No 31 June 2005

Tales of Old


News no 31 June 2005 


Some time ago ‘Arch’ Andrews wrote that he had lent young Alison (local bell ringer then at St.A) a couple of his old student directories (so she could wave them at her parents and say "Found you"; [their reply was not reported]).  In return she lent him their 1982 copy of 'Famous Rectors of St Andrews'. In the back is a list of the candidates for various years, and the number of votes they got.  These encompass the time of the Men of Kinnessburn and may stir a few memories.




653 CP Snow

665 Sir John Rothenstein

665 Sir Learie Constantine

547 Dr George McLeod

572 Michael Bentine

498 Jo Grimmond

398 Sir Julian Huxley

563 Sir Gerald Nabarro

281 Alexander Gibson

267 Sir Basil Spence

557 Sir JohnCarmichael

178 Sean Connery

223 Lord Hughes

 74 Arthur Donaldson


(Sir Malcolm Sergent withdrew)









801 John Cleese

1296 Alan Coren

955 Sir Clement Freud

419 Alistair Cooke

 605 Jackie Stewart

545 Germaine Greer

265 Lord Ritchie Calder

 387 Digby Jacks

305 Barry Joss

221 Sir Wm MacEwen Younger

 267 Nicholas Fairbairn


126 Derek Nimmo



 72 Patrick Moore



 48 Harvey MacPherson



The total of votes cast may be of psephological interest :

1961 = 2088    1964 = 2431     1967 = 1622    1970 = 1982     1973 = 2555

In 1961/64 the constituency included Queen's College, which had gone its own way by 1967, hence the lower figure. The 1970/73 numbers reflect the  increase in the size of the University at that time.

Alan Coren, elected in 1973, was the only victor in the Kinnessburn years to obtain an absolute majority of votes, although today a single transferable vote system ensures that the winner obtains more than 50% of the votes cast.

For comparison the votes for the 2003 election (kindly provided by the Alumnus Office) totalled 1892. The number of voters as a %age of the student body is much lower today (but so is interest in national and local elections).


Sir John Rothenstein

Your Editor writes, “The 1964 Rectorial was mine. Until ‘Arch’ mentioned them I had forgotten the other candidates. Nabarro was a Tory politician and was supported by the Conservatives. Carmichael was a local worthy, already on the Senate, Arthur Donaldson was a Trade Union official, I think, and would have been supported by the New Left Club which had hardly any members.

I scanned a couple of the photos (courtesy Ian Joy) from the 1965 Rectorial booklet but the standard of printing was poor. Amongst his other presents the Rector was given a huge scroll conferring on him (in Latin, of course) the right to use the Kinnessburn bogs for ever. I wrote the scroll, having composed the Latin, and remember having several minor exchanges of opinion with Allan Hood over my Tacitean Latin. That may explain why he lectures in Latin at Edinburgh and I'm a happily retired teacher in Galloway.”

‘Arch’ admits that he doesn’t remember now if he heard from the likes of Sven Sigurđsson and David Bache (who were at Kinness for the '64 election)  that Michael Bentine was a candidate but he was surprised, and pleased, to see how well he did. He does remember one of them saying that on the morning of the election all the 'P' car-park signs in St.A had had an extra stroke pasted on overnight to make an   ‘R’, for Rothenstein.

Dr David Wishart writes that Rothenstein was dined at the Peat inn by the Three Bears Club the night before his inauguration, and that Chis Lewis and he were both there at the black tie event. David also ran a daily opinion poll on this campaign, posted in Cage, which he says was his first statistical project.


Sir Learie Constantine

Sir Learie Constantine, Rector of St Andrews University, is presented with a catapult by one of the students. Another present he received on his arrival yesterday is the cricket cap he is seen wearing.


 Sir Learie Constantine, the West Indian cricketer and lawyer – the new Rector of St Andrews University – was given an enthusiastic welcome by students as he arrived with his wife at the West Port, the ancient gateway to the town. Along with officials of the Students' Representative Council and the Students' Union, Sir Learie and Lady Constantine, in an open carriage pulled by the University Blues, were taken on a tour of the town.

 At various points the carriage was stopped so that the students could present gifts.  A square of turf cut from the Old Course was handed in by the men students of Burnet Hall, and a Scots pine gifted by the Crichton-Montrose Society will probably be planted in the university grounds.

 Other gifts included a smoked salmon from the Students' Union; a teddy bear from the  S.R.C.; a painting of St Andrews from the Athletic Union; and a tartan rug from the students of St Salvator's Hall. Provost Thomas T. Fordyce presented a golf tray on behalf of the townsfolk. On the lighter side there were a catapult – to help Sir Learie defend the students' rights – and a cricketer's box to protect him from the “fast ones” that would be bowled at him by the professors. Women students of McIntosh Hall presented Sir Learie with a paper knife and the key of the front door.

