My studies at Bath

[lab desk]

I did my PhD at Bath University in the south-west of England. Being a postgrad student, of course I worked in a windowless breeze-block room. Actually I also had a share in an office with a window, but that's not where my terminal was. The computer is an HLH Orion-1, an extraordinary British-built machine, and the terminal is a BBC micro. The Orion was user-microcodable, built around the AMD2900 bit-slice chipset. In odd moments, I wrote some microcode for it, including a mandelbrot generator (which I never finished as an operating system upgrade changed the way virtual memory worked, and I never caught up with it). I think it's manufacturer has long since become defunct. I expect the machines have all gone by now, too. Its performance was somewhere between the VAX 11/750 and the VAX 11/780.

House and the main chimney

The University is situated in a landscaped campus (a 1960s concrete monstrosity) on a hill about a mile outside the Georgian (or Roman, or pre-Roman, or post-Georgian, or somewhere inbetween according to taste) city of Bath. The dominant architectural feature is a pair of high-rise accomodation blocks, one at each end of the main concourse; the campus buildings have now been extended far past each end of the concourse and so these fins are no longer near the ends of the campus.

[view to lake]

From the main campus, you can see down to the central feature of the landscaping: a small artificial lake. Much of the car parking, and one of the bus stops, were on the far side of the lake from the campus, so many people got to walk past on their way to or from the University each day... was that all the ``countryside'' they got to see daily? At least I had a cycle ride through country lanes...


The lake has ducks, fish and reeds. Some of the fish are a fair size. It's rare for anyone to take a dip in the lake, although it does sometimes happen around the end of exams. I never did this myself... my excuse was that I didn't have any exams ;-)

[lake with grass]

Just above the lake, between it and the main part of the campus, is a grass amphitheatre, which people occasionally sit in; and some rocks with a stream (probably artificially supplied... this is all near the top of a hill!) running down into the lake. Below the lake is the South Building which houses Microbiology.

[lake with reeds]

As you can see, the lake takes a naturally rural situation and transforms it into a rather laboured artificially rural situation. Still, it was nicer to be in the building looking out than outside the building looking in... that being said, the more intensive thinking in my research was done while wandering the paths and country roads near where I dwelt, or sitting at home in a cottage in Freshford, thinking and writing at the table.


As well as the lake, there are some fishponds, too. Something that tried to set itself up as one of the high points of campus life was the RSPCA home for abandoned dogs, just outside the campus... they advertise for students to come and walk their dogs for them.

Here is a view down to the city from near the campus:

While at the University, I lived in the nearby villages of Freshford (in my first two years) and in Limpley Stoke in my third year.

Between the university and these villages comes the spectacular Brass Knocker Hill


[PhD] [Research]
John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Fri Apr 27 10:12:31 GMT Daylight Time 2007