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Mounting fears over street harassment in Bradford’s student quarter spark new campaign

A NEW campaign is under way to tackle the problem of street harassment and keep Bradford students safe.

Bradford Hate Crime Alliance has announced it is dedicating the next 12 months to a major awareness campaign in the city’s Great Horton area.

The Alliance will work alongside the University of Bradford, Bradford College, West Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, the police and Bradford Council.

Action comes amid growing concerns that students are at risk. A recent student union survey revealed more than eight out of ten students have experienced harassment in that area, said Jed Dinn of the Alliance.

Kingston 2016’s Complete University Guide named the city’s campus area as the most high risk university neighbourhood in Yorkshire.

The Alliance wants students to speak up about the problem and report incidents. Over the past two days, its campaigners have spoken to more than 1,700 students. A number of events have been lined up to highlight the campaign, including plans for students to form a human chain from Bradford College to the Great Horton traffic lights in Legrams Lane.Campaign supporters are also visiting community centres, places of worships and businesses to crank up awareness and beat street harassment, said Mr Dinn.

“We’re determined to reduce hate crime figures in this area. Students come from all over the world to study in Bradford and we don’t want them to feel unsafe.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “No-one should have to live with or fear harassment, unwanted contact or abuse. The core focus of this campaign is to raise awareness of these issues and the support available across the community, prevent incidents from happening in the first place and encourage swift reporting to the proper agencies.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who is supporting the campaign said: “No-one should have to live with or fear harassment, unwanted contact or abuse. The core focus of this campaign is to raise awareness of these issues and the support available across the community, prevent incidents from happening in the first place and encourage swift reporting to the proper agencies.

“I am a big believer and advocate of partnership working and this is a very good example. Bradford Hate Crime Alliance are doing some really valuable work and have linked in with the police, council, college, university, local businesses including the night-time economy, and most importantly the students themselves. I am a former graduate of Bradford University and also regularly visit the Bradford College and want to ensure students, visitors and the local community are as harmonious as possible.”

Both the university and college have hate crime reporting centres on campus but in case of an emergency 999 should be dialled or 101 if it is a non-emergency.

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‘Shots were getting closer’

Lisa Marie Husby
Image caption Lisa was one of 650 people on Utoya island when Breivik came ashore

When Anders Breivik opened fire on youngsters attending a summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya, he carried out a massacre that to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman anywhere in the world.

Among those taking part in the Labour Party youth camp was 17-year-old Lisa Marie Husby.

She was one of 650 young people gathered on the tiny island on 22 July 2011, when Breivik appeared dressed as a police officer and began shooting.

However, minutes before he arrived, Lisa had been on the phone to her mother in the wake of an explosion that had killed eight people in the centre of Oslo.

Lisa had been telling her mother that she was safe and that there was no need to worry because she was miles away from the Norwegian capital.

‘Next target’

She said: “I wanted to tell her that I was far away from Oslo and I was safe. But as I talked to her, I heard the police cars leaving our part of Norway to go and help in Oslo and I told her this and she said ‘I think you guys are the next target’.

“She just had a gut feeling and I said ‘there’s no way, we’re on an island, we’re safe’ and then I hung up.

“Then a couple of minutes later I heard what I thought were fireworks.”

Far right extremist Breivik went on to kill 69 youngsters, 33 of whom were under the age of 18. In total, he murdered 77 people that day, including those in Oslo.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in bomb and gun attacks

Speaking to Stephen Jardine on Radio Scotland‘s Kaye Adams programme, Lisa said in the hours before the shooting began, people had been considering going home because of the weather.

She said: “It was very rainy and usually the island is beautiful, but this day it was flooding.

“A lot of people were thinking about maybe going home, because we were sleeping in tents, and a lot of rain is not good for that.

“But everyone was in good spirits and we had the first female prime minister of Norway coming to see us and later we were going to have a disco so everyone was happy and having a good time.”

‘Horrible joke’

Then news of the terror attack in Oslo started to filter through to those in the camp.

Lisa said: “Some people wanted to go back to Oslo because they couldn’t reach their family back there.

“But we realised it wasn’t possible to go back to Oslo at that point because everything was closed – no buses, no trains or anything. We said the best thing to do was stay.”

It was then that Lisa spoke to her mother and tried to reassure her about their position on the island.

