Mary Trevelyan: From Child to Mother on Page Turners

The second instalment of digitized Trevelyan family albums is now available on Page Turners. A brief introduction to this resource and the Trevelyan albums was given in our launch post last month. We’re happy to say that a further three albums have now gone live, along with contextual information which allows you to search for individuals, places, or learn more about the images.

This group includes the first (although not the earliest) volume in the collection – Volume One. Begun in 1894, when Mary Katharine Trevelyan [Molly] was 13 or 14 years old, it gives a valuable insight into her life before her marriage to Charles Philips Trevelyan. Born into the Bell family, wealthy industrialists in Middlesbrough, Molly’s father Sir Hugh Bell had joined the family firm, becoming director of the Bell Brothers’ steelworks in the town. Her mother, Florence Bell nee Olliffe was an author and playwright. Her family’s is perhaps most famously known for her half-sister Gertrude Bell, the archaeologist and diplomat.

Picture of Molly by Lilian Bell, 1894 (CPT/PA/1)

Picture of Molly by Lilian Bell, 1894 (CPT/PA/1)

In the seven years covered by the album we see Molly and her extended family relaxing at properties in Red Car, Mount Grace and Sloane Street, London. There are also souvenirs from time spent in Germany in 1900, including concert programmes from Weimar and Berlin. The final few pages give an inkling of the following volumes’ content, as pictures from a visit to Wallington feature, with photographs of the impressive great hall and the exterior, as well as picnics with her future husband Charles on the estate which they would eventually manage together.

Great Hall at Wallington, 1903 (CPT/PA/1)

Great Hall at Wallington, 1903 (CPT/PA/1)

Volume three, which also appears in this group, shows the early years of Molly and Charles’ married life together (1904-1906). At this point, their lives were split between Cambo House on the Wallington Estate, and Great College Street, Westminster, this album begins with many photographs of the couples’ friends, visits to family at Stocks House (the childhood home of Charles’ sister in law Janet Trevelyan nee Ward), Welcombe (a second home of Charles’ parents George Otto and Lady Caroline Trevelyan) and Rounton Grange (the Bell family home, recently inherited by Molly’s parents). Their love of animals is evident in the frequent photographs of cats and dogs, which appear alongside newspaper cuttings discussing Charles’ career as Liberal Member of Parliament for the Elland constituency in Yorkshire. The album ends with the birth of their eldest child (and first of seven), Pauline Trevelyan (later, Pauline Dower).

Universities at War Guest Blog #4

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Hello and welcome to another instalment of the Universities at War Blog. In the last few entries school magazines were used to try and recreate the life history of some of our 12 soldiers, specifically their time at Armstrong college. However now the focus will move to a more broad snapshot of their lives.  This week I have looked at the North East War Memorials Project website.

William Stanley Wylie

William Wylie - Image from the Shields Gazette, 1st July 1915

William Wylie – Image from the Shields Gazette, 1st July 1915

William was born in 1891 in South Shields. He was the only son of marine engineer, Edward Wylie, and his wife, Amy. He was educated at Westoe Secondary School, Harton, South Shields from the age of 12, and left in December, 1906, only to return the following September for a further two years, leaving in 1909 at the age of 18 to attend Armstrong College. He went back to Westoe Secondary School to work as a teacher, as well as Dean Road Boys’ School, again in South Shields.

William was gazetted as Second Lieutenant to the York and Lancaster Regiment, 3rd Battalion on 27th October 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant in March 1915. While attached to the 1st Battalion in Belgium in May 1915, William went missing near the town of Hooge. He was later reported as killed, having died of his wounds on 10th May 1915 aged 24.

The North East War Memorial Project aims to record every War Memorial located between the River Tweed and the River Tees.  As they say on their site, “Our local War Memorials remind us of what happened and the consequences of these conflicts for many people in the region.  They tell the story of those who fought, those who died, and those left behind to cope with the confusion which followed”

The site records four local memorials to Wylie:

  • A stained glass window on St Mark’s church in South Shields
  • A Plaque in Dean Road Boy’s School
  • A plaque in South Shields Boy’s High school
  • A plaque from Westoe Secondary School (now installed in Harton Technology College)

Of these only the plaque now installed in Harton Technology College remains.

