By Lucy Irving, second year student
Leech Hall, named after Sir William Leech whose charity funded its build, was first opened in 1987 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and has since been a fantastic social space for members of the college…
Before the hall was built, Principal Etchells (Principal of the college in the 1970s) remembers:
“There was a strong sense of the inadequacy of our buildings socially, and the need for a multipurpose hall, plans for which figured in council discussions from the mid-1970s.”
Now the hall acts as a multipurpose space. It holds various formals throughout the year with a Pride, Jazz, Law, Presidents’, and Fairtrade Formal all being held in Epiphany term 2022 alone! Formals are a great way of bringing together all members of the college so that first years can socialise with finalists and bonds can be formed between students studying different subjects.
In addition to formals, Leech Hall can be totally transformed for larger events within college. For example, the annual Bailey Ball was held in November for the first time in 2 years! With a Moulin Rouge Theme, the hall was decorated beyond recognition and hosted multiple bands (Kinky Jeff and the Swingers anyone!?) and even a silent disco. The hall was designed by Tony Hyland of Hayton, Lee & Braddock and built by G.W. Lazenby. It is named after William Leech, the benefactor of a northeast charity.
There is no doubt that Leech Hall has met many, many needs in its 35 years, not least as a “cross-over point” between John’s and Cranmer, where shared activities take place. In the past it has also lent itself as a meeting point for shared worship between the two halls and more recently as a host to college parties and, as Peter Forster (senior tutor 1983-91) recalls, “ubiquitous discos”. During Freshers Week, when I was a Frep, the whole college was decorated to welcome the incoming Freshers and Leech Hall was no exception. On the final evening of Freshers Week, it was host to the Freshers Mega Party which had a Back to School Theme. As pictured, even Olaf was in on the action!
Quotes from alumni found in “Fides Nostra Victoria: A Portrait of St John’s College, Durham” by Amabel Craig.