She was with a group of a few dozen people, sheltered by a forest, who were about 50m (164ft) away when Breivik arrived on the island claiming to be there for security.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Locals gathered boats near the island to try and help those jumping into the water to escape

Then she began hearing what she thought was fireworks.

“Everyone was in shock at first, and I think we thought this is a horrible joke, this is too early to try and scare us.

“But then I realised seeing everyone who actually saw the gunman fleeing, that this was actually not a joke.”

Lisa said her group were standing next to their tents looking confused by the sound of gunfire.

She said: “I don’t think they understood what was going on. A lot of the people who actually saw what happened were fleeing, but this group were sheltered and they couldn’t see what was happening, so they were just standing there not knowing what to do.”

She added: “This island is very small. You can walk across it in 10 minutes. It’s a lot of cliffs and trees everywhere. At the time, I didn’t even think that I could get off the island by swimming, I didn’t even think that I was on an island – I just thought I have to run and hide.”

‘Kept running’

Lisa gathered the group and then ran through the forest to a cabin that had previously been used as a medical base.

She said: “By the time we got to the cabin, they had actually prepared for attack. They had had a drill earlier that week in case of attack so they had already barricaded the doors and blocked the windows by the time we got into the cabin.

“We managed to get in, but then I got completely shocked and scared and thought I needed to get back out.

“They said: ‘if you go we will lock the door behind you’, but I still kept running.

“And then I saw this girl who was shot and I decided to go back in because I realised how serious things were then.”

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Terrified youngsters hid in the woods, with some jumping into the water to escape the hail of bullets.

In total, 47 students, including Lisa, barricaded themselves into the cabin, hiding as best they could.

“At this point there was so many gunshots because of the automatic gun he was using, so we thought there was more than one shooter.

“We just hid under beds and tried to get into the small rooms inside the cabin and shelter ourselves from what was going on outside. We could hear the gunshots getting closer and further away and then suddenly they were very close.”

Lisa and the other students heard Breivik try the door. When he could not get in he fired two shots through the window before walking off.

Frantic calls

“We didn’t know how long it would take the police to get to the island,” Lisa said. “We could hear boats outside, but that turned out to be civilians helping out the people who had fled or who had tried to get out by swimming.

“And we could also hear helicopters, but that turned out to be news helicopters.”

The 47 students spent more than four terrifying hours inside the cabin.

During that time they were receiving frantic calls from their families, who had warned them that the gunman was reportedly posing as a police officer.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Breivik shot 69 people dead on the island of Utoya during his rampage

The group had also decided that if Breivik entered the cabin they would lie still and pretend to be dead.

Lisa said: “The last message that I got from my family at the time was ‘don’t trust the police they say online that he’s dressed as the police so don’t trust anyone who says that they’re from the police’.

“When we were just waiting, it got very quiet and the gunshots stopped.

“People started to come out from their hiding places because it got very, very quiet.”

Lisa said that at this point the police suddenly stormed the cabin.

She said: “They told us to get on the floor with our hands above our head. We thought these people are here to kill us.”

Immediately surrendered

Lisa said she later learned that officers stormed the cabin unaware whether or not Breivik was inside with hostages.

“After the police came in we thought we were dead, we said our goodbyes. Then they asked is he here and I thought ‘who’s here – it’s the terrorist‘ and then we understood they’re not here to take us, they’re actually looking for him.”

As soon as he was confronted by officers, Anders Breivik immediately surrendered.

He was later jailed for 21 years following a trial that Lisa decided to attend.

She said she was struck by how small Breivik appeared in the dock and how sad it was that such a person could cause so much harm.

Image caption Lisa now studies at the University of St Andrews after being shown around the town by her partner Richard

For two years following the massacre Lisa tried to continue her life in Norway.

However, in 2013 her ordeal finally took its toll.

She said: “Something this traumatic is not going to leave you ever.

“So trying to go back to being a normal teenager again was very, very difficult.

“It started off with nightmares, a lot of flashbacks to the day. My nightmares sometimes got really, really bad where I woke up in the middle of the night actually believing that I was shot.”

Sense of determination

Lisa said she developed a sense of being on auto-pilot and of being an observer in her own life.

She then spent a year in intensive treatment, during which she learned to talk about her experiences and their aftermath.

She developed a sense of determination that “this one day in July wouldn’t define my entire life.”

