Freshers' Gate & Frank Godfer Hall

Everybody who has visited Keele Hall has walked through the little pedestrian gate that leads into Keele Hall courtyard. We have all read the mysterious inscription "Freshers Gate" above our heads, but few know its true origin and meaning. Now - after nearly fifty years - the truth can be told.

Who painted "Freshers Gate"

keelehall-old The label "Freshers Gate" was the brainchild of Mike Vaughan (1961) and painted during one of my first three years as a student: 1957-1960. Mike, who was a contemporary student, did the painting while I held the paint pot. At the same time, we also painted the words 'Frank Godfer Hall' - a play on the University's motto 'Thanke God For All' - on the entrance to the now-demolished RAF Hut which was used as an annexe to the Refectory. That one was my brainchild. Again I held the paint pot for Mike. These labels were both put there at a time when buildings were being rather pompously labelled and I guess we were poking fun at the establishment. 

John Grundy (1961 and staff 1963-2003)

Apostrophe catastrophe?

freshers-gate-5 "This story revived interest in the "Freshers Gate" sign. After enduring but fading bdaly for nearly fifty years, it was repainted to its former glory in 2009 by a University signwriter. The eagle-eyed will notice that now is there is an apostrophe on one side and no apostrophe on the other. In my view there should either be no apostrophe or it read thus: Freshers' Gate. It so happens that it now reads Freshers Gate on one side and Fresher's Gate on the other. The explanation came finally came from a 2015 graduate who chooses to remain nameless in 2016."

John Easom (1981)

"The apostrophe on Freshers Gate was in fact added by me, assisted by a watchman from my course in mid-2013 and it had been absent up to that point. We felt the sign should have the apostrophe to be correct, but it was only weeks later we noticed the sign was painted on both We felt the sign should have the apostrophe to be correct, but it was only weeks later we noticed the sign was painted on both sides, and never got round to adding the second. I hope I don't get withdrawn retrospectively from my course."

Anonymous (2015)

And to show that legends grow quickly and can change just as quickly...

"Freshers Gate was painted on by the Women's Hockey Club one night between 1961-63 after the opening was made into Keele Hall courtyard to make it safer for pedestrians. Up till then, one diced with death in the form of staff cars which raced in and out of the courtyard. At about that time, there was a visit from the UGC and the main buildings of the university were renamed in honour of some of the members of the UGC - the conference hall became the WMB and the New Teaching Block, the Tawney building. The hockey club named a temporary dining hut The Franke Godfer Hall as a parody of the Keele motto and I believe that Freshers' Gate happened at the same time? Can anyone else remember? I can't remember if we tried to make the following year's freshers walk through it or not."

Hilary Lainé (1963)