A team of 10 firefighters using two fire engines and a support vehicle with a hydraulic platform spent an hour lowering the seasonal headgear, which had been fastened to a 60ft spire about the college entrance known for centuries as the Gate of Humility.*admiration*
The college response was in stark contrast to a previous prank hailed as one of the greatest of all time. In 1958, students at Gonville and Caius winched an Austin Seven onto the roof of the nearby Senate House and residents of Cambridge awoke to see it perched at the apex of an inaccessible rooftop, looking as if it were driving across the skyline.Ah, those were the days. Before ludicrous health and safety laws, deans terrified of lawsuits, and students more interested in ensuring their premises’ toilet facilities were properly gender neutral.
The then Dean of Caius, the late Rev Hugh Montefiore, guessed who was responsible and sent them a congratulatory case of champagne despite publicly maintaining that he knew nothing of the culprits.
A spokesman for the University of Cambridge said it was aware that three fire brigade vehicles were involved in the operation to remove the hat but declined to comment. No-one at Gonville and Caius College was available for comment.Good for the firemen for getting on with it and regarding it as ‘a teaching opportunity’. They’re one up on the university staff…
A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue said the firefighters were paying a routine familiarisation visit to the college when they were asked to remove the hat and that the episode had provided a useful training exercise.