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My Cardiff

Percival Hugh Powell

Percival Hugh Powell, in his 96th year, is one of the oldest surviving graduates of Cardiff University, this year being the 75th Anniversary of his BA award. Professor Powell, now lives in Bloomington, USA, where he is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Indiana. Here, he shares some of his undergraduate memories.

Percival Hugh Powell

Percival Hugh Powell

This year will bring the 75th Anniversary of when I received my BA award, from what is known as today as Cardiff University. I studied German, French, English and a course in Welsh history. These were then followed by one year’s courses for a Diploma in Education.

I clearly remember fellow students William Moelwyn Merchant (from Taibach) who become a visible Anglican dignitary, Ken Etheridge, Bessie Phillips and E.T Davies. Our debating society would become very lively on Friday nights and we also produced and acted in several plays through the medium of English, French and German.

I also recall some of my tutors including Mr Llewellyn who was a lecturer in the English Department, Morgan Watkin, Professor of French, who was well known for his numerous degrees and honours from France and Italy, Mansel Jones, lecturer in French Literature who later made a formidable international reputation as professor of Modern French Literature at Manchester University. As a scholar I remember especially clearly someone to whom I owe invaluable insight into the nature of adolescence, Professor (later Dame) Olive Wheeler, a psychologist and professor of Education in Cardiff, who published the seminal work Youth.

My time as an undergraduate coincided with the depression in the 1930s. Even though many students who were children of coalminers were undernourished, I remember clearly how the purchasing of required books and other materials remained a priority with them.

A different kind of recollection is when Edward Prince of Wales, came to the university for the unveiling of his statue and that of his father, King George V on the west front of the old building. I remember one student shouting “Hello, Eddie!” - to which the Prince was not amused.

Although I have been unable to join in the various events celebrating 125 years of Cardiff University, I shall be with you all in spirit, and savour the still vivid memories of my undergraduate years.

Read more ‘My Cardiff’ Stories…

More ‘My Cardiff’ Stories…
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