OUS Manchester

 

The Manchester group organises several events for members each year – typically these include an informal meal and a speaker from Oxford, a May Bank Holiday walk, a visit to a place of historic interest and a lecture in the autumn.

OUS Manchester are planning the following:

Autumn Lecture 2020 - Wednesday 25 November

The group's Autumn Lecture will be given by Professor Brian Sutton, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at King’s College, London. He will speak on Rosalind Franklin and the Double Helix.

This year is the centenary of the birth of Rosalind Franklin, best known for her role in the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. It was Franklin who took the iconic X-ray photograph of DNA, known as Photograph 51, which enabled Watson and Crick to solve “the secret of life”. Franklin was initially all but written out of the history of the discovery, and although today her reputation has been rightfully restored, few appreciate that at the time of her death at the tragically young age of 37, she was establishing a new field of science of immense importance today – the structure of viruses. 

Brian Sutton studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and then trained in X-ray crystallography for his doctorate, investigating the structures of biological macromolecules such as antibodies. He held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in Oxford before moving to King’s. His research uses X-ray crystallography to determine the detailed structures of antibodies involved in allergic diseases, in particular asthma, and his work has led to the development of a new therapeutic agent, now in clinical trials. He is based at the Guy’s Hospital Campus in the Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics, which traces its history back to the MRC Biophysics Research Unit in which Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins worked on DNA under its first Director, John Randall. In 2015 Brian was scientific advisor to the West End play “Photograph 51” by Anna Ziegler, starring Nicole Kidman, which told Rosalind’s story.

Booking is now open for members. If you would like to join this event and are not currently a member, please email the group's Secretary, giving your contact details, Alumni number, Oxford college, subject and year of matriculation so that the group can add you to their mailing list and send you the details.

2021 AGM

The arrangements for the 2021 AGM are difficult to predict at the moment – a virtual AGM and talk are looking increasingly likely. As usual we intend to invite a speaker with Oxford connections.

The following OUS Manchester events have had to be postponed from 2020 due to the current restrictions. They are now expected to take place in 2021:

May Walk

A walk north of Manchester is planned.

Visit to Gladstone Library

This will be a guided visit to Gladstone's Library in Hawarden near Chester. This Grade 1-listed building makes available the former Prime Minister's collection of 30,000 books, and is his national memorial. The day will include visits to some associated buildings and to St Deiniol's Church, which houses the Gladstone memorial chapel. 

An exploration of the geology of Miller's Dale

Millers Dale is an area full of interest, including fossiliferous limestone, lava flows and some mining evidence. The exploration will be led by Oxford geologist Richard Langthorp. 

More details of these events will be published once the group can be sure of the dates.

Invitations will be sent out to their membership approximately six weeks before each event. 
 

To find out more about the group's events, please email the group's Secretary, giving your contact details, Alumni number, Oxford college, subject and year of matriculation so that they can add you to their mailing list and keep you informed.

The group's committee welcomes suggestions for future events. Please email the group with any ideas.

Freshers' Meeting - September 2020

The group's annual Freshers’ Meeting had to move online this year, but the event was a success and the group had many appreciative comments. They assembled a panel of eight undergraduates to advise the freshers, and three spoke about various aspects of Oxford life, including time management, making friends and support for disabilities.

manchester freshers

There was plenty of time for questions, both in full session and in smaller break-out groups. The undergraduates spoke very warmly of the measures put in place by the university and colleges to keep them safe and this was supported by two of the panel who were already back in Oxford.
The picture shows the meeting hosts and the panel preparing to meet the freshers

May Walk 2020, Geology Walk, Summer Visit 2020

These were all in our programme for 2020 but have had to be postponed to 2021. Details of the 2019 May Walk and Summer visit will be found below.

