I do vaguely remember the university photographer, Tony Whitehead, taking the shot. I had worked in the library while it was based in the huts and remember Jack Butterworth and Christopher Zeeman clearly. I remember packing up books for transportation- firstly to the east site library and then to the current library on the central campus.

I left the main library when I had children but returned to work in the Math Institute library, then on the east site. I eventually did a degree in English at Warwick, this must be my 25th anniversary year , and 5 years ago did an MA in Gender, literature and modernity (GLM) again at Warwick.

I still live locally so use the Arts Centre and bookshop and have attended some continuing education courses. Warwick has been such an influential part of my life and I'm very grateful for all the opportunities it gave me.
Anne Trentham

In the early days at East Site, during an occupation another secretary and I were trapped in an office by densely packed students in the corridor outside. To exit our office were were advised to climb out through the top part of the office window. The only way to do this was to climb out tail-first! The press, gathered outside, were ready to take pictures until Col Robert Hornby threatened anyone who took pictures. I don’t remember what the threat was but there weren’t any embarrassing photos in the papers that evening. Not funny at the time but I can chuckle about it now.
Sheila Barwick (previously Williams), Secretary, Steward’s Office, 1970-71

I was the first secretary in the School of Engineering Science and worked for Arthur Shercliff. Our offices were in the bedrooms of 108 Kenilworth Road, next door to the Vice-Chancellor's Lodge; Engineering was upstairs and Molecular Sciences downstairs. All the administrative departments were at what became known as East Site. There were no catering facilities on campus and a room was set aside for us at the Phantom Coach. In early 1965 we moved to a hut on Gibbet Hill and another hut housed the new refectory. I did not stay long enough to move to the permanent building on the main campus as I was expecting twins. When I returned to the University in 1975, to work in the Registry, it was a very different place.
Jean Norman 1964/5 and 1975 - 1999

The early degree ceremonies in Coventry Cathedral were memorable. In 1968, after Yehudi Menuhin was given his honorary degree he was led off to the vestry to practice his customary yoga before returning to play the violin by way of thanks. On another occasion, as the academic staff in regalia processed through an exhibition of modern sculpture in the ruined old cathedral, the tourists turned somersaults trying to capture it all on film.
Henry Cohn, History 1967-2003

I grew up in Canley and have vague memories of this area before the University was built. My older brothers and sisters would take me scrumping with them around the area and they would also do potato picking on the local farms. I remember also the early years of the University and seeing it expand. I never dreamed that I would end up as a lecturer here - for the youngest child of 7, on a council estate, whose family mostly worked in the car factories, the University was like another world. I believe that has changed a lot.
Ruth Louise Cherrington, CTCCS

The original idea was to lead with people rather than an Academic Plan – create a plan around them. We picked good people at the professional level and were successful in growing our own as well. We appointed a lot of talented young people, paid them well and gave generous study leave to encourage growth.
Mike Shattock, Registrar 1983-1999

Warwick looked an exciting sort of place – the senior staff were of a great quality. (Jack) Butterworth picked founding fathers he thought could do something special – said, there’s a department, build it how you want and I’ll leave you alone. The core values of the University have become widespread across the University sector – they were fresh and exciting.
Terry Kemp, Chemistry