Looking back: 60 years since St Martin's College in Lancaster first opened its doors

As redevelopment work continues on the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus, staff are preparing to mark the 60th anniversary of the first student intake.

The inaugural Lancaster Alumni Open Day takes place this August when former students will be welcomed back for a special celebration.

The Bowerham Road campus was originally home to St Martin’s College which officially opened on the site of the former King’s Own Regiment barracks on September 23, 1964 with 89 students and 13 staff headed by principal, Dr Hugh Pollard.

Three years later, the Church of England teacher training college welcomed its first royal visitor – Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

St Martin’s College operated for 43 years before gaining degree awarding powers and merging with Cumbria Institute of the Arts and the University of Central Lancashire’s Cumbria sites to form the University of Cumbria.

All Lancaster alumni and former staff are welcome to the anniversary event on August 31 whether their connection is with the college or university and whether they were among the 1964 intake or studied on campus just last year.

The free event will include informal guided tours, memorabilia and old photos, and a chance to meet current staff and students.

It’s also an opportunity to discover future plans for the campus currently being redeveloped as part of the university’s Towards 2030 strategic plan.

Part of the campus has been sold to Progress Housing Group, one of the country’s leading supported living providers for people with autism and learning disabilities.

They are building an extra care facility on the site which is due for completion next May. Among the buildings which have now been demolished to make way for this facility are three halls of residence, the Black Box Theatre, and the old dining hall and kitchen.

Refurbishment of some existing buildings which will be part of the extra care facility is due for completion this month.

Phase two of the strategic plan involves building two-storey supported living apartments on the former tennis courts.

As yet, there are no firm dates for when phase three, which includes the demolition of the landmark nine-storey William Thompson building, will happen.

More than 100 people have already reserved their places at the Open Day. Pre-booking is essential at either [email protected] or Lancaster Alumni Open Day 31 August 2024 (123formbuilder.com).