Months later, Lisa met her partner Richard in Norway and she began to put her life back together.

She said: “He took me to St Andrews to show me around one day and I just completely fell in love.

“I said ‘maybe this is what I need. I need to get out of Norway and try and study abroad’ and that’s always been a dream.”

In 2016 Lisa began studying at the University of St Andrews in Fife and has since become an advocate for raising awareness about issues relating to mental health.

Cambridge Uni issues Shakespeare trigger warnings

Trevor Peacock (l) as Titus and Hugh Quarshie as Aaron in a BBC production of Titus Andronicus
Image caption Violence in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus might be “upsetting”, students have been warned

Shakespeare contains gore and violence that might “upset” you, Cambridge University students have been warned.

The “trigger warnings” – red triangles with an exclamation mark – appeared on their English lecture timetables.

Lectures including Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus contain “discussion of sexual violence, sexual assault”, the BBC‘s Newsnight programme has learned.

The university said the warnings were “at the lecturer’s own discretion” and “not a faculty-wide policy”.

The lecture timetables were issued to this term’s students by the university’s faculty of English.

More news from Cambridgeshire

“Any session containing material that could be deemed upsetting (and it is not obvious from the title) is now marked with a symbol,” they say.

Image copyright Cambridge University

Among those considered “upsetting” is a lecture on “violence” – which includes a discussion of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and Sarah Kane’s play Blasted.

Alongside the warning symbol, students are told to expect discussion of sexual violence and sexual assault.

Shakespeare’s play includes mutilation, murder and violent rape with similar topics, plus torture and genocide covered in Kane’s play.

Image copyright Cambridge University
Image caption Parts of this term’s English lecture timetable for Cambridge students include “upsetting” themes

Also singled out for a warning is a lecture on “inhabiting the body” which includes a discussion on dismemberment.

Included in this is the Greek playwright Euripides’ The Bacchae, which features scenes of women tearing cattle and humans to pieces.

Image copyright yanjf
Image caption Cambridge University said it was at the lecturer’s own discretion to flag up upsetting material

‘Sensitive material’

Asked about the warnings, one Cambridge academic who did not wish to be named, said their “duty as educators was to prepare students for the world not protect them for three years”.

Prof Dennis Hayes from Derby University’s education faculty said: “Once you get a few trigger warnings, lecturers will stop presenting anything that is controversial… gradually, there is no critical discussion”.

Cambridge University said the English faculty “does not have a policy on trigger warnings”, but added: “Some lecturers indicate that some sensitive material will be covered in a lecture… this is entirely at the lecturer’s own discretion and is in no way indicative of a faculty-wide policy.”

Long-serving Bradford teacher who taught PE to future sports stars retires

A MAN who has taught three generations of students at Bradford’s biggest school is retiring after nearly 40 years.

Derek Radcliffe, 59, will leave Grange Technology College tomorrow after joining as a PE teacher in October 1979, when the school was known as The Grange.

During his time at the school, Mr Radcliffe has taught subjects including PE, maths and art and design and was head of the sixth form for eight years.

He has also taught future sports stars including former Bradford City striker Ian Ormondroyd and boxer Harris Akbar, who this year claimed victory at the England Boxing elite national championships.

His other roles saw him coach the Bradford Boys’ under 19s and the West Yorkshire Schools under 19s football teams, which featured former City midfielder Des Hamilton.

Mr Radcliffe has also undertaken a vast number of additional roles throughout his career, most recently as an achievement leader for the sixth form, where he has developed a successful and growing student leadership programme. This includes a range of charity initiatives and regular support of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal.

His dedication to the role has also seen him recognised with award nominations.

In 2013, he was nominated for the Telegraph & Argus Schools Awards in the secondary teacher category, but missed out on the prize. Last year he was shortlisted for the community hearts awards in the inspirational teacher category.

Mr Radcliffe, of Bingley, plans to spend his retirement developing his interest in art and design, travel and keeping active in the outdoors.

He said: “I have met a lot of amazing youngsters and people through education. What is pleasing is seeing them coming out as rounded young people, ready for life out there.

“My life at Grange has been a journey I have been privileged to have been on.”

Headteacher Alison Mander paid tribute to the dedicated teacher.

She said: “Derek is a true Granger who is widely known and respected in our community.

