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Hi there, were you at St Mary’s in the 1980s?

I was, and I manage a Facebook group for Simmarians from that era. It’s an informal forum to share memories, photographs and news, and also a platform for reminiscing and general chit-chat. It also provides the chance to catch-up with old friends and acquaintances who people might have lost touch with. 

If you’d like to join us please do sign up on Facebook: 1980s Simmarians
Enda Mullen (1987-1990)

An autumn hello from the 1980s Simmarians Facebook group. 

Our numbers continue to grow with a grand total of 811 people now on board. As always the group continues to be a busy forum for sharing photographs and memories from college days and also enables old friends who might have lost touch to become reacquainted.

Since the last group update we have welcomed a second admin, in the shape of Liz Jones.
Liz has been a massive help to me in managing the group and helping to keep members engaged. As well as coming up with inspired posts, which get people talking and interacting, Liz has also added topics to a large number of posts, which will help people find something specific they may be looking for a lot more easily.

paupersballWe’ve had some fun threads recently, ranging from ‘do you remember your porters’ lodge number?’ to whether you were a Christmas Ball or Paupers’ Ball person. I don’t know whether the Paupers’ Ball is still a thing but back in the 1980s it offered an affordable alternative to the Christmas Ball. The events really were like chalk and cheese but the Paupers’ Ball, organised by the Chemistry Society, was hugely popular.

Unlike the Christmas Ball, where people dressed-up in their finery and danced to a big band in the Waldegrave Drawing Room, the Paupers’ Ball was fancy dress and held in the music block (well, the one I went to was). The thread saw some great Paupers’ Ball fancy dress photos, including some amazing home-made costumes. Angie McTreby’s home-made costumes were the stuff of legend - one of the best and most unusual seeing her dressed as a Tesco bag of shopping!

christmasballAnother post which really got people talking was about which hall/halls of residence you lived in.
As with all Facebook groups there are many members who take an avid interest but don’t necessarily post or comment. I met one such person recently who said they were most definitely in that category but they told me how much they loved the group. A hacking incident had led to them leaving Facebook and minded never to return but they rejoined purely for the 1980s Simmarians group.

As always, if you know people from the era who haven’t yet joined do please get them to sign-up. The group can be found here:

Enda Mullen

Summer’s greetings from the 1980s Simmarians Facebook group.

We’ve had quite a bit of activity in the group and some interesting posts during the month of May.

I’m wondering whether that might at least in part have been prompted by the abysmal weather.

When the weather is good people tend to be out and about enjoying the sunshine rather than interacting on their screens.

More sunshine and less social media I hear you say - and I have to agree, in theory at least.

In reality we’re always looking to expand the steadily growing 1980s Facebook group and want people to both sign-up and engage as much as possible.

Whether that involves sharing old photographs from the decade, or simply asking a question that gets people into a conversation, this is what the lifeblood of the group is ultimately all about.

Perhaps two of the best posts in recent weeks have been just that.

Jacquelineanne Earley asked which song, or songs, take people straight back to their time at Simms? For her it was The Only Way is Up by Yazz and the Nina Simone classic My Baby Just Cares For Me.

The question prompted a flurry of 1980s classics and some entertaining spin-off tales too.

Favourites included Hungry Heart, Come on Eileen, Down Under, In the Name of Love, Boys Don’t Cry, Kayleigh, Heaven is a Place on Earth, This Charming Man, Ride On Time and Fool’s Gold.

That is just a small smattering by the way of what would be a genuinely huge playlist.

Many suggestions were Freshers’ Week disco favourites, but not all were confined to the sounds emanating from the speakers in the SU Hall or the Refectory.

Other suggestions included some of the more risqué songs sung during drunken singalongs in the bar and at the other end of the spectrum the college folk group’s rendition of Here I Am Lord at evening mass every Sunday.

If you haven’t seen it check out the thread - it’s a fun read.

Arguably a slightly off-the-wall discussion ensued around the subject of Concorde, many remembering the supersonic airliner making a hell of a racket as it flew over on its morning flight - the college being right on the Heathrow Airport flight path.

Of course at this time of year - and June in particular - one always looks back to it being the end of term and for those finishing their time at St Mary’s a special occasion in the shape of the Going Down Ball.

It is an event which many people might remember best from their time at college as it was effectively both a poignant and raucous farewell to college life.

