A group of former students visited Bangor University recently to celebrate 60 years since they first stayed at St. Mary’s college.

The thirteen former students, all attended St Mary’s Teacher Training College, which later became part of Bangor University.

The group of friends meet every year and to mark the 60th anniversary, they decided to visit Bangor. The friends spent time reminiscing and their stories would certainly shock the students of today!

10.30pm Curfew

The former students spoke of having to adhere to a 10.30pm curfew and the highlight of the week was a Wednesday afternoon showing of the film ‘Gone with the Wind’

The highlight of the weekend was a hot cocoa and an iced bun provided as a treat each Saturday evening at 9pm, but they also had to endure a compulsory singing session during their ‘free time’ on a Saturday morning!

The ‘girls’ as they still refer to each other, also shared stories of ‘rule infringements’ such as meeting boyfriends or attending out of bounds dance-halls, for example at ‘Jimmy’s’ Hops on Tuesdays & Thursday night, held in a wooden hut on Glanrafon Hill. Admission was ‘Sixpence’ to the well attended but strictly forbidden dance night!

Whilst in Bangor the group visited the newly renovated St Mary’s residential village, which gave them the opportunity to reflect on their own accommodation in Bangor. The group recalled what were called the ‘horse-boxes’, one large room sub-divided by tall wooden partitions to create around eight smaller bed-rooms. Some students lived in ‘digs’ with local families, but still had to make it up the hill for breakfast at 8.00am.

Sunday’s in Bangor

On a Sunday, there were eggs for breakfast, but could not to be enjoyed until the College Principal had taken Communion and said a Latin prayer before the meal. The highlight of the rest of Sunday would be a walk to Garth Pier, as everything else was closed on a Sunday!

One of the group, Barbara Davies said: “I loved it every minute of it, We had lectures all day every day and on Saturday morning, I was so happy here, our backgrounds were strict, we were war babies really.”

Anne Jones (Browning) said: “We were leaving home for a semi-protected environment, but we thought we had such freedom, I remember buying trousers or ‘trews’, and being told I couldn’t wear them out when I got home.”

Denise Shorthall (Wilson) was three years older than the others, having already been working for five years and living on a salary and so could afford a few hobbies. She was a pioneering young female climber, and it was recalled that she arrived in Bangor on a scooter, carrying skis and with a climbing rope around her body! Denise formed the first Climbing Club for women at St Mary’s, joining with the University Climbing and Mountaineering Club.

Similarly to many of Bangor University’s current students, Denise chose to study at Bangor because it also gave her access to the mountains and opportunities to follow the sports that she loved.

Alice Williams (now Milner), another member of the Climbing Club, and arranger of the reunion, explained that to go climbing necessitated catching the 8am bus to Bethesda and waking up the valley to the mountains and back on top of the days’ climb, carrying far heavier equipment and ropes, before, if they were lucky, catching the bus back to Bangor!