“His contribution to the school, the teaching profession and most importantly the thousands of young people he has taught, is phenomenal. We all wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Dad spared jail for biting ear of boy, 15, after wading into fight outside school

A FATHER-of-three who waded into a playground fight to defend his son and bit into the ear of a schoolboy was yesterday spared jail.

Mohammed Gulzareen, 38, admitted putting schoolboy Imaan Hussain, then 15, into a headlock and savagely biting his ear after he saw his son, who suffers from a rare blood disorder, involved in a fight outside Bingley Grammar School.

Gulzareen, who was waiting in his car to pick up his son from the school, ran into the fight when he saw his son bleeding on the floor.

Seeing his son surrounded by a group of boys, Gulzareen dived into the fight.

Gerald Hendron QC prosecuting said the incident took place outside the school’s gates on June 15, 2016.

Imaan was sitting on a bench opposite having just finished a chemistry GCSE exam.

Mr Hendron said: “The complainant’s testimony says that he saw a commotion outside of the gates.

“There were two groups of students involved and he didn’t know what was going on at first.

“But then he saw one of his friends being thrown to the ground and ran over to intervene.

“The defendant’s son was involved in the group that he approached. He was knocked to the ground and a witness saw blood around his teeth.

“Witnesses said the defendant’s son was pushed into the path of oncoming traffic and was surrounded and targeted by members of the group.”

Bradford Crown Court heard Gulzareen’s son suffers from a rare blood disorder called Factor 13, which stops his blood from clotting.

Seeing his son in trouble, Gulzareen rush to help him.

Mr Hendron said: “The complainant told police he had been pushed into the defendant by other boys.

“The defendant suddenly went on the offensive at this group that was surrounding him.

“The complainant was put in a headlock and later described the most horrific pain in his left ear.”

Imaan suffered a 3cm wound to the back of his left ear lobe.

It took surgeons three hours to put Imaan’s ear back together using 28 stitches and a skin graft from the youngster’s leg.

The court heard Imaan, now 17, of Bingley, missed three more GCSE exams because of the attack and felt he could not attend the school prom.

Gulzareen, of Langlands Road, Cottingley, Bingley, pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm.

In mitigation, Nick Barker QC pointed out the defendant did not act with pre-meditation or in excessive self defence and this was wholly out-of-character.

Mr Barker said: “The group confronting him was quite capable of presenting a great threat to him.

“He was an ordinary, hard working man who found himself in an extraordinary situation brought about by others and not himself.

“He responded wrongly and rashly but it was while he was under great duress.”

Sentencing Gulzareen to ten months in jail suspended for a year, Judge Durham Hall QC said: “You are 38-years-old. Until the fateful events of the June 15, 2016, you were a man of impeccable character.

“Something happened to cause you to inflict a nasty wound upon a fellow student of your son at Bingley Grammar School.

“But inflict that wound you clearly did on the complainant, a 15-year-old boy.

“Your son suffers from a rare blood disorder in which his clotting mechanism is severely compromised. If he bleeds it is far worse than for the rest of us.

“The crown accepts you intervened to break up the fight and protect your son which any normal father would do.

“It is accepted that the complainant was pushed into you but you would not know that. You were surrounded when you put him into a headlock but then you bit his ear quite savagely.

“I take the view that I must be right to suspend this sentence. You are a credit to society.

“Locking you up would cause a source of grievance to the public but more importantly would have a terrible effect on your family.

“You must try, as all of us who are parents and grandparents must, to measure your response even when you are confronted by the most distressing of circumstances.”

Jo Cox’s family urge Bradford students to stand up against hate crime as cafe is named in her honour

THE sister and parents of murdered MP Jo Cox yesterday urged students in Bradford to speak out against hate crime.

The family embraced each other as Bradford College’s cafe was renamed in Mrs Cox’s honour.

Sister Kim Leadbeater, who was a sports lecturer at the college for 11 years, told students and staff: “Jo’s murder changed our lives for ever.”

But she said that while people couldn’t choose what happened to them, they could choose their response and her family had decided to focus on taking positive action, because “that’s what Jo would want”.

She said she hoped students coming to the cafe would do something similar, using it as a place to plan ways to change society for the better.

She said: “Come to the Jo Cox cafe, but don’t sit and be sad about what happened. Come here and create something positive because that’s exactly what my sister would have wanted.”

