Freshers Week


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Freshers Week

21 Sep 2020 7:42PM   Views : 412 Unique : 279

It's that time of year when students arrive at university. Especially as the Covid-19 pandemic has been a curved ball this year I'd recommend people make a historical record.

I doubt many people recorded any, or much, of their initial time at university. Until that is, in recent times with the growth of social media and camera phones. Go back a few years or more and there's much less that's been left to posterity. Perhaps for some that's welcome, especially if you're an MP for example.

High jinks aside, it's the normal and everyday that many of us look back on and where memories are uncovered, that provide contrasts and similarities across generations and records of change across a campus.


On going through my archives I came across a few images from Freshers Week at Nottingham University in October 1983. The images shown here are the student society stalls in Portland Building (or PB as it was referred to), the location of cafes, the bookshop and events rooms. And a bar. The negatives have lost some colour, though I don't recall the original prints being particularly vibrant. Later negatives, and my colour transparencies are still good. For the technically minded, the scans needed different colour adjustments for casts in the shadows, mid-tones and highlights. They may not be completely 'accurate' but there wasn't a whole lot to work with.


The film used here was the latest technology from Kodak, VR 1000 film. While such an ISO is very pedestrian these days, it was ten times faster than the film usually bought and two and a half times faster than the standard fast film. It used tabular shaped or T-grain silver halide crystals for finer grain and greater light sensitivity and had been introduced to the market the previous year at Photokina. It wasn't long before most films used this technology. Looking at these images you'd be forgiven for thinking 'fine grain?'. Remember, the Falklands War took place just a couple of years before, and the Miner's Strike and Mikhail Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika had yet to happen.


The first image shows the Photo Soc stall (and the only one appearing to do any business!). I had to take a picture of that. They met once a month and put on a number of interesting talks. They had a darkroom for hire and you can just see an enlarger on the table. They had a number of lenses for hire including a 28 mm (wow that's wide) and a 300 mm telephoto. That doesn't sound a lot today but it was good for the time and don't forget many students wouldn't have had much of a personal collection. The lenses were all Tamron Adaptall-2 models which meant that it didn't matter what camera model you had all the lenses would fit via a relevant adaptor. Ingenious, but then everything was mechanical.

In the image below you can see the Audio Soc stall with some sponsorship from Superfi in Nottingham city centre. At the far end is the Tech Committee who were responsible for rigging the PA for bands and Hall events. If you fancied being a roadie, there was your opportunity.


These images have not seen the light of day in a long time and while I wish I had taken more I'm glad I took some.

All text and images Keith Rowley 2020

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