New building provides 200 beds to meet growth
On 6 October 2006, St Cuthbert’s Society opened a brand-new purpose built hall of residence, named Brooks House. Brooks House was completed and handed over by Laing O’Rourke in mid-September 2006 and is named after one of St. Cuthbert’s longest serving Principals, Professor Leslie Brooks, who was Principal of the Society from 1963 to 1985.
Standing on the Parsons Field site, alongside the River and close to the Society’s Boat House, the new residence was officially opened by Professor Brooks’ daughter, Dinah Michie.
Brooks House (or “Brooks” as the residence is now affectionately know by Cuth’s students) has its own bar and JCR facilities. The new site does not replace the Bailey, and the Society and Junior Common Room is committed to staying on the historic Bailey and there are plans to improve facilities there.
Brooks was born in Portarlington, Ireland in 1919 and after working as an Assistant Lecturer and Lecturer in Belfast, Manchester and Sheffield, he was appointed as Reader in Spanish at Durham. Not long after becoming Principal of St. Cuthbert’s, he was appointed Professor of Spanish, and kept these significant responsibilities over the following years when playing a major role in the management of the University. Having been Pro-Vice-Chancellor for five years, he was elected Sub-Warden of the University in 1979. After retirement in 1985, he continued to live in Durham until his death in 1993. For some years now, the Department of Spanish has been running the Leslie Brooks Lecture series, in association with St Cuthbert’s Society, in memory of the founder of their Department.
A wise and witty Principal
Tony Wells, President of St Cuthbert’s Society from 1965-66, said: “Leslie Brooks epitomized St. Cuthbert’s, and influenced enormously a whole generation of young people. He was wonderfully wise, witty, welcoming to all those who shared his zest for life and values, with an uncanny and unique sense of what was intrinsically good for St. Cuthbert’s. His humanity and St. Cuthbert’s Society’s spirit became, indeed, the finest blend.”
Mark Rowland, who took over the presidency of the St. Cuthbert’s Society in 1967-68, further commented: “Leslie Brooks fully understood the peculiar nature of St. Cuthbert’s Society. It had long provided the University with a means to accommodate talented students who were not necessarily at ease with a seamless progression from school to college. As a new principal, he identified instinctively with this outlook and was shrewd enough to draw on the experience of those already steeped in the Society, as he put it, from the Resident Tutor to the gardener.”
Brooks House is the University’s newest building to be opened this year and provides self catering and en-suite accommodation for 196 students. The development includes a café/bar, social space, a Resident Tutor flat and accommodation for disabled students.
The Society can now guarantee college accommodation to all first year students, with the choice of self catering, part catered and fully catered accommodation. We are the only college that is able to provide this range of options, and we combine the 350 rooms at Parsons Field with space for 119 students on South Bailey, in Durham’s historic core.
Ruth Charles, a final year student at Durham University in 2006 (and now a member of the Association), said: “Brooks House has given Cuth’s students the opportunity to live-in again in their final year. I feel proud to be able to say that I am one of the first Cuth’s students to have lived in the new accommodation and it’s great to have an en-suite room! The location is really handy for all parts of the University including the main Society buildings on South Bailey, as well as Elvet and Science site lecture theatres. Brooks House also includes Cuth’s Café Bar and a JCR with pool table so there is lots of space for socialising.”
Principal of St. Cuthbert’s, Roy Boyne, added: “Brooks House is the latest part of a journey taken by generations of St. Cuthbert’s students over more than 100 years. It has been good to recognise publicly the part that Leslie Brooks played in all of this, and to welcome his family into our midst for this occasion.”