Ms Leadbeater, of Gomersal, discussed new crime statistics, published yesterday, which showed a 29 per cent rise in hate crime in a year across England and Wales.

She said: “Our society at the moment feels quite fractured. It feels divided.”

Speaking afterwards to the Telegraph & Argus, Ms Leadbeater said she wanted society to “move beyond tolerance” and really embrace people’s differences.

Mrs Cox’s father, Gordon Leadbeater, of Roberttown, Liversedge, said some of the rise in reported hate crime could be due to people feeling more comfortable going to the authorities, which he described as “a positive change”.

And mother Jean Leadbeater said they wanted to continue driving home the message that people should report hate crime where they see it.

Mr Leadbeater said: “We are hanging together because we are looking at the future, and how we can make a difference. It’s about the younger generation, and that of course includes Jo’s children, who are a big inspiration for us.”

The decision to rename the cafe in Mrs Cox’s honour came from the college’s social work society.

One of the society’s two presidents, student Helen Routledge, said one of the big issues they wanted to tackle was a rise in hate crime, particularly against women.

She said: “We thought about renaming the cafe in Jo Cox’s honour because she was killed because she was a successful, influential, independent woman.

“We want people to walk past the cafe and remember what she stood for and why she was killed.”

A short film, urging people to stand up against hate crime, was played for the first time at the event.

The film was paid for by West Yorkshire Police’s Safer Communities Fund and created by Little Germany-based School of Rock and Media.

Wales scraps tuition fee rise to £9,295

Graduates

Plans to raise the maximum level for tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,295 in Wales have been scrapped, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has said.

The income level at which graduates will have to repay student loans will be raised from £21,000 to £25,000, she added.

It comes after the UK government pledged to raise the maximum threshold for loan repayments in England.

Ms Williams told AMs the announcement had caused “turmoil” in England.

“Many unscheduled changes recently announced in England are having an impact on their ability to follow a consistent approach to policy development and initiatives in higher education,” she told the assembly’s education committee on Wednesday.

“One only has to look at the front page of The Times today to see the turmoil there is across the border.

“I will not allow such instability and incoherence to knock us off course here in Wales, from delivering on a stable and sustainable system.

“We will bring forward regulations to increase the repayment threshold from £21,000 to £25,000, subject to concluding discussions with HMT [the Treasury].

Image caption Kirsty Williams said the long-term plan to shift support from fees to living costs remained on track

Scrapping the plan to allow tuition fees to rise in line with inflation, Ms Williams said: “We will maintain the maximum fee level at £9,000.

“We will allocate an additional £6m to HEFCW [Higher Education Funding Council for Wales] in this financial year to deal with short-term implications affecting the sector, primarily demographic changes and threats from Brexit.

“We will provide an additional £10m to deal with any immediate issues arising out of the tuition fee changes and provide a further £5m in both for the next two years.”

She said the longer-term Diamond reforms to student finance in Wales remained on track.

These would replace tuition fee grants with support for living costs.

Ellen Jones, president of the National Union of Students in Wales, welcomed the fee cap staying at £9,000 as “an incredibly positive development”, saying: “Students cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of austerity.”

She added that raising the repayment threshold to £25,000 would also “go a significant way to lifting the barriers that students face in terms of loans”.

“It will mean that graduates will not be required to pay back a penny of their student loans until they’re earning a decent wage,” she said.

Partnership aims to cook up a treat

STUDENTS will take their first steps in a catering and hospitality career through a new cookery school which is run in partnership with a hotel.

A group of 16 students, aged between 16 and 19, will be given the opportunity to train at The Canteen and The Cookery School, based in Cheapside, Bradford, which is run by training group Aspire-igen and the Midland Hotel, which stands opposite.

The Cookery School will encourage young people into the catering and hospitality industry through combining qualifications with practical training sessions in a real-life work environment.

They will develop the skills needed to progress in the industry, before putting the same skills into practice preparing food and serving customers in cafe.

They will also help to cater for meetings and events held in Aspire-igen’s event space, for business lunches and the public, as well as providing free lunches for students attending other training courses.

The Midland Hotel has been involved with the project from the start, including selecting the qualification and the units the students will do as part of their course.

Joe Grant, catering and hospitality manager for the project, who will be mentoring the students on the course, said: “I wanted to help people. The catering industry is always looking for people.

“I wanted to give something back and develop the next generation. I wanted to help bring them through.