Wylie’s full details, including some pictures of local memorials bearing his name, can be seen on his NEWMP profile page.

Universities at War Guest Blog #3

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Picking up from where things were left last week here are some new stories as reported by school magazines.

Joseph Benjamin Wright

Sadly, details of Joseph’s college exploits seem to be limited, he was a member of the Officer Training Core and achieved the first of two qualification certificates, certificate A in March 1911. He was tragically killed in 1916.

It is a strange coincidence that Joseph and William Stanley Wylie were both awarded the same certificate at the same presentation ceremony. Thus, it is probable that two of our soldiers knew one another and were possibly even friends.

Taken from Newcastle University Library Archive: nua-3-2-northerner-dec1917-pg5

Taken from Newcastle University Library Archive: nua-3-2-northerner-dec1917-pg5

Samuel Walton White

Samuel studied in the Arts Department in Newcastle in 1915 where he met Lieutenant J.H Feggetter, a very close friend. He joined the he 26th N.F Irish and went to serve in France in July 1916. Following this he joined the 13th N.F as a second lieutenant and died shortly after.

Feggetter later went on to write an obituary for White when he was killed on June 16th 1917. The end of any life is an occasion for sadness but the sense of melancholy was made far more profound in this case upon the realisation that White died close to his birthday and lived to be just 20. It is reported that he met this sad fate with a company of six other men who were machine gunned down while penetrating German barbed wire.

William Gladstone Wylie

Wylie was awarded a bar to the military cross in 1918 for his bravery on the battlefield when he transported ammunition to the frontline in a 27 and ½ hour operation while under heavy artillery fire which killed many of the other men in his company. Wylie’s courage was noted in two separate dispatches. However, he sadly died in 1918 and is described as giving his life for his country.


More information on the Universities at War project, as well as the stories uncovered by our researchers so far, can be seen at www.universitiesatwar.org.uk.

Universities at War Guest Blog #2

Image

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


For the first two weeks of this project I spent time sifting through The Northerner, the student magazine of Armstrong College. The years 1908 to 1919 were my chosen sample as I noted that many of the previously listed soldiers were likely to have either studied or taught at the University during this time. While this source was somewhat time consuming to use effectively it was really rewarding.

George Trevor William’s story

nua-13-2-northerner-nov1908-p22

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-nov1908-p22

George Trevor Williams was made president of the student’s Representative Council in 1908.  In addition to this George was also a member of both the hockey team and committee. There are two match reports in which George is mentioned. He played as a forward in a match against Garrison at the barracks and scored, Armstrong College won 2-1 as a result of his efforts.  He also played against Durham West End however Durham won 4-0. Clearly George was a keen sportsman and heavily involved in life at Armstrong college.

Image taken from Newcastle University Archives Ref:nua-13-2-northerner-nov1908-p28

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-nov1908-p28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-nov1909-p7-fellowship

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-nov1909-p7-fellowship

In November 1909 George was given a fellowship and was described as ‘a well-known student of the college’.

 

 

George was honoured for giving his life in the service of his country. The more research is done into George’s story the more tragic his death in 1918 seems, an energetic young man and pillar of Armstrong College whose life was sadly cut short.

Image from Newcastle University archives, Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-dec1918-p5

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-dec1918-p5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Edward White’s story

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-may1910-p124-artdeptnotes

Image from Newcastle University archives Ref: nua-13-2-northerner-may1910-p124-artdeptnotes

Robert Edward White studied Art at Armstrong College in 1910. During his time at Newcastle Robert made valuable contributions to Armstrong college’s exhibitions specifically in embroidery and poster sections. There is an Art Departmental note from 1910 in which his composition is singled out for praise, the piece in question was called ‘Spring’ and ‘attracted attention’ as the ‘disposition of drapery and general arrangement was good’. The loss of such a skilled artist must have been sorely felt following his death 1915.

