BACKS

AAArgh - the students are revolting! As a result of the anti-monarchy demonstration at the UEA in 1968 various landladies refused to accept students as lodgers. Things got considerably worse when Norwich pub landlords refused to serve students aswell. Actually any young person, especially with long hair, appeared to be labelled a "student" and were barred.

This anti-student feeling focused on Backs pub in Norwich's Haymarket. The students responded by having a late breakfast in their jimjams outside Backs and by forcing entry of the pub leading it to close early.

Below is a letter and article from the Student Union magazine "Chips."

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UNNECCESARY AND PARTICULARLY SAD - EEN - mon June 10th, 1968. Andrew Harvey:

The BAN on university students at Backs is clumsy, unnecessary and particularly sad.

Clumsy because it has been applied by an often embarrassed staff to a much wider range of people, including lecturers, a smartly-dressed university technician of 39, and dozens of young people with no connection to the university.

I was refused service on friday night.

It is unnecessary because the claims of manager John Harrison are exaggerated. And sad for a number of reasons, but principally because in what has become one of the city's most attractive pubs, the middle-aged management has reacted to an influx of youth with intolerance.

I have been a regular customer of Backs for the past year or so. Like many other non-students I have been attracted to it because of the atmosphere, the company and the conversation which have come with the adoption of the place by the university.

What saddens me about Mr Harrison's action (agreed he is acting on instructions from his directors, but only after complaining to them and in effect asking for the ban) goes further than the fact that he has destroyed a valuable arena where not excessively young people of the city and the university regularly met and mixed.

He has given way to pressure from die-hard clientele jealous to preserve the pub for themselves.

And among people used to backs as they have known it for years, a steady build-up of students regulars inevitably posed problems - a personality clash between the generations if nothing more.

But what a fine opportunity was also presented to overcome the difficulties and establish in a city, often suspicious of students and the university, a centre for everyone to enjoy. Norwich needs such a place. Backs was big enough and it had all the ingredients.

Few of Mr Harrison's complaints win my sympathy because he has distorted the case. He says the pub was in danger of becoming a dive, and when I asked him what sort of filthy behaviour the students were guilty of, he replied: "You name it, they've done it." Exaggertions like these don't encourage respect for the rest of his argument.

I have been in Backs many times and I have never seen anything objectionable about the behaviour of the student customrs. I have seen the students dominate the main bar by their numbers but not by their actions.

Mr Harrison says he has seen a student throw a glass across the room so it smashed against a wall, and he has seen students throw beer at each other.

These people should have been ejected and, if persistent misbehavers banned from the premises. To ban all students is to invite just the sort of trouble there has been outside this week-end and which looks likely to persist.

Meanwhile the Students' Union will contact their solicitor today to check on the legal aspects of their exclusion.

One victim of the ban says he will bring the matter before Norwich Licensing Justices. He is Mr Mike Harris, a 39-year-old lighting and sound technician at the university.

 

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He told me that on Saturday he erected a public address system for the official openening of Rag Week by the Lord Mayor. After the ceremony he went to Backs with another technician and a student. He bought a round of drinks but when it was discovered who the three were, the student's drink was taken away by a member of staff and Mr Harris was told because he worked at the university he would not be served again. He was refused service on Saturday night, he said.

Contact was made on Saturday by one student with a director of Forte, who control Hennekys, who run Backs. He asked for more details and promised an investigation today.

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To the left one of Tony Skipper's excellent photos showing the inside of Backs with an unknown person. Above - students prepare to invade the pub led by Julian Chisholm with a Private Eye stuffed in his jacket pocket.

cartoon Backs-Haymarket

In retrospect the Backs affair must go down as the greatest piece of political chicanery in the history of this university. It is well-known that the Vice-Chancellor has become increasingly disgusted with the political and social high spirits of a few of the students.

Things were obviously beginning to move; yet what could the Vice-Chancellor do? No one had challenged him drectly so he had to sit back and wait. At last week's seminar he was still treated like some old benevolent headmaster, though a few rebellious undertones did pierce the complacency. When he got home that night he began the notion which would take students' minds off their revolutionary hobbies. He had a chat with his next door neighbour out at Hethersett, none other than Lord Backs, one time public house tycoon, and owner of Backs before Heneky's took over. Lord Backs, acting on the Vice-Chancellor's request to persuade the present manager, Mr Harrison, to impose a ban on all students.

The ban was carefully planned and put into action the next day. The Vice-Chancellor and Lord Backs were well aware of the ill-feeling this would cause between students and town. They were well aware that it would provide students with a concrete issue which would unite them in the struggle against the innocent manager they thought had maligned them. This was just a red herring. The ban was designed to impede Tuesday's Union meeeting, to compromise the then president Richard Sandbrook, and to act as a cooling agent on the furore of revolution!!

The chicanery was completely successful. Tuesday's Union meeting was completely disrupted, none of the progressive motions on the agenda were even mentioned, let alone passed, and Richard Sandbrook who has achieved so much for the Union was placed in such a compromising position that he was forced to resign. The Vice-Chancellor's underhand action will probably mean that the enthusiasm engendered among students this term will fizzle out over the last two weeks. There is no time to do anything now; it will die over the vacation. And at the beginning of next term, this will be the same, complacent place it always has been.

Yours Sincerely Rosa Luxembourg.

BIAFRA

This cartoon may have been a dig at Old John, a homeless ex-serviceman who drank his daily two bottles of wine in the Haymarket. To the right a letter to the student magazine "Chips."