Nationalist and unionist leaders in Derry united to lead the protest following the publication of the Lockwood Report as shown in the footage shared by Northern Ireland Screen from its digital archive.
On February 10, 1965, Sir John Lockwood’s report on higher education in NI recommended that a second university be located in Coleraine sparking a storm of controversy.
The report claimed Coleraine alone could “provide the residential facilities, which must be made available in the critical years ahead and it has amenities, which can be greatly developed.”
In anticipation of these findings, a protest was staged two days prior and the University for Derry Action Committee (UDAC) formalised.
Leader of the then local authority, the Londonderry Corporation, Unionist Mayor AW Anderson called for unity as he told those gathered this was “the most important issue to come before the city this century.”
“If it decides that the university must go somewhere else then we must fight that. I do not care what the Government’s decision is or whose Government it is we must fight for Derry and Londonderry,” he said.
The city galvanised and united in its outrage gathered on February 18 to partake or support a motorcade of over 1,000 vehicles travelling from Derry to Stormont, while in Derry itself a two-minute silence was observed with schools, shops and public houses closing for all or part of the day.
The footage shows the cavalcade on route and arriving at Stormont. The protest was led by Anderson, Eddie McAteer and UDAC chairman John Hume and was covered in the Derry Journal at the time.
This weekend marks the 57th anniversary of the protest and the film reel shows UTV’s Maurice Smyth reports from Derry on the funereal procession in support of the campaign.
A spokesperson from NI Screen stated: “The footage from Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive shows a motorcade driving from Derry City to Stormont with each car labelled with the area it travelled from. Mayor Anderson, John Hume and Eddie McAteer led the crowds to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Terence O’Neill on the campaign.”
To watch more footage visit www.digitalfilmarchive.net.