On Saturday 28th July in Ambleside, Cumbria after weeks and weeks of unbroken sunshine, during one of the hottest summers in decades, it rained, it rained rather a lot. But there was one small group of alumni who didn’t notice one drop, the weather was not going to dampen their spirits as they all met up for the first time in 35 years.
14 member of the Class of 1983 Charlotte Mason College alumni descended on our Ambleside campus on the drizzly Saturday lunchtime for sandwiches and cake. They greeted one another with shrieks of delight and enthusiastic hugs. Any fears of awkwardness or the ability to recognise each other swiftly disappeared.
Joanne Lusher, University of Cumbria alumni relations officer, welcomed the group to the Charlotte Mason Building. The building, of course, was new to the group, having been built in the 2000s at the very top of the campus initially as the library but is now general teaching space.
The group got reacquainted, sharing much laughter, old stories and photos over a lunch of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes.
Later in the afternoon, Joanne led the group for an informal campus tour and was keen to hear how the campus had changed since the 1980s. The main change is the disappearance of the ‘airport lounge’, the large flat building that used to cut across the middle of the campus and link Scale How with the Percival lecture theatre. This was demolished in 2014 and a pathway created down the middle of the campus. The ‘airport lounge’ was built just after the class had first arrived on campus so they were the ones who gave the rather bland looking building its name, much to the annoyance of the staff.
The group recalled the student protests around the time of the building works at the felling of large white oaks that had been on the site for hundreds of years. Another sad loss to campus at this time were the Wordsworth Steps. These steps were built at the time of the main house, Scale How, in the early 1800s. The house belonged to Dorothy Harrison a cousin of William Wordsworth. The location of the steps can now be found on campus memorialised by a plaque on the side of Langdale.
Next was a visit to the Beehive, which was the very first room they encountered when arriving on campus for the first time in 1979. This was where they all enrolled and was a social space with pool tables and where they collected post. The new Fellcourt residences were next on the tour and as we passed Hellvelyn, the Annexe and Fairfield much discussion ensued about how it looked back in the day and what the buildings were originally called.
After a wander round the outside of Scale How, a peek in Langdale and a viewing of Yate’s sketches in Millet, the group finished their tour in the Barn. The alumni were shocked to see the transformation, from what was their social space, exercise hall and disco room to what it is now, a café with a library upstairs.
The reunion continued well into the evening with drinks up the road in the Golden Rule for old time’s sake.
All photography by Adam Cusack, used with kind permission. https://www.say-cheese.photography/