Aberystwyth University celebrates Founders’ Day

Kicking the Bar as Aberystwyth University celebrates Founders’ Day.

Kicking the Bar as Aberystwyth University celebrates Founders’ Day.

11 October 2019

Staff, students, alumni and members of the local community braved the elements for a brisk walk along the Promenade at Aberystwyth on Friday 11 October 2019, as part of the University’s annual Founders Day celebrations.

Led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, the hardy group of walkers honoured the long standing Aberystwyth tradition of ‘kicking the bar’ outside Alexandra Hall, the first purpose built hall of residence in the UK dedicated to female students, before returning to Old College for a celebratory breakfast.

The Founders Day celebrations have become an annual feature of the calendar and mark the anniversary when the University first opened its doors in October 1872.

Guest speaker at this year’s event was Bryn Jones. Bryn was awarded an Honorary Bachelor’s Degree by the University in 2015 for his long standing community work and in particular his visionary work with the Penparcau Community Forum.

Speaking after addressing a packed Old Hall, Bryn said: “I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at this year’s Founders’ Day and to see so many members of the local community represented here, as well as staff, students and friends of the University. The community element of the project to breathe new life into Old College is hugely important to me and I am very proud to have represented the local community on the Old College Project Board from the very beginning. The Old College plans are very exciting and I look forward to seeing groups such as the Penparcau Community Forum making the most of this iconic old building as it enjoys a new lease of life at the heart of Aberystwyth.”

Bryn was accompanied on stage by Victorian industrialist Thomas Savin, whose vision of a railway line from Birmingham to Aberystwyth and a five star hotel on the seaside, would eventually provide the ideal location for the first constituent college of the University of Wales in 1872.

Played by retired English teacher Mike Francis, Savin wished his failed hotel venture which later become the Old College, a bright future.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University, said: “It was a delight to see the Old Hall full once again today as we celebrated the work of our Founders. It was their vision more than 150 years ago that led to the establishment of Aberystwyth as the first constituent college of the University of Wales. All those years later, the acorn of a college that saw 26 students welcomed into a converted hotel has flourished into the vibrant academic community and one of the most important cultural and economic drivers in Wales today. I am grateful to them as I am to all those who over the years have played their part in this remarkable adventure, long may it continue.”

The audience also heard from Aberystwyth Students’ Union President Dhanjeet Ramnatsing who spoke of the importance of the Old College project for the student community.

Originally the site of Castle House and developed as a hotel by Thomas Savin, Old College was bought by early benefactors across the UK for £10,000 as the first home of the University of Wales in 1867.

As the University nears its 150th anniversary, plans are underway to transform this iconic and much loved building into a vibrant centre for learning, culture and enterprise and a major catalyst for the development of Aberystwyth.

In these early crucial stages, over £1 million has already been raised for the Old College appeal in donations and pledges from around the world including trusts and foundations.

The project, plans for which can be seen online here, has received the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.