“It is a hands-on job, you are always on your feet.”

The scheme, which was officially opened yesterday, was established in recognition of the growing skills gap in the region.

Employers are already showing their support with offers of work experience, further training and career talks.

Gary Peacock, the Midland Hotel’s general manager, said: “We will offer work experience across the road at the hotel and our staff will come in and guide them.

“I’m delighted Aspire-igen came to me nine months ago with a fantastic idea that has come to fruition today.

“Hopefully I will come across young people from this city who can go on to great things in the future.”

The project has also attracted interest from the five-star Grand Hotel in York, which will also look to offer students opportunities for work experience, training and career talks.

Earlier this year Aspire-igen moved its headquarters to the former Commerce House in Cheapside, opposite Forster Square Station.

The previous business based in the unit, Cafe Intouch, has re-located to a larger unit in Cheapside.

The Canteen is open from 7.30am and 2.30pm on weekdays.

l Comment – Page 10

Hotel and catering school partnership aims to cook up a treat

STUDENTS will take their first steps in a catering and hospitality career through a new cookery school which is run in partnership with a hotel.

A group of 16 students, aged between 16 and 19, will be given the opportunity to train at The Canteen and The Cookery School, based in Cheapside, Bradford, which is run by training group Aspire-igen and the Midland Hotel, which stands opposite.

The Cookery School will encourage young people into the catering and hospitality industry through combining qualifications with practical training sessions in a real-life work environment.

They will develop the skills needed to progress in the industry, before putting the same skills into practice preparing food and serving customers in cafe.

They will also help to cater for meetings and events held in Aspire-igen’s event space, for business lunches and the public, as well as providing free lunches for students attending other training courses.

The Midland Hotel has been involved with the project from the start, including selecting the qualification and the units the students will do as part of their course.

Joe Grant, catering and hospitality manager for the project, who will be mentoring the students on the course, said: “I wanted to help people. The catering industry is always looking for people.

“I wanted to give something back and develop the next generation. I wanted to help bring them through.

“It is a hands-on job, you are always on your feet.”

The scheme, which was officially opened yesterday, was established in recognition of the growing skills gap in the region.

Employers are already showing their support with offers of work experience, further training and career talks.

Gary Peacock, the Midland Hotel’s general manager, said: “We will offer work experience across the road at the hotel and our staff will come in and guide them.

“I’m delighted Aspire-igen came to me nine months ago with a fantastic idea that has come to fruition today.

“Hopefully I will come across young people from this city who can go on to great things in the future.”

The project has also attracted interest from the five-star Grand Hotel in York, which will also look to offer students opportunities for work experience, training and career talks.

Earlier this year Aspire-igen moved its headquarters to the former Commerce House in Cheapside, opposite Forster Square Station.

The previous business based in the unit, Cafe Intouch, has re-located to a larger unit in Cheapside.

The Canteen is open from 7.30am and 2.30pm on weekdays.

‘Remarkable’ pioneer

Cartoon of Christian ColeImage copyright Bodleian Library
Image caption Christian Cole was depicted in cartoons during his time at Oxford

In a salute to a “remarkable” man, the University of Oxford has paid tribute to its first black student. But who was Christian Cole and what was life like for him at a time when being black at the university wasn’t merely unusual, but remarkable?

Cole was always likely to turn heads when he arrived in Oxford to read classics.

It was 1873 and he was a 21-year-old black man from Waterloo, Sierra Leone, studying alongside young men from the elite families of Victorian England (His arrival pre-dated the institution of the university’s first women’s college by six years.).

The city must have appeared a daunting place for Cole, said Dr Robin Darwell-Smith, an archivist at University College Oxford.

“For a lot of people he would have been the first black African they had ever encountered,” he said.

Image copyright University College
Image caption A new plaque honouring Christian Cole can be seen in Logic Lane at University College

Even understanding his colleagues might have initially been a challenge for a man used to hearing English in a Sierra Leonean dialect, according to cultural historian Pamela Roberts.

The author of Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars, she said he could have expected no special treatment.

“This was not a time of affirmative action or quotas,” she said.

Little is known about Cole’s early life in Africa, but Ms Roberts suggests a good education and his impressive intellect would have stood him in good stead.

Cole was the grandson of a slave and the adopted son of a Church of England minister in Sierra Leone.

