The Brinsford Experience

OK - so it was your first time away from home. You told your mother that you'd be staying in a Hall of Residence with 250 other students. She wasn't too sure about this. On the one hand she'd seen pictures of those pleasant , neat , orderly mini-tower blocks - the sort you got at nice modern Universities. On the other , you were actually going to Wolves Poly and you'd be living some place with another 250 students - most of whom would also be away from home for the first time too ! Sounds like a real good idea ........

Getting there

At last the big day comes and you're off. If you're lucky a swift despatch at the railway station with a tearful farewell as your parents send their lucky offspring off into the big wide world. entrance and buildingsIf you're not - it's a journey in the family car to Wolverhampton and the fear that potential new friends might see you getting fussed over by your mother as she gets all emotional and insists that you wear sensible clothes and eat properly. Heck no ! You haven't left home to eat sensibly. OK it may take a few months to work out a student diet but you'll sure as hell die trying.

There were basically two ways to get to Brinsford (maps are available still). You could get your parents to drive you there - this was good if you had a pile of stuff but not so good if you brought everyone including your dorkie brother. Most freshers chose this method but soon wised up and either got some form of transport of their own or cadged a lift when the new terms started.The other option was to arrive at the railway station and catch the poly mini-bus specially laid on for the purpose of dropping off new students at the various halls. On my first day I was met in this way and then regaled by the ever-so-old 2nd Years with tales of Brinsford. However you got there at some point you had to cross the threshold and enter Brinsford Lodge - The Polytechnic of Wolverhampton. This was probably only slightly less worrying for you than your mother who really was wondering what was going to happen to her offspring in this place.

Once you'd finally stopped the car or got off the minibus it was the ritual initiation ceremony. No not some ritual humiliation in front of your peers (that came later when you sat by accident on the "exec" table) , no this was the Keith and Berle Hammond welcome to Brinsford. A bit like your first day at school - you can probably remember this clearly. If you're not such a sad act as me , I'll remind you anyway. In my time at Brinsford ( '77 - '81) Keith Hammond was the Warden of Brinsford Lodge and as such was responsible for the well being of the students and the effective running of the site. Well that's what he always said at these induction sessions ! . The process was actually fairly straight forward. You actually entered the building proper by the main office - the first building on your right - you can see the door in the picture. Walking into there I can just about remember toilets to the right , an office to the left with what we called the Long Room next to it. I remember it being decorated with some vile FAD products - so called art works .In there were a series of desks. We also used it as the reception room for the pre-Christmas Dinner drinks - but more of that later

Checking in

Desk One was I think the point at which you showed your documents and got registered as a resident proper. Next up was the compulsory membership of the Polylodge Club. Distinct from the BLSA , the Polylodge Club was the device by which we had a licensed bar. Without it you couldn't use the bar and it cost a small amount to join. For Brinsford newbies this could actually be quite a bit to take in - so we made it even more confusing by then asking for money to join the BLSA . " Uh ? I've just joined the Polylodge Club" .>polylodge card"Hey we're 2nd years - trust us ! ". They did of course so the next stage was to tell them about the Brinsford Lodge Students Association which was there to represent them and to ensure that in general they had a good time. We told them what the first weeks arrangements were and what they should do in case of someone filling their accommodation block with water from overflowing baths and other more questionable practices. Unlike the Poly Students Union we didn't hand out advice on what to do if busted by the Old Bill for drugs as that was unheard of in the clean living corridors of Brinsford

Having run the gauntlet of both full time staff and the BLSA representatives you could now proceed to your room - key in hand ready for anything Brinsford could throw in your path. For some it was little warning of the perils to come. In my case I was shown to my room in L block , L2 as I remember by Bert - the senior gate keeper ( or green men as we called them) . He was very helpful - even carrying one of my bags , which in my excited state I left him with , as I shot off to inspect my room. Having retrieved my bag I duly walked into L Block. This was down the far end of Brinsford and was laid out like most of the blocks as a long dormitory style. view from my roomWith six rooms on either side and a central corridor it didn't look that appealing as a communal living quarter. How wrong I was !

Part Two

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