RETRO: Uni pranks and prizes

Rag Parade passing the Goodwin Fountain in Sheffield. 1st November 1980.
Rag Parade passing the Goodwin Fountain in Sheffield. 1st November 1980.
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They arrive fresh-faced and set for education – but quickly realised there is much more to life as a Sheffield student.

Oh the japes, the tricks and the pure silliness – especially when Rag Week came around. There was plenty of Rag controversy, often stirred up by student magazine Twikker.

Sheffield University Rag 26th October 1972'Wife Auction

Sheffield University Rag 26th October 1972'Wife Auction

Here’s one of the more memorable pranks covered in The Star on October 23, 1967: “An overnight rowing-boat raid by seven Sheffield students on the Cunarder Queen Elizabeth II, yesterday won Sheffield’s Rag Week its best publicity to date.

“When shopworkers arrived at the Queen’s Dock on Clydeside at dawn yesterday, they saw the words HMS TWIKKER daubed in 3ft-high green-painted letters on the stern of the 58,000-ton liner.

“Three of the students – six men and one woman from the university and college of technology – described the stunt when they arrived back at the Rag Cafe, the Web, in Sheffield last night.

“Four men too part in the actual raid. Two rowed, one painted and the fourth held the painter’s legs to stop him falling in. This year’s stunt was not followed with accusations of irresponsibility, as some in the past have been.

Sheffield University Rag Boat Race'29 October 1977

Sheffield University Rag Boat Race'29 October 1977

“The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Hugh Robson, described it as ‘most ingenious’. Mr John Rannie, managing director of John Brown’s said: “We regard this as a compliment. We will not be complaining to the university. I was a student myself once.”

Just three days later transport was once again the target but this time not so well received, as we reported: “A new 15-mile stretch of the M1 in Derbyshire opened yesterday with a zebra crossing painted across both the north and south-bound carriage-ways.

“Last night Sheffield University students admitted that the crossing – complete with two Belisha beacons – was a Rag Week stunt. The crossing was daubed across the six-lane motorway near the village of Stainsby, a few miles from Chesterfield, by a seven-strong team of students using white emulsion paint.”

n Read about other Rag Week pranks and see more photos from The Star’s archive in our book Retro Re-wound: Looking Back In Pictures, available from The Star shop priced £6.50.