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The Student 1984/85 digitised: ‘A load of Pollocks’ and Jazzin’ Jeans

ByMatt Bugajski

Oct 14, 2014

The University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections (CRC) recently released the first of a year’s worth of copies of The Student, then called Student, from the academic year 1984/85.

Each digitised paper will be made available online weekly in ‘real-time’ until the end of the academic year.

The October 3 1984 edition, the first to be released, provided an introduction from a student’s perspective to the campus and city for Fresher’s Week.

The project, helmed by Gavin Wilshaw, Digital Curator at the Main Library, has set off a wave of nostalgia for former students who were involved with Student at the time.

It will serve as a pilot project for the CRC to explore further digitising its collection, which includes a full archive of past editions of Student, according to the project website.

Alastair Dalton, who wrote for Student from 1983 to 1987, said the project goes to show how differently newspapers were printed and operated in the past, as well as how The Student has changed over the years.

He told The Student: “We didn’t even have typewriters; we would handwrite the copy, and we would then give it to copy-takers upstairs, these slightly daunting characters – older guys – that retyped it in.”

Dalton now serves as Transport Correspondent for The Scotsman, a role that he said his work as a writer and editor at Student helped him prepare for more than his coursework.

The CRC project has already spawned a Facebook page for those who were involved in the run to reminisce and reconnect. Dalton said some of the former writers and editors are now considering planning a reunion, as a result of the digitisation project and the Facebook page.

Mark Percival, another former Student writer, commented on the CRC website: “Like Alastair Dalton, I wrote for that 03.10.84 issue (and many of the 84/85 and 85/86 issues).

“I had, perhaps understandably, completely forgotten about my attempt to be entertaining about the King’s Buildings.

“What I’m surprised about is that it isn’t as bad as I might have imagined from here in 2014. I think it was me that hand-lettered the speech bubbles on the photograph that accompanied the article, which would explain their sketchiness. I look forward to seeing the run as it is posted.”

Michael Devlin, editor at the time of the publication of the first few copies to be digitised, also expressed his support for the project.

He posted on the CRC’s blog: “I can almost smell the glue that we used to put the paper together.

“Looking forward to reading and cringing through the remaining issues this semester.”

The second digitised edition featured a review of Freshers’ Week 1984, ‘Heroin – The Facts’, and a shock win for Hearts.

The paper came with the headline ‘Fur coat and no knickers’.

Future issues will cover topics including ‘The Troubles in Ireland’, the Miners’ Strike of 1984, and the privatisation of state assets, according to the project website.

The CRC encourages people who studied at The University of Edinburgh to comment on the articles with their thoughts about student life, or to use their hashtag #thestudent84 on Twitter.

Dalton recalled his most treasured memory from his time at the paper: when he saw his name in print in Student for the first time.

He said: “If that sort of thrill of seeing your name in print has gone, then that’s the time for me to stop being a journalist.”





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