From Graham Fleming comes this. “One of the benefits of a removal is the serendipitous uncovering of all sorts of items long forgotten.  As a result, I include a transcription of an article which appeared in "The Scotsman" in 1968.   Unfortunately, the photograph has not scanned well but hopefully it is sufficient to make out the faces. Perhaps we can try to identify them? I wonder if anyone remembers the event and where the photograph was taken?”

From left to right: David Rundell; Neville Williamson; ?; David Bache; Sir Learie Constantine; ?; Graham Fleming; John Baxter; Ian McPhail; Sven Sigurđsson; John Selwood
The photo was taken on the steps of Canmore, the Catholic Chapliancy, on the Scores.

‘Noggin’ writes, “My flat (23 Church Street - Kinnessburn Central, housing Bear, Splodge and Thewlis besides myself) was the headquarters for the Constantine Rectorial campaign. Long nights cutting cardboard into triangles, painting them green with a black "C" and sticking safety-pins on them to make badges (my badge was 18" across - but enough bragging) and brain-storming for poster ideas.”


John Cleese

Frank Duncan remembers, “Interesting to see a photograph of Neville Williamson at the 1967 Rectorial. I recall Neville expressing his not inconsiderable displeasure at John Cleese's election in 1970. I think he thought Cleese lacked the necessary "gravitas"  for the job, although I believe Cleese did in fact prove to be quite an effective Rector. I also remember the MacPherson candidate in 1970 - the self-styled(?) "Chevalier of Dunmore". His supporters wore badges stating: "I'm a MacPherson person" (alternative pronunciation - "I'm a MacPheerson peerson" - for those from Morningside). I was surprised he got as many votes as he did.”

Frank continues, “The Cleese camp produced a series of pink lapel badges starting with "Say Cleese please" through "Say Cleese louder" to (when it became obvious he was the clear favourite) "Cleese with ease". I still have one of the wretched things, complete with rusting safety pin. There was also a play on "And now for something completely different" in the form of a large poster of Sir Learie Constantine walking out to bat with the slogan "and now for something completely different" printed underneath. I used to have one of these as well somewhere, but what with house moves etc ..”

‘Arch’ reports, “I'd forgotten that Nimmo was a candidate in '70; the book says that he was expected to do better, and I think that I recall a bit of a dirty-tricks campaign against him - a rumour that his campaigners had received a letter from a woman claiming he had abandoned her when she had his love-child.

I'd certainly completely forgotten that Patrick Moore was a candidate; but I do dimly recall Harvey MacPherson; he was a mature student. I think he owned a sailing boat of some description and persuaded Ted Hill to crew for him, taking it across the Firth of Forth; as I recall Ted returned more than a little appalled at the standard of MacPherson's seamanship.”

Looking over the Rector’s left shoulder is Viv Auster.
The photo is by ‘Arch’ and is taken from the same spot as the others, but facing across The Scores to the Catholic Church.
Photos of John Cleese © by ‘Arch’


TREVOR JONES has e-mailed, “I don't know if you are aware of the death of the former University Chaplain, Rev. The Hon. Robin Buchanan-Smith of Eriska, whose obituary I have recently read in Yachting Life.” Robin was Chaplain from 1965 until the end of the Kinnessburn era and will have been known to many of you.


Some of you received in error a draft copy of this edition in place of the March issue. The advantage of such editorial incompetence enables a fair number of ‘proof readers’ to have their say about the contents of the newsletter. As a consequence there have been a number of changes to this final version of the bulletin. Happy reading!

It seems that my ISP has changed its rules. This newsletter may consequently be too large to be sent as one attachment and you may receive it in sections or even (urgh!) by post. Should you not receive a complete copy (eight A5 pages), get in touch and I’ll send you a paper one. In the event of your not receiving any of it, you’ll never know…but still tell me!

On a more serious note some of you have messages on your e-mail templates urging “text only” or “no attachments”. If anyone else has difficulty with (or a dislike of) receiving the newsletter electronically, speak and you shall have a paper version. But as the current Dr Who says, “Your wish is my command, but be very careful what you wish.”


One of the latest buzzwords but nevertheless a very effective method. Our database is always growing and the Editor is pleased to pass on suitable information. So if you have any examples of Kinnessburn Networking, whether for yourself or the next generation, write about it for the newsletter.

Produced for the Men of Kinnessburn
by Graham Robertson


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