Our Centenary Year

Civil & Structural Engineering

Rag Week M1 Motorway

A story about Rag from, I think 1964 and I believe it to be true, that students painted a pedestrian crossing on the newly opened M1 Motorway to celebrate Rag Week - not me!!

Another memory that comes to mind relates to Joe's cafe - the greasy spoon cafe at the back of the department. Food hygiene was not high on Joe's list of priorities and his famous roast beef and veg could challenge even an engineer's cast-iron constitution, cold sliced beef heated by immersion in a bubbling tray of gravy, made, it would seem, from Bisto and grease!! Marge's outside Graves Hall was similarly cavalier and her pie and baked beans will long stay in my memory as does the all-pervading smell of deep fat frying - impossible to get out of clothes or hair for days afterwards.

And of course there was the Raven - pub of choice for all Engineers. 1/8d a pint although in those days we didn't drink much - couldn't afford it. I spent all my first term's grant on a Lambretta scooter to enable me to get from my home in Portsmouth to Sheffield with all my worldly goods on the back.

One Christmas I was travelling home in freezing weather and in those days the Derby ring road was one roundabout after another. I was so cold that my brain and feet could not communicate and slowing at a roundabout I needed to put my foot down - it didn't happen and I toppled sideways in an inglorious heap much to the amusement of friends Will and Geoff who were in a lovely warm car in front of me. And then there was the time I was summonsed to see the Bursar(?) of Halifax Hall - all female at the time, for parking the three-wheeler that I graduated to - slightly warmer than a Lambretta but twice as unreliable, in their bike sheds. It had broken down yet again and I managed to get it somehow into the bike sheds between Halifax and Earnshaw, where I was. This was not appreciated and I had to argue my case with the rightly peeved Halifax top brass. No cars allowed in the bike sheds - it’s not a car it’s a three-wheeler - a picky little point but we got on quite well and the Berkley stayed in the shed until I managed to get it to my then-girlfriend's house in one of the leafy suburbs where it stayed for a while until Pip's dad exerted parental pressure and it was ejected after dropping oil all over their drive as I struggled to rebuild the gearbox.