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102-year-old alumnus to receive his MA

Brian Lowe came up to Trinity in October 1931 to study law. Tomorrow, from the warmth of New South Wales, Mr Lowe, 102, will have his MA conferred – a little later than most Cambridge graduates.

In one of many Cambridge quirks, graduates can apply for their MA two years after their BA and when aged at least 24. Mr Lowe describes his time at Trinity, his career overseas and why he decided, more than 80 years after graduating, to apply for his MA.

‘I don’t know what conditions are like for students now but I suspect that in my time they may have been a bit stricter. In those days, if I remember right, we had to wear gowns to lectures and to dinner in the Hall. The college gates were closed at 9 or 10pm and to get out or in after that time required a pass, unless one climbed in or out as some used to do. The College in those days was all male. Female visitors were welcome but not after the gates shut in the evening.

For my first year I had rooms in Chesterfield Road and for the next two years Great Court R8, which overlooked Bishop’s Hostel. I shared these rooms with Geoffrey Makin who had been with me at Charterhouse and was also studying law. I visited these rooms the last time I was in Cambridge in 1989 when it was occupied by two female students but seemed much the same except that there was a wash basin where the coal had been kept, a great improvement.

I was not as active as I realize that I should have been in partaking in the many things on offer in those days but I played hockey in winter and in 1933 joined the Cambridge University Air Squadron which took up a good deal of time and taught me to fly.

My college tutor was JRM Butler and my supervisors were Professors Hollond and Duff. I think I was a good attendant at lectures in the Law School whose premises as I remember them were not attractive at the time. In the summer term I worked very hard for the exams, especially Tripos Parts I and II, which I passed.

I then commenced articles with a firm of solicitors in the City of London and after passing the final examination in about June 1937 I was enrolled as a solicitor. I continued working with the same firm until October 1939 when I was called up into the Royal Navy where I remained until March 1946.

In October that year I left England for Canada where I was employed as an Assistant British Trade Commissioner in Vancouver until March 1951. I then was employed in the legal division of a big public utility company in Vancouver until September 1961. In October 1961 I joined a legal firm in Vancouver with whom I remained until I retired in 1975. In October that year I went to live in Victoria, Australia, where I was enrolled as a barrister and solicitor but never practised.

I thoroughly enjoyed being at Cambridge. There is no doubt that it influenced my outlook for the better and that having a BA Cantab Law was very useful in obtaining employment in Canada.

I had been thinking of applying to be awarded an MA for some years but never got around to it. However, now that I am 102 I would very much appreciate having an MA to complete my CV.’

Read more about Mr Lowe’s Supervisors and his Tutor from College historian, Professor Boyd Hilton

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