Tag Archives: signs


Dear subtext,

On the ‘There’s only one University in Lancashire’ thread.

I do applaud UCLAN’s short sightedness on changing their name and as a Lancs Poly graduate I well remember the arguments raging amongst staff about naming. I recall the favourite at the time amongst chattering classes was University of Central Lancashire at Preston which was dropped when they realised it would be UCLaP. Perhaps that should be one of their options?

As a former employee: I should also point out there is a third University in Lancashire, the University of Cumbria, which whilst headquartered in Cumbria retains its largest campus in our County. It also retains a campus in East London for Policing and PGCE training, which amused me most when you heard the red buses halt just a few yards up the road and announce they had arrived at ‘University of Cumbria’ causing some confusion in the initial days. I know HS2 will be fast, but not that fast.

Peter Hurst



Dear subtext,

Your item about the current proposals for the re-naming of the University of Central Lancashire is a replay of a debate from 1991, when Preston Polytechnic was about to become a university and proposed to the Privy Council that it should be called the University of Lancashire. Harry Hanham, robustly supported by the Senate and the Council, lost no time in pointing out the exceptional level of confusion, not to the advantage of the University of Lancaster, that would follow and the proposal was rejected. It is concerning that the issue should be raised again so soon, and with an identical proposal.

Marion McClintock


Dear subtext,

Small addition to the subtext point about lower case signage; the letters on the wall of the ‘postgraduate statistics centre’ have been all lower case since it was built (10 or 15 or so years ago I think).

Tom Palmer

Mathematics & Statistics


Dear subtext,

This should perhaps be linked for all law students and faculty as a follow up to your best headline ever:

Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, verse 2: a close reading with Fourth Amendment guidance for cops and perps


Steve Wright



Campus observers will have noticed a proliferation of lower-case signs in recent weeks. subtext has already noted ‘law school’ outside the entrance to Bowland North from the spine (see subtext 170), and now we have ‘languages and cultures’ affixed to the wall of Bowland North, facing the Chaplaincy Centre. Why languages gets the outward-facing wall and law gets the inward-facing wall seems a little unclear – and both ‘history’ and ‘students’ union’ are affixed to the wall of Bowland Main. Other lower-case signs have been cropping up in Fylde, Furness and The County colleges. The reaction in the subtext warehouse is somewhat mixed. It is not thought to be orthographically correct, but in the world of advertising and marketing, it is seen as having a cool, casual hip feel with the intention of looking more youth orientated. Whether or not it actually does appeal to the yoof crowd is debatable; pop-culture fads come and go, sometimes losing their appeal almost immediately.

In fiction, lower-case is a stylistic choice that can be used to give a melancholic feel to your writing or, when used in a visual narrative sense, to indicate childishness or, in some cases, idiocy. On a darker note, this trope also has a tendency to appear in most post-apocalyptic fiction where it is used to mark the point where the unfortunate author has gone mad or given up all hope. We welcome readers’ views, and leave it to you to decide why subtext has always rendered itself with a lower-case ‘s’…


Coming off the night shift at the subtext warehouse our drones were intrigued by the new sign at the entrance to Bowland North. Not the blaring adverts for Subway and Blackwell’s, but the cool, chunky, brushed steel lettering proclaiming something called ‘law school’. The fact that it was all in lowercase suggested that the infamous Capital Letter Thieves were again at large. Readers will recall how in recent times the Learning Zone and the Ruskin Centre suffered from their depredations, with letters disappearing overnight to sometimes comic effect. Were they up to their old tricks again?
As we tucked into our post-shift sweet tea and dripping sandwiches, we pondered on the identity of the missing letter. Could the sign be indicating the ‘Flaw school’, an extension of PPR containing a new Department of Refutations, dedicated to exposing the faulty reasoning behind current university policies (UA92 springs to mind)? Perhaps it’s the ‘Claw school’, suggesting a concentration of the university’s mushrooming enterprise units, slavering to compete in the cut-and-thrust world of marketised HE. Maybe a fearfully symmetrical twin is planned for next-door Bowland Main, the ‘Tooth school’.

Another suggestion was the rather esoteric ‘Glaw school’, which had the more unlettered members of the collective tapping into their search engines to find a meaning. ‘Glaw’, according to the Urban Dictionary, is ‘a word with no meaning, used as a response to a question to annoy someone’. Clearly, any modern university worth its salt needs this function but as it was already admirably fulfilled by the Human Resources Division, it was deemed to be superfluous.

After much discussion, a consensus was eventually reached. A search of the subtext archives revealed that the place we now know as Bowland North was originally called ‘Lonsdale’, famous for the sybaritic lives of its inhabitants and known to all as ‘The Party College’. According to legend, the gods got so angered by their debauchery that one night they scooped up all the inhabitants and deposited them in the remotest region of Hades known as Alexandra Park, where they remain to this day. And it is in their memory that, employing the Glasgow street slang for cannabis (and other things), the space shall henceforth be known as… the ‘Blaw school’.


And another thing about that lowercase Law School sign… Lancaster seems to have long had an unwritten rule (see what we did there?) that buildings should not have department names engraved on them, not least because there seems to be a tip in the ‘Modern VC’s Playbook for Keeping Departments in Line” that departments should be regularly moved when buildings are refurbished, or merged with others, or just closed, to stop them from getting too comfortable. However, with new buildings springing up all the time, and Engineering getting its very own shiny lowercase letters a few years ago, it’s possible the Law School had a bit of sign envy. Or perhaps it’s a North Campus/South Campus thing? With the huge sign outside the FASS building now a thing of the past, it’s possible someone felt the sign balance needed to be shifted again.

There’s only one problem: as regular visitors to Bowland North know, the building is home not only to Lancaster’s legal scholars. It also accommodates the Departments of Languages and Cultures, and Sociology, as well as the occasional band of itinerant Linguistics PhD students who seem to have been banished from County South. And that’s just the top three floors. The ground floor houses two lecture theatres, 27 seminar rooms (some of which even have windows, see subtexts passim) and two computer labs, all of which are used as teaching space by pretty much every department in the University, by conference delegates and by a number of summer schools. Why the Law School should be the only department that gets a huge sign on the side of the building is as yet not quite clear, but if readers know of any ‘cash-for-signs’ shenanigans, please do write in (for the benefit of any lawyers reading this, we are joking!). All the signs point to more signs in future.