AGM and Informal Dinner - February 2020

After a short and efficient AGM, 56 alumni and their guests settled down to dinner. Conversation flowed freely and enthusiastically in a friendly and informal atmosphere. Then came the highlight of the evening, our speaker Professor Grevel Lindop, alumnus of Wadham and formerly Professor of Romantic and Early Victorian Studies at Manchester University. Grevel was an adviser on cultural history to the consortium which enabled the Lakes to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Professor Grevel Lindop speaking at the front of the dining room

His talk was entitled The Lake District: Literary Landscape, World Heritage and Local Future and opened by explaining how, from the eighteenth-century, writers had been drawn there by new roads and the types of landscape romanticised in art. There was audible amusement at the idea that these were then considered best contemplated in a mirrored dish, with the viewer’s back to the actual scenery. Ever since, there has been a continuing need to balance the views of those who live and farm there with those who regard such an area of outstanding beauty as belonging to all, with all the pressures that visitors cause. The most recent controversy concerns a plan to put motorised houseboats on Grasmere. Most of us were familiar with the area but Professor Lindop cast new light and provoked much thought.

Autumn lecture - November 2019 - The Crowd and the Cosmos

A large audience was intrigued and entertained by a fast-moving lecture given by Chris Lintott, Professor of Astrophysics and co-presenter of the BBC’s long-running programme The Sky At Night. His talk was illustrated by remarkable images - the sunrise photograph taken from the surface of Mars by a robot camera, and showing the Earth and the Moon as planets, was particularly memorable.

Chris Lintott delivering his lecture

Chris Lintott explained the difficulty of analysing the immense amount of data which is now being produced by telescopes and other instruments. A project to engage online volunteers to analyse data has grown beyond all expectations, and diversified into various projects with similarly large data sets to analyse. The project, now known as Zooniverse, has nearly two million registered volunteers, including children as young as five spotting penguins in the Antarctic, and a car mechanic in Australia whose astronomical discovery has been of international importance.

An interesting and good-humoured question and answer session followed, although some may have been surprised at Chris Lintott’s assumption that a Manchester audience would not recognise the sun if they saw it.

Freshers' meeting - September 2019

A room of freshers listening to a presentation

Our meeting for freshers from schools in the Manchester area attracted a particularly lively response this year. Over 40 students on the brink of their Oxford careers arrived in high spirits to meet each other and to ask questions of a panel of current undergraduates or very recent graduates. The panel tackled questions on work, social life and the cost of living with humour and sound common sense, and talked about their own experiences of coping with the first tutorial and the first formal dinner.

We are very grateful to Eversheds Sutherland in Manchester for providing an attractive venue, generous hospitality, and a warm welcome from some of their own Oxonian colleagues.

Guided tour of Biddulph Old Hall, Staffordshire - Saturday 7 September

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, a group of members and their guests were given a guided tour of Biddulph Old Hall by its owners, Nigel Daly and Brian Vowles.

Our guides gave us a comprehensive description of the history and architecture of the building and of its occupants which was both erudite and generously sprinkled with humour. Highlights included the priest hole and escape tunnel, the huge medieval fireplace, a Buddhist shrine, cannon ball damage inflicted during the Civil War and the panoramic views from the garden.

The gardens and view from outside Biddulph Old Hall
A view of Biddulph Old Hall with the entrance gates in the foreground
The Mansion Gateway at Biddulph Old Hall

 

The history of the Old Hall goes back to the 14th century when it was a hunting lodge. Later it became the residence of the Biddulph family and prospered until the owners supported the wrong side in the Civil War. However, the Biddulphs continued to occupy the property until the late 1800s when it was sold to the Bateman family one of whom, Robert, occupied it for around sixteen years. (Robert is the subject of Nigel’s book entitled The Lost Pre-Raphaelite). Thereafter, the Hall suffered a long slow decline until it was bought by Nigel and Brian early this century. After a lot of hard work, they are now well advanced in a sympathetic restoration of the Hall to its former glory whilst creating a very comfortable residence and home for themselves.

The visit was rounded off by Nigel and Brian serving us a 'scrumptious' tea with lots of delicious cakes which we consumed in the warm, sunny garden or in the splendour of the Hall. We had been so enthralled by our visit that there seemed to be a reluctance to leave. However, after several of us had acquired copies of Nigel’s book and various memorabilia of the event, we slowly drifted away, content that we had had such an enjoyable afternoon.

