Musings on “Lampeter Sunday, 1995”

I took this photo in 1995. It’s of the High Street of a small mid-Welsh town called Lampeter. I went to university in this small mid-Wales town, part of a cohort that doubled the population from about 1,500 to about 3,000 during term time. Those 3,000 souls had thirsts quenched by nine pubs and an equal number of churches. The university had just changed its name from St David’s University College to University of Wales, Lampeter. It is now called University of Wales Trinity St David and is a merged institution with Trinity College Carmarthen and Swansea Metropolitan University. My degree, and indeed my department, has no name today. Both are long gone.

Lampeter closed on Sundays, not that there were many people around to witness it. Something strange happened. People seemed to arrive in rooms or shared houses without having gone via the streets. The campus was apparently dead and yet the union bar rarely empty. My team won the union bar Sunday lunchtime pub quiz one term with the entire 10-week competition being settled on a tie-break when one of our number correctly guessed the number of players on a korfball team. He had however been thinking of netball which has a different number. Lampeter was kinda like that.

I mostly had a great time and got a 2:1 but stuck around for a disastrous postgrad year of attempting to pull together an MPhil on Language Contact & Change in 19th Century Wales. I reckon had I not been a mostly-drunk and unfocused delitante and had I had a department that gave a crap something good could have come from that. As it was that particular dark night of the soul ended when I somehow got a job in London and I moved away from Shut on Sundays to Open All Hours.

Next year’s intake in Lampeter will have been born in the year I started there. With my wife I made a flying visit this weekend. It was Sunday and raining. Lampeter was closed. We walked the empty streets feeling like everything wasn’t quite where it should be. Some things had changed, some were the same. There didn’t seem to be a pub quiz going on in the union bar. I took this photo and then we had lunch and left. Lampeter is still a mid-Welsh town with a university but we don’t belong there any more.

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3 thoughts on “Musings on “Lampeter Sunday, 1995””

  1. It’s funny, I was there the Sunday before last. Despite having been back many times over the years, that visit seemed to have the same effect on me. Walking in to an empty bar on a Sunday lunchtime, past an almost empty refec… It was a beautiful day. Yet, instead of dozens of people sat by the river with bbq’s there was no one. It seemed like everyone had left already. Finally, it felt like a golden age had passed, and much like yourself, i realised i no longer belonged there.

  2. “Next year’s intake in Lampeter will have been born in the year I started there.”

    Thanks for that cheery thought… The last time I was there I did make it onto campus – something I usually avoid – to find Canterbury Building demolished, the Arts Centre re-clad, and the cloisters inexplicably carpeted (with corporate leather couches in front of a flickering flat screen TV). It certainly felt like a different institution.

    Thanks for the evocation of Lampeter times past!

  3. I graduated from Lampeter in 1995. I think something of this little town always stays in your soul.

    A few years ago, a friend of mine who did some work trying to encourage new students to attend Llambed. He told me it’s all about en-suite rooms with wi-fi nowadays. SDUC has to offer this to keep up with it’s rivals. Many departments have closed now like Modern Languages, or been shifted down to Carmarthen.

    I had to laugh. It appears students there today simply don’t appreciate why Lampeter is (or was) unique. We all move on, but where else could one meet Muslim fundamentalists, Swedish beauties, LGBT, Welsh nationalists and English rugby misfits in under a square mile? Long live the Newbridge Cafe and
    the magic of the Gorllewin Gwyllt.

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