Durham

The next place to visit on Down Memory Lane is Durham – where I was at University from 1974 to 1977. I was nominally attached to Van Mildert College but apart from staying in rooms there for the first year, I had little to do with the college. I spent more time working on the Durham Students Union entertainments, becoming social secretary for a year, but in fact a bit longer due to my predecessor needing to step aside a term or two early. I think the training on organising events (concerts and discos) was equally useful to the formal degree training in Zoology (with a year’s Psychology).

But first there was the small matter of getting over the Pennines from Newbiggin-on-Lune. As can be seen below, there were two long and fairly brutal climbs. The first starts at Brough in North Yorkshire and finishes at the boundary of County Durham. The climb was accompanied by the sound of heavy machine gun fire from the nearby army ranges! Prior to Brough, the roads went through 20 km of amazing upland scenery. A total of six vehicles passed me (regardless of direction) and I should think that I saw ten times that many curlews. Curlew calls are one of my global favourites – sadly they are long gone from the patch of rough wetland next to our house that is now being built upon. Maybe we should propose “Curlew Crescent” for one of the street names in memory of what was once there (along with Snipe Street).

It was sad to say goodbye to Anne who is doing more than her fair share of gardening while I am away
A welcome end to a long climb
This closure felt a bit more permanent – due to a bridge over the River Wear being declared unsafe.
The diversion away from the bridge was very poorly signed, and I ended up crossing this sheep field
and slogging along this muddy woodland track
I lived at 1 Homer Terrace in Neville’s Cross for two years
Van Mildert College lake now has toxic water warnings
The Van Mildert pond was used frequently in 1974 on birthdays and on other occasions
Once we were young!
A warm summer’s day at Van Mildert 1975

Among the events that were organised, partly outside the Student’s Union was an annual free festival, held on the banks of the River Wear – known as Domefest after the wooden domes that used to be assembled, led by the few that knew how to put the beams together.

Main stage
Three of those in this picture are still friends – Colin, Andrew and Dave.
The Domefest crowd – included partly because the man on the left has done very well for himself since – David Kershaw is now CEO of Saatchi and very senior on the Arsenal board (or at least was). He ran the advertising campaign to Remain in the EU, which sadly did not do as well as needed. I shared 1 Homer Terrace with him for a year but have since lost touch. Durham Castle and Cathedral can be made out in the background.
Dunelm House, the home of Durham Students Union is a fairly brutalist concrete building that is Grade 2 listed, much to the chagrin of the University who would probably like to develop this prime site beside the Wear for something more profitable.
The walls of the Events Office were covered in posters of concerts past. The central poster in this picture is probably rather historical. Curved Air contained two members of what became the Police, the support act that night was a fine local jazz-rock band called Last Exit, whose singer was a local teacher called Sting. I think this the first time they met.
Completely unsure why I was wearing a tie for this event…. get that shirt too. My “normal” attire has not changed – t-shirt.
Hi Lesley! (and Dave RIP)
And one for Big Dave on the decks (and Kate on Dave)
Friends move on and we all age, but the architectural core of Durham remains stunning

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