Goodbye, Waveney Terrace

This won’t mean much to people who weren’t at the University of East Anglia, but never mind. We’ve all got bits of nostalgia floating around in our brains.

When I arrived at UEA back in October 1987, there were five options for living on campus. Norfolk Terrace and Suffolk Terrace were the award-winning Ziggurat-shaped constructions dominating the area around the UEA broad. Orwell Close and Wolfson Close were much smaller and more exclusive, probably best suited to mature students. Finally, there was Waveney Terrace, a snaking four-storey building constructed mostly from unpainted breezeblocks.

I lived in Waveney Terrace for two years, and while I was sad to hear of its imminent demolition, I can’t really say I’m surprised. Students expect more luxury from their halls nowadays, so the en suite rooms of Nelson Court and Colman House (which would dominate the foreground of the picture below if you saw that view today) are going to be a much more pleasant prospect. Even at the time, the news that you’d been given a room in Waveney would produce looks of shocked sympathy on the faces of your friends. Little breezeblock boxes, arranged in long corridors of around twelve rooms, with the shared kitchen and bathroom at one end. Even when they painted the walls in time for my second stint, they got it horribly wrong… industrial grade semi-gloss paint in a fetching shade of “gents toilet off-white”.

But you know what? I loved the place.

waveney terrace in 1988

During my first year, I was allotted a room in Waveney before I’d really seen the campus properly, but when I came back after my year abroad, I actually *requested* a room there. I’d done my homework. I knew that, beneath the bold modernistic architectural veneer, the Suffolk/Norfolk terrace rooms were a good few inches smaller and the furniture was bolted to the floor. Pah! To think those laughing-faced fools dared to call Waveney a prison… I rearranged my functional Waveney furniture with the gleeful abandon of a FREE MAN! Maybe it’s all to do with the “creativity born of restriction” thing I’m always banging on about (in relation to music, anyway) but the forbidding appearance of the Waveney rooms seemed to inspire people to make more effort with their rooms.

But of course the main thing was that we didn’t know any different. Even the properly plastered walls of the other residences didn’t represent a particularly huge leap in the luxury stakes, especially not by modern standards, but that didn’t matter. It was all about personalising your little space, listening to your favourite albums and making new friends over a two-litre plastic bottle of cheap lager. I suspect that sort of student life has now vanished for good, along with the notion of higher education for its own sake, but that’s market economics, I guess…

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10 Responses to Goodbye, Waveney Terrace

  1. Pierre KATABO says:

    Waveney Terrace. I lived there in 1990-1991. She will always live in my heart…

  2. stefania says:

    Been there for just a term Oct/Dec 1987 , lovely experience. Lots of memories there. :)

  3. Michael Malloy says:

    A stateside (Washington DC) UEA “mini-reunion” last year jogged my memory about Waveney, where I lived in the ’84-’85 academic year. I had the ground-level first room in the first block (A?), facing the campus. I often kept my window open a crack at night and befriended a local cat, who would jump in and keep me company. Being a Yank, I was very happy to be there and have my own little space, and I recall listening, entralled, to the BBC at night with my Walkman. I also read the letter in that room that grandmother had died (a month earlier, during Easter break, when I was doing the Grand Tour) and remember some fond (and funny, and foolish!) times with friends there. So it got torn down, but the memories live on…

  4. adrian says:

    I love how this post has suddenly attracted attention, even after my blog fell into dormancy – thanks for the comments, fellow ex-Waveneyists!

  5. Nick Hanna says:

    I lived in Q block floor 1 of Waveney back in 1977 and 1978. I loved the place. The d├ęcor was Spartan but that enticed us to create a great community of students. The fact that I had a room to myself seemed like a great luxury, and back then the milkman made daily deliveries to our kitchen. I remember cooking a Christmas Turkey in that little kitchen for all the lads of Q.01. Lots of late nights playing cards and drinking whisky.

  6. adrian says:

    I love the idea of milk deliveries! It’s funny how priorities have changed for students. I remember when we’d sneak down to blocks P and Q in the dead of night, to defrost frozen food in their microwaves (those blocks were mostly mature or graduate students when I was there). My nieces, both at Sussex Uni, would be horrified… not only at the shortage of microwaves, but the lack of much else!

  7. Nancy Hendry says:

    Lived in L block 1982 and 83. Loved it. So the walls were breeze block, thats why we had posters. I remember writing my milk order on the list in the kitchen. There were two students from Brunei on the corridor who would bow and smile when you saw them. They cooked amazing food with the aid of a huge meat cleaver and a wok . I also remember the university porters who would sometimes appear at 2am when we were pulling an allnighter. I heard lots of interesting tales over a cup of tea.

  8. Peter says:

    I lived in E007 ’82 – 83. The room had this amazing chalk mural on the wall, and occasionally former residents of the room would stop by to make sure it was still there. We broke one of my corridor mates bed, using it as sled down Waveney mountain after snow fell….Great memories of the place, I was back today for the first time in 33 years and was shocked to see Waveney is gone

  9. Sandra Hutchison says:

    I wouldn’t ever miss the pink and orange curtains, but I had no other complaints about living on Waveney Terrace as an American exchange student in 80-81. We had a very friendly little community. The only real controversy arose from that one student doing the Atkins diet who insisted on cooking fish for breakfast.

  10. B says:

    How very strange to think that it has gone. When I lived there in 1981/82 it seemed like the pinnacle of modernity :-)
    I liked the curtains, they made a real effect looking at the house from the outside. And then the unspeakable luxury of having your room cleaned. And the rooms were well-heated … in fact if you wanted a little less heat, you had to leave the window open … those were the days before climate change consciousness, of course. Wonderful times.

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