 

 


More information on the Universities at War project, as well as the stories uncovered by our researchers so far, can be seen at www.universitiesatwar.org.uk.

Special Guest Blog: Courier 1962-69, The Golden Years

This is the third installment in our Courier Special Collections Guest blog series. You can see the other two installments here; ‘1948-55 the early years‘ and ‘Changing Directions 1955-62‘.


1962-69 The Golden Years

'Great Day for Freedom Fighter', Martin Luther King is given an honorary degree at Newcastle University, 15th November 1967

‘Great Day for Freedom Fighter’, Martin Luther King received an honorary degree at Newcastle University, 15th November 1967

By the early 1960s the wind of change was blowing across the city. King’s College won independence from Durham to become the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963, a modern campus was constructed around the old redbrick buildings, and in 1962 the Courier boldly proclaimed that “for the first time in its history” it looked “something like a newspaper”.

'University Bill is Reprieved', 31st January 1963

‘University Bill is Reprieved’, 31st January 1963

A new masthead and a greater use of photography, along with headlines that were much bolder in both size and statement, gave the paper a much more exciting appearance. The paper also reverted to its traditional Thursday publication day, and in 1964 began to experiment with occasional 12-page issues.

'It's Earp for President', example of the Courier with increased use of photography, 9th May 1963

‘It’s Earp for President’, example of the Courier with increased use of photography, 9th May 1963

There was little space in the new-look Courier for culture, and the arts reviews that had dominated the paper in the 1950s virtually disappeared, except for several rather weighty features on the University’s architectural wonders, new and old. After a few months the arts began to creep back in, and a short “What’s On” listings panel gradually expanded into a full page of film and theatre reviews.

The focus after 1962 was undeniably on news, however. The Courier began to conduct more investigations and campaigns, establishing itself as a mouthpiece for students. In 1968 the paper ran a series of features on the global student movement, and throughout the 1960s the paper held the Union, SRC and the University to account over issues such as accommodation and rent levels. Satire and sarcasm crept into the paper through the long running features “Grey’s Column” and “Geordie’s Marra”, the latter written in a Geordie dialect.

Geordie's Marra, 6th December 1967

Geordie’s Marra, 6th December 1967

This more aggressive approach saw sales of the Courier increase, but also had its downsides. In 1964 editor Jeremy Norman was forced to leave the Courier under a cloud, after publishing an article criticising the actions of Newcastle’s NUS delegates at the NUS conference.

Criticism of Newcastle NUS delegates at the NUS conference, 26th November 1964

Criticism of Newcastle NUS delegates at the NUS conference, 26th November 1964

The SRC, who oversaw the delegation, tried to stop that week’s issue from being distributed, but after tense negotiations allowed the Courier to be sold after Courier staff had blacked out one particularly disagreeable paragraph, by hand, on every single issue. The Courier retaliated through a statement in the following issue, but the new editor, Martin Pinder, later decided to apologise to the SRC.

'Chaos and heated discussion over impounded Courier', 3rd December 1964

‘Chaos and heated discussion over impounded Courier’, 3rd December 1964

Even greater scandal hit the Courier the following year, when the Courier reported the drunken antics of a member of the SRC executive, both as news articles and, less sympathetically, through Grey’s Column and Geordie’s Marra. The student demanded a retraction in the following week’s Courier, and while Ivan Dunn, the editor, did publish a short apology, this was not considered satisfactory by the SRC. Dunn’s defiant attitude, which included a lengthy editorial in the Courier complaining about the SRC’s interference, led to his dismissal by the SRC, with one of the news editors then resigning in protest.

