History of Allen Hall

This is an edited version of Allen Hall’s Wikipedia entry….

Allen Hall is the smallest of the undergraduate student halls of residence which constitute the University of Manchester’s Fallowfield Campus, with just 120 students.

Allen Hall — named in honour of the Lancashire-born Cardinal William Allen — comprises three accommodation blocks: Newman, Teilhard, and More – centred around the main building where the chapel, office, dining room, television room, bar, laundrette and conference facilities are located.

The hall is located approximately half a mile from the main Fallowfield campus, and is positioned opposite Platt Fields Park and Manchester High School for Girls.

The hall was opened in 1961 and September 2011 saw the 50th anniversary —celebrated with a weekend event. An Alumni Association was set up at this event which aims to keep former residents in contact with each other.

History

The hall was owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford until 1979, but was licensed by the University of Manchester and initially accepted only male undergraduate residents who were students of that university (or UMIST). The first female students were admitted in the 1995-96 academic year.

There was no requirement that students had to be Catholic, but there was a large chapel on the first floor of the main block, where Mass was celebrated on Sundays by priests from the Catholic Chaplaincy, and the Catholic religion was an important feature of hall life.

Former residents include Dave Smolira, who was President of the JCR and later went on to become the Provincial of the English Province of the Society of Jesus. His deputy, Dermot Preston SJ, was also a former Allen Hall resident and became the new Provincial of the (now) British Province of the Society of Jesus in 2011.

The blocks – Newman, Teilhard and More – are named after prominent Catholics from history. During its time as a Catholic Hall, there was a strong – and some might say insular – culture and ‘Platt Fields Awards’ were given at the formal dinner at the end of each term to those residents who had not served the hall community sufficiently well in the eyes of the JCR Committee. The awards were given immediately after the dinner. This involved the unfortunate recipients being taken across to the nearby Platt Fields Boating Lake and thrown in.

Facilities

The hall has its own student-run bar, a lively common room, a music room and a large chapel which is now used for parties and activities. The hall provides breakfast and an evening meal for students, Monday to Friday, although each floor of rooms has its own kitchen, which can be used freely by students to cook whenever they desire. Formal dinners are held once a month throughout ordinary term time where smart clothing is worn and a short speech delivered.

Allen Hall Club

Being Fallowfield Campus’s only student-run bar allows for much flexibility in the way it is run. Each year the student body elects a Bar Steward, Bar Secretary, and Bar Treasurer to oversee its operation and ensure its continuing success. Opening hours are from 8.00pm to 11.00pm every night of the week but are subject to change for special events. Bartending behind the bar is done on a completely voluntary basis with drink vouchers given to the students as compensation. This allows the bar to cater to the hall’s relatively small population and keep prices down at the same time. It also provides the volunteers with invaluable bartending experience if they are looking for a part-time job elsewhere. The bar’s stock is always rotating in different products and it is not uncommon for students to request their own favourites to be brought in.

The 2008–2009 academic year saw a renovation of the bar. The bar was fully painted and improvements made to both its facilities: including the purchase of a 37-inch LCD television, Nintendo Wii, large sofas, and a table football machine. Also introduced was a cocktail menu featuring 74 cocktails.

Charity events

On 25 March 2006 some 58 residents of the hall gathered to break the Guinness World Record for the ‘Longest Line of Dancing Drag Queens.’ The title had formerly been held by students of Nottingham University and stood at 49. The event raised approximately £600 for Christie Hospital in Withington. The record has since been broken elsewhere.

Furthermore, Allen Hall regularly raises more money for charitable causes than any other hall of residence in Manchester.

Each year residents of Allen Hall stage a Children in Need fundraiser by attempting to stop traffic on adjacent Wilmslow Road, requesting donations from passing vehicles and pedestrians. It has become such a well-known event that many drivers come ready with their money in hand. On average, between £1000-£2000 is raised each year on a single morning. The fire alarm is set off promptly at 7.00am to signal the start of the event and students typically participate in their nightwear.

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