WHAT is this, you might ask? It resembles the bomb-damaged ruins of a city in some far-off, war-torn corner of the globe. But the reality could not be more different. The photograph was taken in August 1967, right here in York - and it shows building work under way on the campus of the new University of York. In the foreground is where the concert hall stands today. Across the lake, the outlines of more buildings are beginning to rise.

The university actually opened in 1963, with just 216 undergraduate students and 28 staff. At first, it was housed at King’s Manor and in Heslington Hall, but in 1964, work began on the Heslington West campus, as seen here.

York was very much a latecomer in getting its university. The first petition for a university in the city was presented to King James I in 1617. But it was almost 350 years later that it actually became a reality - with Oliver Sheldon, a director of Rowntree’s and one of the founders of York Civic Trust, a driving force behind the campaign.

Stephen Lewis