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Public order reasserted: 1950s onwards

General Sir John HackettGeneral Sir John HackettTwo of the last old style rags took place in the 1950s. In 1952, police broke up a series of races in the Strand of King's and University College students dressed as camels and a cow.

More daringly, in 1956, King's Engineers grabbed Phineas from a cabinet in the University College Union after melting off its locks, the very day before the visit of the Queen Mother to inspect the Scottish Highlander.

1970s demo1970s demoA tarred and feathered Phineas was restored with moments to spare.

Across the United Kingdom, student priorities began to change with the enlargement of the university sector in the 1960s. The growth of provincial higher education both enhanced the possibilities for the rag and the dangers of 'town and gown' tensions between permanent local, and transient student, populations.

Universities across Britain tried to build bridges with local people, especially through fund raising initiatives for local charities.

Custard pie, 1970sCustard pie, 1970sHowever, the 1960s, 70s and 80s all bore witness to a more politically aware student population with demonstrations and sit-ins against Vietnam, university cuts and the Poll Tax.

Bentham's headBentham's headIn this more highly charged climate, the traditional rag might have looked anachronistic and somewhat juvenile.

Nevertheless, a place remained for conventional high spirits, in particular occasioned by King's renewed participation in the Lord Mayor's Show.

Inebriated King's students achieved perhaps their most spectacular coup in 1989, moreover, when the mummified head of University College's brilliant but arguably eccentric founder, Jeremy Bentham, was appropriated and used as the central prop in an impromptu football match outside King's.

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