Film ID:
YFA 5826

A CENTURY AT LEEDS

1975

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a Yorkshire Television documentary, first broadcast 28 August 1975, which marks the centenary of Leeds University, written and presented by one of its esteemed graduates, Richard Hoggart.   Using interviews with students, alumni, and some of the major players at the University, Hoggart situates the University within its historical and social context and examines some of the issues facing universities in the 1970s.  He particularly focuses on the relationship that the University has to the wider community in Leeds.

The film begins with Richard Hoggart speaking to the camera in front of his old elementary school in Huggate, Jack Lane.  He explains that he was born and brought up in the area and later went on to attend the nearby Grammar School and Leeds University, to which he won scholarships.  He is then seen standing in front of the Frank Parkinson building where he talks about Frank Parkinson and his donation to the University.  Hoggart then gives a brief history of the University, showing an image of the original building on Cookridge Street.  Other parts of the University are shown, along with several pubs to accompany a song by Jake Thackray: ‘The Skylark’, ‘The Ship’, ‘The Fenton’.

Hoggart interviews the Shakespeare scholar Professor Kenneth Moore and Professor Roy Shaw, Secretary General of the Arts Council, both of whom give anecdotes of their time at Leeds.  He then interviews Arthur Kettle, an ex-student who went to Leeds as an ex-serviceman after the Second World War.  Then, walking along the long corridor to the Stoner building, he states several facts about the University:  that the University has the largest unitary campus in the UK, and that since the end of the war government funding for universities has gone up 240 times.  The University now has 9,000 students, with now 90% of those coming from outside of Leeds, a reversal of how it was when he was a student there in the 1930s.  It also has 2,000 lecturers and 80-90 departments.  He gives an overview of some of the more rare subjects that the University covers.

There is film of students at leisure in the sun, accompanied by Jake Thackray’s song.  Hoggart interviews Professor Dugdale regarding developments in the sciences, and Brad Imray on the quality of research, and how the University used to practice what he terms “left to right” teaching, where the students passively take notes.  There is a discussion with several of the staff about the standard of teaching, and the recruitment of lecturers with good communication skills.  He then talks with John Silkin, a London builder and poet, who relates his experiences of coming to Leeds in his late 20s, talking about how friendly he found the people of Leeds, and the sense of community.  Hoggart then talks to another ex-student, a woman, who speaks about the advantages of being a mature student. 

The film returns to the interview with Roy Shaw, who states that the University failed to be a properly civic institution, cut off from the Leeds community, as exemplified by what he took to be the elitism of the Rag Week, accompanied by archive film of a Rag Day procession showing students mimicking racist stereotypical ideas of Africans.  There is more film of students in the sun, and Hoggart chats with several of them sat on the grass.  They discuss their connection with the city, stating that there is so much to do at the University that they don’t have much to do with the wider community, other than go to the ‘student pubs’.  They also talk about the widespread image of students, and Hoggart points out that they are all well-kept, and so don’t fit that image.

Hoggart then interviews Edward Boyle, the former Minister of Education for the Tories in the 1960s, and now the Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University, in his office.  They talk about the importance of the University to the city and its relation to the nearby Leeds College.  Hoggart sums up by saying that he believes that the relations between the two institutions, maintaining their separate identities, will be a good one, and wishing the University well for the future.