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Letter: Do You Remember 1968 Sit In at Guildford School of Art?

Published on: 24 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 24 Jul, 2014

From Callum Burke of Evans Woolfe Media

The Guildford School of Art Sit In 1968. Were you there, can you provide any information?

Evans Woolfe Media is an educational film production company currently developing a series of films for GSCE history students on the topic of “protest”. The films are commissioned by BBC Learning and will be used as part of a freely available teaching and learning resource for schools coinciding with the new History curriculum.

bbc_learning_100x60Evans Woolfe is interested in covering the 1968 protests in Britain as part of our third film in this series. I am writing this letter to appeal to anyone who experienced or was involved in a protest movement, rally or demonstration during the late 1960s or 1968 specifically. We are particularly interested in those who had experience of or were involved in the Guilford Art school sit in and related events as case study examples of protest.

We will be taking a budding young historian to investigate local people, their stories and artefacts to unfold the history behind the international protest movement sweeping the international stage in 1968. Any information, stories, contacts, photographs or film would be extremely useful in bringing the topic of protest and the 1968 protests to life for a GCSE student. All help is greatly appreciated.

To contact us you can phone on 02087441012.

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Responses to Letter: Do You Remember 1968 Sit In at Guildford School of Art?

  1. Chris Upshon Reply

    September 24, 2014 at 2:23 am

    I was present all through the sit in at Guildford. I was taken to court by Surrey County Couuncil. I was president of the action committee that replaced the dissolved student union.

    I am in contact with a few other former students who were also involved. What information is being sought?

  2. Bryan Jones Reply

    December 1, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I was a student at Guildford Art School in 1968 in the Film and TV Department and was involved with the sit-in. I am still working as a freelance film editor after 40 + years. Can I be of help with any info from the time?

    • Geraldine Mull (nee Gulliver) Reply

      January 15, 2017 at 12:16 am

      I was a student at Guildford School of Art in1 968 and I’m interested in sharing ideas about that time.

      I remember the sit in. I was a foundation student in the first year and I think it is interesting to keep in touch about the events at the time and how important it was for everyone.

  3. Brian Dunce Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I was a tutor in graphics, (having taught there for two years or so).

    A number of the staff thought that it was a vital situation for staff to show solidarity with the students questioning of their education.

    I had been responsible with other students for the setting up of the Student Union in 1957/8. It was always an opportunity rather than a threat. But the fear of being challenged was too much for the school senior staff and County Hall to accommodate and engage in.

    I was year one tutor, and being fired, with a wife and three-year-old daughter, was a tough choice to make. But when the entire staff were brought together, and told by the principal that those who were loyal, and would do what ever he said, would leave the room. I found that all the staff I respected were still there, and numbered some 40.

    All the time servers were out of the room. There is so much to tell. I was lucky and resumed my free-lance practice and then went on to become a senior lecturer at Chelsea School of Art, 1969 and head of Department at Corsham 1979.

    There was a programme called ‘Cause for Concern’ filmed 1968/9.

  4. Andrew Wallace Reply

    January 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I was one of the ‘Guildford Forty’ and ‘sat in’ as it were through many meetings; sacked then reinstated.

    Collective memories are different; making them into an actual order of events difficult to unravel as it were.

    If you would like me to tell you mine I am willing to try and dig up that part of my past.

    [Ed: Please email your memories to David Rose at]

  5. Michael Dowding Reply

    July 31, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Yes. I was there the whole time and was one of the students served with a writ for trespass by the SCC. We finally settled at the Royal Courts of Justice when the judge ruled Surrey County Council out of order.

    Many other anecdotes and stories to tell. Now living in Victoria Australia.

    Happy to help if relevant.

  6. John Norton Reply

    June 6, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Hello Callum,

    I saw your request for information about the Guildford sit in. I may be too late!

    My father, Peter Norton, was the head of liberal studies at the art school at the time, and was one of the Guildford minus Forty exhibition in London, that I attended as did John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

    A person you might like to get in touch with too is Dave Bonsall, I will check his e-mail – it was, but he is in touch with my sister who had been at Guildford before going to Chelsea and is more in touch with him than I am.

    Dave is writing about the Guildford event.

    I am interested in this since we are doing a Wikipedia entry on my late father, related to exhibitions he had of his work. He died in 1995, but we have gone on exhibiting his work.

    I would in any case be interested to know more about the Guildford sit in and its fall out. I was lucky and went to the Architectural Association which was the complete antithesis of what Guildford was – the students to this day choose.

  7. Mike Edwards Reply

    November 14, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Yes, I was there too (final year: Film and TV Department), originally as chairman and treasurer of the Student Union that was dissolved at the very beginning to be “overtaken” by the Student Action Committee.

    Although almost all Student Union Committee members resigned at that point. I did not, although I supported what the Action Committee was doing, and was one of those who, that first evening, went up to Hornsey Art School to learn how to run a successful sit-in.

    I was there for the whole period, although not involved with organising the political side of things (I was considered too conservative). I did help out where I could, including running late evening film shows in the refectory, projecting on to six canteen tabletops set vertically to create a screen. When the Stills Department, were using the photo press (a few seconds at a time), it would put an additional load on the generator (national grid power had been cut off) and the projector would slow down as would the sound.

    Having remained as (democratically elected) Students Union treasurer, I was very quietly informed at one point by the School Bursar, that Surrey County Council was about to freeze the Union’s assets. So the very next morning I organised the purchase of a large professional printing machine and paper which the Action Committee could use (as could the school later on).

    I am happy to try and help if I can.

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