Dunn’s dismissal marked a low point in the relationship between the Courier and the SRC, but the paper itself continued to perform well throughout the 1960s, with sales reaching record levels. Recipes and pin-up pictures of “photogenic freshers” became common, and the paper began to expand its focus beyond the University to include the city of Newcastle. One issue in November 1966 was sold to local residents as an experiment, and in 1967 an “external news” page was introduced, collecting news from local colleges. 1967 also saw the paper expand to 12 pages on a regular basis, and the Courier received praise, particularly for its features, at national student media awards.

Page includes Miss Photogenic Fresher, 10th May 1966

Page includes Miss Photogenic Fresher, 15th October 1966


The above content is taken from Courier alumni, Mark Sleightholm’s Courier History site and is interspersed with images from the Courier Archive online website. Mark has begun documenting the history of Newcastle University’s Courier student newspaper, which gives a fascinating insight into reporting trends, recurrent stories and issues, and profiles of the different sections through the ages.

Universities at War Guest Blog #1

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Hello, this will be the first in a series of posts surrounding the Universities at War project, a HLF funded volunteer project hosted by the Special Collections Department in the Philip Robinson University Library. The aim of the project is to research and document aspects of the life history of former students and staff at Newcastle University who fought and died in the First World War. In the coming weeks, I hope to bring you a series of interesting stories around 12 individuals (see below for names) who have been lost in the pages of history and rediscover their forgotten pasts.

  • E. White
  • Samuel S. White
  • Robert Edward White
  • Samuel Walton White
  • George Trevor Williams
  • Charles James Wright
  • Joseph Benjamin Wright
  • William Gladstone Wylie
  • William Stanley Wylie
  • Arthur Cecil Young
  • Cyril Rutherford Moffat Young
  • John Young

More information on the Universities at War project, as well as the stories uncovered by our researchers so far, can be seen at www.universitiesatwar.org.uk.

Page Turners

Special Collections are pleased to announce the launch of their new online resource Page Turners. Using Turning the Pages software, Page Turners allows us to make some of the highlights of the bound volumes within our collections available within your browser. We’ve also added some information about the items to help with their interpretation. This post is to give you a brief overview of the first items we’ve made available, and consider how we might continue to make use of it to share our collections with you.

Petre’s Gradual is a 14th Century manuscript book containing ecclesiastical chants for services throughout the year. Very few graduals survive in Britain, with many having been destroyed during the Reformation. Early copies of this book had existed in the British Library, however the volume itself had been thought lost. It had in fact been held securely within Special Collections since the 1990s as part of a bequest from antiquarian book sellers Marjorie and Philip Robinson (after whom two of our library buildings are named). The volume then caught the eye of Dr Magnus Williamson during a teaching session in 2014. Since its rediscovery, the 500 year old polyphonic music it contains has been brought back to life with public performances. By featuring the Gradual on Page Turners, it can be appreciated, studied and used by scholars, musicians and any other interested parties, not just in Newcastle, but throughout the world.

Page from Petre's Gradual (ROB 405) 1

Page from Petre’s Gradual (ROB 405) 1

The second item now available leaps forward in time to the twentieth century. In 1914, Newcastle University’s Armstrong College was requisitioned for use as the 1st Northern General Hospital. During its lifetime, the hospital treated over 40,000 wounded servicemen. One of the individuals tasked with requisitioning the building, and contributing to its operation was Professor of Surgery Frederick Charles Pybus. The University holds Pybus’ archive of personal papers, and these include a volume listing the operations he performed while working at the 1st Northern. Based in Ward C, which is now the Hatton Gallery, the book lists over 1000 operations performed by Pybus. Now available on Page Turners, this resource will not only aid historians studying the war, the hospital or the University, but may also provide valuable information for family history researchers, tracing the movements of individual soldiers during the conflict.

