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Your Bristol love stories

Luke Andrew Scowen

Luke Scowen

John and Jean Caldwell in 1955 and in 2015 celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

John and Hilary Gardner in 1959, and now

11 February 2016

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we asked if you found love while studying at Bristol. From VW Beetle car rides to romantic walks along Clifton’s Suspension Bridge, here's what you told us...

David Hall (BSc 1968) Anne Hall (née Roe) (BSc 1970)

David says: 'Anne first caught my eye by the coffee machine in Royal Fort House during breaks between lectures – she was with her first-year friends, I was with my third-year reprobates – but our romance didn't start until after I had graduated and needed a current student partner to see the excellent Revunions show. A fellow Physics graduate, Bob Twitchin (BSc 1968), had returned to Bristol to sell Anne a textbook, and he played Cupid by introducing us.

'The Revunions show was brilliant as usual, and was followed up with coffee and Beatles tapes at my shared house in Stoke Bishop, well into the small hours. Then we drove out to the Severn Bridge in my old red VW Beetle for a walk in the moonlight, more coffee at the services, then back to the house for breakfast, when Anne's skills with the vintage cooker helped her find the way to my heart. We finished off with the Sunday morning service at St Paul's Church, and then I returned her to Goldney House - certainly an unusual first date!

'Love blossomed, and we got engaged on Valentine's Day in 1969, and married in August. Life as a married student suited Anne, and she got a far better degree (as Anne Hall) than I had managed! We've stayed in the Bristol area ever since, and now have three sons and two grandsons. I've still got the same VW Beetle (which the first owner had registered on Valentine's Day in 1959) but it's now a major restoration project. We’d love to get in contact with some of our Bristol friends from that era.’

John Caldwell (PhD 1953) and Jean Caldwell (née Duddridge) (BA 1951)

John says: 'In 1949, I came to Bristol to study for a doctorate under Professor Alfred (later Sir Alfred) Pugsley. Engineering was then housed in the old Merchant Venturers' Technical College on Unity Street. As a northerner, Bristol and its inhabitants were new to me, and my student lodgings in distant Sea Mills offered few opportunities for meeting people. I enrolled for various University sporting activities, and on 9 November 1949 made my way to the Victoria Rooms to try my hand at badminton.

'My diary for that fateful evening records that I fell into conversation with "ML", an attractive arts student and also a badminton novice. (I didn't know her name, but being reminded of a famous painting, my diary reference to "ML"stood for "Mona Lisa".) Our conversation persuaded me that badminton was a game I should take up.

'Subsequent diary entries refer to increasingly frequent meetings with "ML". Brandon Hill at lunchtime was a delightful spot for a rendez-vous, as was The Berkeley (when we could afford to lunch there) near the top of Park Street. ML was revealed to be Jean Duddridge, daughter of a Great Western Railway engineer living in nearby Knowle. Soon there were memorable evenings at Colston Hall and Theatre Royal, and a ball at the Victoria Rooms, after which Jean and I walked up to Clifton Suspension Bridge to enjoy the magic of the Avon Gorge at night.

'Little did we know then that our wedding reception would take place at the nearby Grand Spa Hotel in Clifton in August 1955. We were married at Stoke Bishop church. Nor would Jean and I have believed that in August 2015, together with our two sons and six grandchildren, we would be celebrating our diamond wedding anniversary by the shore of Lake Windermere, near our home in Cumbria.

'So Bristol, its University and its memories, have always been precious to us. A few of us colleagues from our Unity Street days still meet together once a year, now more than 65 years since those first happy years as budding Bristol engineers. "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive..." We all have so much to be grateful for, not least for those memories of our lives and loves long ago.'

Lemuel Ibbotson (BSc 1952) and Kathryn Ibbotson (née Noake) (BA 1954, Cert Ed 1955)

Lemuel says: 'I met my wife at the University in 1951 when I was a third-year science student and she an arts Fresher. In 1952 I left to join the RAF for three years and our ways parted. Thirty-five years later we met again by chance and have been happily together ever since.'

John Gardner (BSc 1959) and Hilary Gardner (née Still)

John says: 'In 1958/59, I had the honour of being the Chairman of the Engineering Society (ENSOC). During that year, as was normal for ENSOC, we were a very active group involved in many traditional after-hours functions. One of our guest speakers was Dr Barnes Wallis, of Dambusters fame, and we organised visits to local industries including Fry's, Wills, Harvey's and naturally, the brewery. I also had the privilege of meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip when the Queen opened the brand new Engineering building on University Walk.

'However the highlight of my year was the Engineer's ball. At that time I was bereft of female company and as Chairman of ENSOC I needed a partner for the ball. After much research and courage I decided to invite Miss Hilary Still, Secretary to Professor Sir Alfred Pugsley, to be my partner. What was intended to be a one-off date resulted in 55 years of happy marriage - we now have three grown-up children and six grandchildren. Yes, we found enduring romance and much happiness at Bristol. We have lived much of the last 55 years in south Australia, but visit the UK regularly to visit relatives: we always try to retrace our footprints in and around the University.'


Further information

Did you find love at Bristol? Let us know: we'd love to hear from you.