Amongst the comments that were received afterwards, one couple wrote, 'We rated this one of the very best visits of this kind that we have ever made. What a hidden gem'.

May Day Walk 2019

The annual May Day walk was held in the Adlington and Bollington areas of eastern Cheshire. At 9.45am, 18 of us met, on time, in the car park of The Windmill, the restaurant where we were later to have lunch. Despite the forecasts of a dry day, it was cold and wet as we started walking. However, the weather soon cleared up and it behaved itself for the rest of the walk.

A group photo of 17 walkers stood next to a trig point on Bakestonedale Moor

The route taken was along the Middlewood Way and Macclesfield Canal before crossing through meadowland to the start of the 500ft climb up to Bakestonedale Moor. After admiring the views from the top of the moor, we descended onto the side of Andrew’s Knob, from where there were clear views across the Cheshire Plain and to the foothills of the Pennines. Then it was downhill through a ridge of pastureland and woods to the 'donkey bridge', a reputedly ancient unparapeted stone bridge that would be just about big enough to allow a small donkey to pass over it. The final stretch of the walk went through some of the older areas of Bollington before re-joining the canal beside the handsome Adelphi Mill for a short walk back to The Windmill. There we were joined by several other members who hadn’t taken part in the walk and together we had a long and very enjoyable lunch.

The photograph above shows 17 of the walkers on the descent from the moor. Our thanks to Stephanie Pearl, the 18th walker, for having taking the photograph.

OUS Manchester is keen to engage with recent Oxford graduates in the area, particularly those who graduated in 2000 or later. Both a LinkedIn and a Facebook group have been set up to assist this.

LinkedIn/Professional Networking Group

Gareth Davies has established the Oxford Alumni Network - Manchester Group on LinkedIn to help alumni make connections for networking, mentoring and career development as well as for socialising. The group continues to grow and now has over 280 alumni.

The aims of connecting our younger alumni include:

  • social/professional networking, particularly providing an immediate and friendly network of people for alumni who have recently relocated back to, or moved to, Manchester
  • opportunities to be mentored by more seasoned members of the alumni group in the same field of work
  • opportunities to mentor more recent alumni in the same field of work
  • to provide career advice/opportunities to recent graduates looking for work in Manchester

On Wednesday 2 October we hosted a younger alumni networking drinks event at the Dakota Hotel in Manchester city centre. Committee members Sarah Herdan and Gareth Davies were present along with around a dozen alumni with matriculation years ranging from 1998 to 2014 – and colleges represented including Oriel, Keble, Mansfield, Somerville, Corpus Christi, St Hugh’s, St Hilda’s and Lady Margaret Hall.

Memories of Oxford were shared as well as keen discussion of what everyone was doing with their degrees now, and their many different careers post-graduation. A group of six were still there at 10pm – mainly firing questions at one of the guests who had until recently held a high profile role in public office!

We have held two previous events – both in 2017 in Manchester city centre – which were well attended and guests commented that it was good for networking purposes and enjoyed chatting with other likeminded individuals, reminiscing about Oxford and talking about life in Manchester.

The group’s LinkedIn webpage

Note: In 2018, LinkedIn reduced the functionality of LinkedIn groups so it is no longer possible to email all members in a group. We are therefore recommending all members of this group to join the main mailing list from where it will be easier to contact them. Please email the group's secretary, giving your contact details together with the same Oxford details as above.

Facebook

Dr Zixi You has set up a Facebook page for Oxford University Alumni living and working in or near Manchester, who are warmly welcomed to check our website, join our group and many exciting events!

The Facebook group also continues to grow and now has over 30 members. The group has had several past events, including a visit to Manchester Art Gallery and lunches in Manchester and Liverpool.

For more details and to join the group, contact Zixi You via Facebook providing your Alumni number, college, subject and matriculation year.

The group's Facebook page

If you live in or near Greater Manchester and wish to be kept in touch with OUS Manchester group events, please email the group's Secretary and ask to be added to the contact list.