Category Archives: obituary


The passing of the comedian Jim Bowen last month was keenly felt in our neck of the woods. He became a household name in the 1980s as the presenter of ‘Bullseye’, but he was known to Lancastrians in the 1970s as a teacher at several schools in the area. Younger Lancastrians may remember him for different reasons.

In the early 90s, some bright spark Bowland social secretary had the idea of booking the notoriously ‘blue’ comic to perform in the college bar. Bowen didn’t manage many, err, ‘off-colour’ gags before he was booed off the stage. After having a drink poured over him by a Sikh in the audience, Bowen asked the head bouncer to provide an escort. He obliged, and called over his very large, very black colleague to assist. Bowen, recognising his awkward situation, allegedly asked if he could expect any help if it all kicked off, to which the answer was a very confident ‘no’. Bowen was wished well in his escape.

Some time later, the unfortunate Jim Bowen, who lived in a converted railway station, received a phone call from a ‘representative of British Regional Railways’ (actually Louis Barfe, doing a wind-up for University Radio Bailrigg). Those wanting to listen to Bowen advising on how best to market a railway line as a tourist attraction using his likeness and trademarks can do so here:


Written by Ronnie Rowlands.

The news of the death of John Hadfield on September 1st came as a great shock. John had been a regular fixture of the university’s decision-making bodies for a number of years, culminating in his service as Deputy Pro-Chancellor of the University.

He was never an especially public figure within the university, but anybody who has held a senior post or served on our highest decision-making bodies will remember John as a gravelly, no-nonsense northerner, whose occasional involvement in unpopular institutional decisions was offset by a common touch that radiated personal conviction in what he was doing.

John was particularly popular among Students’ Union officers. His oft stated philosophy was that, at the heart of everything, ‘it’s about the students. Always ‘as been, always will be.’ It was only ill health that led to his resignation from LUSU’s trustee board, his final post within the university. From 2014 to 2015, I served as a full-time officer of the Students’ Union,  and will always remember when John openly sided with the students when the University Council voted to increase rents and postgraduate tuition fees.

At one meeting, I directed an uninterrupted ten minute tirade over the matter at the then University Secretary Fiona Aiken. At the end of it, she turned to John and said, ‘I’m sure, John, that as a representative of Council you’ll be happy to explain their rationale in taking this decision?’ Arms folded, and barely concealing his complete support for the student body’s dissent, he shook his head; ‘Nope. I won’t.’ The University Secretary was taken aback. It was a rare instance of disunity among the top table, and an action by which I shall always favourably judge John Hadfield.

This continued to the 2015 meeting of the University Court, chaired by John, which famously marked a rare instance of a Students’ Union motion being carried by the meeting. The room moved in our favour after a rambling, inarticulate and ill-advised interjection against the motion by a lay member of the Court. After the meeting, while the Vice-Chancellor and others seethed, John joined me and my colleagues for a cigarette. ‘Wharra’n absolute plonker – ‘e won you the debate the second ‘e opened his gob. Nice one!’

The subtext collective welcomes letters from anybody wishing to share their memories of John Hadfield.