Ward C Surgical Team (FP/1/3/9) 1

Ward C Surgical Team (FP/1/3/9) 1

The final item selected to launch Page Turners is actually the first instalment of an ongoing project. The University has held the personal papers of four generations of the Trevelyan family of Wallington since the 1960s. One of the most prominent members of the family was Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan (1870-1958). A Liberal then later Labour M.P., Sir Charles was the last of the Trevelyan Baronets to live on the family estate at Wallington and his Socialist beliefs led him to donate the estate to the National Trust in the 1930s. One of the most engaging areas of the Trevelyan archives is a collection of 39 photograph albums and scrapbooks created by Charles and his wife Lady Mary Katharine Trevelyan nee Bell [Molly] (daughter of industrialist Sir Hugh Bell and half-sister of Gertrude Bell). The albums reveal an intimate picture of Charles and Molly’s family life at Wallington and feature the couple’s six children, Pauline, George, Kitty, Marjorie, Patricia and Geoffrey. The albums have previously inspired an exhibition at the library, and in this first instalment, three volumes are being made available – Volume 8 (1917-1918), Volume 9 (1919-1921) and Volume 12 (1925). The family albums provide a captivating insight into the life of a landed, if somewhat unconventional family, from the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, through both World Wars, to the early 1960s.

Page from Volume 12 (CPT/PA/11) 1

Page from Volume 12 (CPT/PA/11) 1

Page Turners gives us a fantastic opportunity to share unique items such as these from within our collections in a new way. We hope that you’ll enjoy browsing the materials available. If you have any comments about Page Turners and the items featured, or any suggestions of what you’d like to see next, do please get in touch.

Universities at War

Over the last two years, a team of volunteers have been using the University Archives to tell the stories of the staff and students from Newcastle University who fought and died in the First World War.

Searching through class lists, course handbooks, registration documents, graduation lists and student magazines, they have slowly pieced together the lives of those who appeared simply as a list of names on our campus war memorials.

These books and ledgers, with plain covers, and lists of information, perhaps wouldn’t normally appear in our Treasures of the Month feature.  But the power of archive documents often lies in seemingly uninspiring lists.  Those lists of names or numbers which can, once you start looking, shine a light on a moment in history, solve a mystery, start a new mystery, be really funny, or heartbreakingly sad.

You can see all of the data gathered so far on the project’s website: www.universitiesatwar.org.uk

And from next week one of our student volunteers, Jake Wall, will be sending us guest blog posts about the stories he uncovers as part of his placement with us.

But for now, this is just a little tribute to those books of lists!

Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-15-1-roll-of-service

Roll of Service Book: Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-15-1-roll-of-service

This is the place where all our volunteers start – the Roll of Service. This small and unassuming book lists all those who fought in the First World War, and marks the fallen with a black cross, together with brief military details. From this basic information our volunteers start to follow the leads and try to piece together the story of a fallen serviceman.


Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-1-4-1-armstrong-calendar-p485

College Calendars: Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-1-4-1-armstrong-calendar-p485

The Armstrong and Medical Calendars hold a wealth of information about a serviceman’s life whilst he was a student (or member of staff) at the University. Containing student lists, staff lists, course notes, teaching schedules, exam schedules, building maps, and so many other things, they were intended to hold everything a student would need to know for the year.

Of course, for our volunteers, finding out exactly which years a serviceman studied with us is the hard bit. Much painstaking reading of class lists can sometimes be necessary until finally the name you are looking for magically appears.

This list however shows one other impact of the war. Although both Armstrong College and the Medical College already offered places to women before the war, the list here shows how high a proportion of places were taken by women once the War had started.


Newcastle University Archive, at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua13-1-gazette-p139

An obituary in the student Gazette: Newcastle University Archive,s at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua13-1-gazette-p139

Often the most heart breaking pieces of the story to read will be the serviceman’s obituary. These obituaries, published in the student journals of the time, were often written by fellow students who had known them during their time at the University.

They are of course desperately sad, but the desire of these men’s fellow students to honour their memory is obvious, and we hope that one hundred years later we are continuing this work.

America enters World War One

6th April 2017 marks the centenary of America entering World War I. Until this point President Woodrow Wilson had outwardly shown a neutral stance whilst allowing the banks to make loans to Britain and France. At this point the majority of American citizens were of European origin, descendants of immigrants who were of previous generations who showed little interest in the war.

