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The Indispensable Albert - 1960s

By Dr Jim Brooks - Chair of the University Alumni Association, University Students' Union Sports Chairman (1964-66), University Soccer Captain (1964-67)

As the University commenced its new life in the mid-1960s a number of key figures were anchor-people for the students and guided them through these early days: “Harold”, the Prime Minister and our first Chancellor; “Red Ted”, our first Vice-Chancellor and “The Indispensable Albert”.

The Indispensable Albert by Jim Brooks.

The University Sports Complex was situated at Woodhall on the outskirts of Bradford.  Anyone involved in student sports teams or who participated in events at Woodhall will certainly remember “Albert” with affection and great appreciation.

Albert doubled as university groundsman and barman.

One could meet Albert carrying ground equipment in the early mornings, usually sporting his flat cap, and decked out in neatly folded shirt sleeves, familiar gardening waist-coat and well-worn wellies. He was best known for his ability to be omnipresent and for his thoroughly assimilated and long-practiced skills of "groundsman-ism".

He was acknowledged throughout the sporting world as the man who could lay the straightest and most accurate white-washed touchlines of any football, rugby or hockey field.

Visitors arriving late for University sporting events may often have ignored the games or results; but nonetheless they were certain to be welcomed by Albert.

Wearing his afternoon waist-coat and with flat cap removed, he’d be in action behind the bar, socialising and skilfully serving drinks, for “Indispensable Albert” doubled-up as student barman. He had acquired the skill and knowledge necessary for fulfilling the most demanding requests of University students and visitors.

Probably his greatest talent was the ability to fit over a hundred thirsty students and visitors into his little bar-room designed for 25-30.

A surprising number of soon-to-be-teachers willingly gave up their weekends to support the University teams and you could find them in “Albert’s Bar”.   It was the place to be seen and to have a good time. These social and sporting events were helped along by an almost endless supply of female company from our Teaching Colleges at Bingley, Margaret McMillian [Bradford] and the Nurses’ Teaching Hospital in Bradford.

Alongside the many memories linked to “Indispensible Albert”, it is worth remembering that beer cost one shilling and ten pence per pint, Seabrook Crisps were three pence per packet and twenty cigarettes cost about two shillings and ten pence – and all obtainable in Albert’s Bar.