He had studied at Fourah Bay College in the country’s capital, Freetown. It was established by Christian missionaries in 1827 and was known as the “Athens of West Africa” because of its academic reputation.

Image copyright TargetOxBridge
Image caption Oxford University is working with Target OxBridge to increase the number of black students

Cole was a non-collegiate student at Oxford – to help poorer students who might not be able to afford college fees, it was possible to study without being part of a college at the time.

He received an allowance from his uncle to support him, which he supplemented by tutoring and giving music lessons.

These extra commitments did not prevent Cole from making an impression on Oxford life, said Dr Darwell-Smith.

He spoke at the university’s debating society, the Oxford Union, and seems to have been a well-known figure.

When he attended Encaenia, Oxford’s honorary degree-giving ceremony and a great social occasion, his presence did not go unnoticed. The Oxford Chronicle recorded there were “three cheers for Christian Cole” before the event.

“There would have been these visitors saying, ‘gosh, who is that?’ ‘That is Christian Cole, he’s from Sierra Leone.’ ‘Wow, gosh, how exotic’,” Dr Darwell-Smith said.

“Cole would have known this… but he went along. I admire him for that,” he added.

His presence in Oxford was also documented in cartoons and he is mentioned in the diary of Florence Ward, who describes spotting him on a visit to her brother, who was at Magdalen College, in June 1876.

She wrote: “Saw Christian Cole (Coal?) also” and then used the N-word in brackets.

Image copyright Master and Fellows of University College
Image caption After leaving Oxford, Cole wrote a pamphlet on the Zulu War

Although to modern eyes the diary entry is clearly racist, Dr Darwell-Smith said he felt Cole’s contemporaries were “looking out for him”.

He cites as an example an appeal started by students to help Cole financially after his uncle died.

It was supported by the master of University College George Bradley and fellow student Herbert Gladstone, the son of four-time prime minister William Ewart Gladstone.

Bradley went on to award Cole membership of University College after he left with his Oxford degree in 1876, and paid his college membership fee for two years.

Cole graduated with a fourth-class honours degree in classics, although Dr Darwell-Smith stressed that this was no failure.

Teaching for non-collegiate students was not as comprehensive and very few students who did not belong to a college achieved honours degrees in this period.

Image caption The plaque was commissioned after historian Pamela Roberts suggested the idea as part of a project called Black Oxford

Classics was also considered to be the toughest subject at the time.

After leaving Oxford, Cole returned to Sierra Leone before coming back to England to join the Inner Temple in London, prior to becoming the first black African to practise law in an English court, in 1883.

He also published a poem attacking British policy in the Zulu War under the name of a “A Negro, B.A., of University College”, in 1879.

The text was addressed to WE Gladstone MP, who he describes as his “Master and Father in politics”.

Despite his achievements and his status as the university’s first black student, Cole’s name is not widely known – although that could be something that will one day change.

The university has said it is a “priority” to broaden the range of people represented by pictures, paintings and plaques around its buildings.

Image copyright OxfordACS
Image caption Oxford’s African Caribbean Society runs an annual conference to encourage state school pupils considering Oxford, which has been supported by grime artist Stormzy

It is part of a wider recognition the public perception of Oxford University is that it is a place for wealthy, mostly white, students, something that can deter black and ethnic minority candidates from applying.

It is a problem Tobi Thomas recognises. She was the only black undergraduate in her year at Trinity College when she arrived last September.

“There are films like The Riot Club [a depiction of a hedonistic, all-male Oxford University dining society]… I remember talking to friends who said why are you applying?” she said.

Naomi Kellman runs Target OxBridge, a programme set up to support black students applying to Oxford and Cambridge. She said these narratives can have a “really big impact”, which is why they introduce potential applicants to black students at Oxford in order to have those “myths busted”.

But how did the story end for the pioneering Christian Cole?

Sadly, it appears he struggled to find enough work after becoming a barrister and he moved on to East Africa.

Information about his life there is “very, very patchy”, said Ms Roberts.

Cole died in 1885 in Zanzibar of smallpox aged 33.

At a plaque unveiling held on Saturday, and timed to coincide with Black History Month, the master of University College Sir Ivor Crewe paid tribute to Cole’s “remarkable achievements”, and said he hoped the plaque would be “a symbol of our continued commitment to recognising and supporting the brightest students whatever their backgrounds”.