However, early in 1917 two major events occurred leading President Wilson to break off diplomatic relations with Germany in the first instance, and made a speech to Congress on the 2nd April (copy of speech available at WR 163 ‘America and Freedom being the statements of President Wilson on the War with a Preface by Rt. Hon. Viscount Grey’).

America declared war on Germany four days later.

The first event which led to this was the increased German aggression shown over the Atlantic. Here, all boats heading towards Europe, no matter the nationality or purpose of vessel, were targets for sinking by U-boats.

The second was the incident of the Zimmermann telegram – a communication from Germany to Mexico which proposed a military alliance between the two countries should America join the War. However, this telegram was intercepted by British intelligence.

At the same time in Europe, there were contrasting emotions from two brothers towards the war and America’s involvement.

George Macaulay Trevelyan was based in Italy commanding an ambulance unit for the British Red Cross, and in a letter to his father he expressed his feelings on America entering the war.

Above extracts are taken from a letter in the George Otto Trevelyan Archive GOT 151/1/1 – GOT 151/1/2

Letter from the George Otto Trevelyan Archive GOT 151/1/1 – GOT 151/1/2

SSir!

 I am going out to shake the hand of an American citizen, the first I can find in this Eternal City, on the occasion of his country breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany.

I shall also leave my card at the American Embassy.

My only regret is that by a strange chance I was in New York during the Italians Days? of May 1915 and in Rome during the present American crisis.

I saw our Ambassador yesterday and he told me that he felt sure the war would not go on till next year; he evidently thought the germans were in a bad way unless their submarine campaign can force us to compromise with them. If the war does end this year the affairs of our unit on which H. E. puts a high value, will be relatively easy.

I return to the front tomorrow

Your affectionate son

George Trevelyan
(Extract from GOT 151)

On the other hand, George’s brother Charles Philips Trevelyan, Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education was against the war.  He had already resigned his post and been a founder member of the Union of Democratic Control – a pressure group containing MPs from both the Liberal and Labour parties and included various influential figures such as author Norman Angell and journalist E. D. Morel. They were against conscription, and wanted more negotiations.

During a speech at Bradford, Charles spoke about the number of casualties and America’s position in the war at that time. Three months later at Hammersmith he spoke about America’s entry into the war.

Above extracts are taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/14 - CPT 46/15

Notes for a speech from Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/14 – CPT 46/15

Word peace has been spoken
been for many days and months
That is the beginning of the end – 

Only question whether several millions more men killed or maimed before national governments begin negotiations.
……………………..
Present situation
Great change in last month
Began with President Wilson asking belligerents to state terms.
When I think of the abuse levelled against me and my friends –

For 18 months demanding negotiations- negotiated note a dictated pence –
For 18 months for government to state terms.

Cannot ignore President Wilson – voice reverberates throughout world – as the megaphone of will of peaceful millions of America.
(Extracts from CPT 46/14 – CPT 46/15)

At the time of this speech there were eight million dead as a result of the war.

Extract taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/56

Extract taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entry of America 
Strike member U.D.C right way and wrong way to go to war. Pres. Wilson made nation confidant – every step of policy overt – acted slowly and deliberately laying down his policy in magnificent declarations. Soberly and with full knowledge. 

Contrast to every European nation. The victim and tool of secret coteries of Kings – ministers- or bureaucrats.

Trevelyan then continues about America bringing a “Breath of healthy idealism to blow away the over…..? ambitions overlaid the finer of our national objects” and wanting nothing from the War.

Exactly the same things in mind as in his previous utterances”. We of U.D.C. cannot ask for peace on better terms because what we have advocated for two years”
(Extracts from CPT 46/56)

With America’s involvement the war lasted another 19 months, and had been dubbed the war to end all wars. However, Charles Philips Trevelyan’s anti-war stance contributed to his rejection from his constituency and he lost his seat in 1918. Four years later, after changing his political allegiance to the Labour Party, he became M.P. for Newcastle Central becoming President of the Board of Education in 1924. The Union of Democratic Control was eventually disbanded in the 1960s.