As someone who organised a couple I have to say it was a privilege to have a hand in putting them on.

The aim was to cram in as much as was feasibly possible, in order to let people make the most of their last social event at St Mary’s.

This month I’m sharing some of the photos I took at the last Going Down Ball I attended in 1989.

They include an atmospheric night-time photo of an illuminated Walpole House, as well as a few faces from the event (including at a boat trip the following evening - because one night really wasn’t enough) and the Bootleg Beatles performing in a room that I recall used to be known as C1.

The 1980s Facebook group continues to grow - we now number 765 members - but are always looking for more.

So remember, if you’re in touch with anyone from the eighties era and they haven’t signed up do please get them to do so.

Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House
Students lying down on Priest's Lawn
Students at Going Down Ball
Students at Going Down Ball
Students at Going Down Ball

80s Group - Image 1

Hello from the 1980s Simmarians Facebook group.

The group continues to grow - we now number 738 members but are always looking for more.

So remember, if you’re in touch with anyone from the eighties era and they haven’t signed up do please get them to do so.

Despite there being many familiar names and faces we still only number a fraction of all those who studied at Strawberry Hill during that ten-year period.

The group continues to be a great place for sharing old photos and memories, as well as offering a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with college friends and acquaintances people may have lost touch with.

Quite a few posts recently have looked back on college life during the eighties and the content has ranged from ball photos to college memorabilia and all manner of artefacts from the era.

Perhaps one of the most keenly discussed photos recently was a movement studies year group photo from the late eighties posted by Emer Kiely.

Discussion ranged from eighties’ haircuts to the rather ‘unusual’ fabric the movement studies tracksuits were made from.

As someone with moderate (honest) hoarding tendencies I still have lots of photos, college-related memorabilia and more besides.

Most of it is ‘filed’ away in boxes in the loft and from time to time I discover one and instantly I am transported back through the decades.

Occasionally my parents present me with a box of college artefacts that I didn’t even know existed - discovered in their loft during a clearout.

One of the most interesting of late was an extremely detailed post-trip report on a religious studies field trip to the Holy Land during the 1984/85 academic year.

It was virtually the size of a dissertation and almost forensic in its scope. Everyone who went had been invited to contribute their post-trip reflection and analysis.

There were some hilarious submissions - including complaints about the toilet arrangements in the self-catering accommodation (no locks on the doors for starters) and someone saying a downside of the trip was having their duty free cigarettes stolen from one of the overhead lockers on the aircraft on the outbound flight.

Other things shared recently in the Facebook group include old NUS cards - with some seriously youthful looking photos - and membership cards for college clubs and societies.

Who can forget the mayhem of clubs and societies night in the student union hall where seasoned students would try and extract membership fees from impressionable young freshers through a hard sell of the benefits of signing-up, knowing full well that they would probably never see any return for their £1.50 membership fee, or however much it was.

Of course those figures for the cost of anything back then seem paltry and it’s shocking to think how much inflation has seen the price of everything skyrocket. Apologies for sounding like a pensioner at a bus stop who insists on telling you how much you used to be able to buy for a shilling but you get my drift.

So to one of the most interesting posts recently, a selection of menus from popular Teddington restaurants, including Bunters and Libertys, shared by Nicky Woodroffe (well done for hanging on to them Nicky).

The prices are surreal. A cocktail at Libertys could be had for as little as £1.35 - and there was even a happy hour where the cocktails were half-price!

A margherita pizza at Bunters would set you back just £1.50, or you could splash out on a top of the range supreme pizza for £2.65.

And finally another fascinating read from the past was an acceptance letter from November 1978 posted by Nicky Wood.

Interestingly it talked about the local attractions as much as the college itself.

I expect many people still look back on how they came to be at St Mary’s and something I discovered recently made me ponder on that.

Among my carefully filed away (okay, that’s a job for retirement) artefacts I discovered a 1982/83 college prospectus.

That dates from before my time but I recalled that I had attempted to secure a place that year, very late in the day and had been unsuccessful.

Slighted somewhat by this rejection I think it reinforced my determination to get in the following year and that’s just what I did.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Best wishes to all as the world starts to return to some sort of normal, albeit gradually.

Hopefully we can look to the prospect of alumni meet-ups going forward, be they small and informal or something a little more organised.


80s Group - Image 2

80s Group - Image 4 

 80s Group - Image 3