Cruddas: What was it like during the pandemic?

Written by Lucy Irving Second year student Lucy reflects on her time spent in Cruddas during the pandemic as the building approaches its 109 year anniversary.

Cruddas House was first opened on the 14th of March 1913 after Lady Cruddas donated money to build a new accommodation block. Over 100 years later, in September 2020, I was lucky enough to move into Cruddas and call it my home for a year…

When I got my acceptance email from St John’s, the first thing I found out was that I would be staying in Cruddas accommodation block. After some frantic googling, I discovered that it was…

‘An idiosyncratic building – entrance on the top floor, and descending down towards the river with rooms varying from the pokey to the palatial’

(Richard Horton, John’s student 1983-6)

Little did I know this topsy-turvy building would become a place where many memories would be made with a diverse range of people. Among the 40 people living in Cruddas in 2020-2021 were Durham-born residents, international students, musicians, mathematicians and much more!

Alumnus David Grieve (1970-4) reminisces that ‘Cruddas corridors were covered in linoleum, leading to frequent water fights, often with binfuls of water sloshing around the floor!’ Whilst the bottom floor, known as Cruddas A, still has this signature lino flooring (perhaps since the laundry room is situated here!) the top three corridors are now carpeted. It was Cruddas C where I resided, and I spent many hours sat in this blue carpeted corridor.

From lockdown birthdays to late night chats, with restrictions preventing mixing of households, the Cruddas C corridor became a central space. Hours were spent playing card games and watching Bake Off. We posed for pictures before formals, held wine and cheese nights and I even proposed! The room in Cruddas B, holding a few old lockers and the fire exit, became a place where weddings were held!

(College marriages, of course!)

As I moved out of St John’s and into my second year, I became a Frep and welcomed dozens of Freshers into the College. It wasn’t until I was showing these first years the way to their Cruddas rooms that the realisation dawned that it was no longer my home anymore, but a whole new year group’s. Whilst I no longer live in College, the time I spent in Cruddas will stay in my memories for a lifetime. More importantly, the friendships I forged within those four walls are a reminder that university life is so much more than academics or where you have come from, instead it as about the people we meet and happy times we share.

Alumni quotes from “Fides Nostra Victoria: A Portrait of St John’s College, Durham” by Amabel Craig

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