Special Guest Blog: Courier 1955-62, Changing Directions

This is the second installment in our Courier Special Collections Guest blog series. You can see the first, ‘1948-55 the early years’ here.


1955-62 Changing Directions

'Kings to Leave N.U.S', 12th May 1955

‘Kings to Leave N.U.S’, 12th May 1955

In 1955 the handover between editors was brought forward from summer to Easter, so that the outgoing editor could concentrate on their exams. It was also around this time that Monica Doughty joined the Courier as a permanent secretary, helping to provide stability to the paper during the frequent changes to the editorial team. Doughty organised the day-to-day running of the paper, while each editor shifted the overall tone and style of the paper to suit their own tastes. Brian Lloyd Davies, editor 1955-56, attracted controversy by his frequent use of the paper to publicise his own, left-wing, views.

Brian Lloyd as Courier editor, 27th October 1955

Brian Lloyd as Courier editor, 27th October 1955

His successor, Ramsey Rutherford, returned King’s Courier to a neutral position, being more interested in the arts and music than politics; he was described in the paper as a fan of “traditional jazz, modern jazz, classical music, opera, folk songs of all types, and modern ‘pops’.” The changeover of editors was a big event in the late 1950s, with each editor’s final issue including multiple tributes to their time with the Courier from other members of the team. Rutherford was followed by John McCormack, who continued the arts focus and non-confrontational tone.

'Courier-A Policy Statement' reviewing John McCormack, 8th May 1958

‘Courier-A Policy Statement’ reviewing John McCormack, 8th May 1958

In 1958, however, his successor, Brian Shallcross, shifted the focus to news. He redesigned the paper, introducing a new colour masthead, significantly more photographs, and large, tabloid-style headlines.

The King's Courier with the new colour masthead, 15th May 1958

The King’s Courier with the new colour masthead and tabloid style headlines, 15th May 1958

The stories were similarly daring, including a survey that revealed very few students knew who their elected student representatives were, and close scrutiny of a poorly-organised Rag Week.

'The End of Rag', 5th February 1959

‘The End of Rag’, 5th February 1959

Most of these changes were reversed once Shallcross left the paper, when it became known simply as Courier. As the new decade dawned the paper became a weekly publication, coming out every Wednesday during term time. The extra issues placed a greater demand on the editor, and at the end of 1960 it was agreed that editors should only serve half the year, with changeovers in December and at Easter.

The Courier‘s main competition during this period was the Wall News, posted on noticeboards in the Union and often a vehicle for gossip and scandal. The Wall News predated the Courier and survived well into the 1960s, with the relationship between the two publications occasionally descending into one or the other printing derogatory comments about their competitor.

Wall News complaint about the gossip, 8th May 1958

Wall News complaint about the gossip, 8th May 1958

The other significant publication at King’s College was the Northerner, a literary magazine founded in 1901 and published once or twice a year. Whilst never especially successful, the introduction of a 6d cover price in 1958 marked the beginning of the Northerner‘s decline, and by the early 1960s the publication faced major financial problems. A revamp in 1963 saw the Northerner printed on glossy paper and with a greater focus on design, but this was not enough to save the magazine and staff shortages and printing problems contributed to its decline in the mid 60s. Numerous attempts were made to revive it, as Package in 1968, Ashes in 1970, the New Northerner in 1972 and Five Seconds in 1973. None of these, nor more recent arts magazines such as Alliterati, established in 2006, lasted more than a few years.

Front cover of the first issue of the Northerner, 1st December 1916

Front cover of the first issue of the Northerner, 1st December 1916


The above content is taken from Courier alumni, Mark Sleightholm’s Courier History site and is interspersed with images from the Courier Archive online website. Mark has begun documenting the history of Newcastle University’s Courier student newspaper, which gives a fascinating insight into reporting trends, recurrent stories and issues, and profiles of the different sections through the ages.