A DURHAM University college is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Grey College was built in 1959 and named after North- East-born Earl Grey, who became Prime Minister in 1830.

It was founded as a college for male scientists, in response to a Government report highlighting a shortage of scientists and engineers, as the first of Durham’s “hill colleges”

on the city’s South Road.

In the five decades since, it has welcomed female students, developed a reputation for tolerance and community, and accumulated the largest art collection of all the colleges.

Grey College has 842 undergraduate and post-graduate students, about 500 of whom live in the college, and also welcomes visiting academics and fellows.

College master Martyn Chamberlain, a professor of applied physics, said: “It’s a very happy place, a very tolerant college.

“We have very bright and hard-working students but very willing to participate in activities such as sports.

“We’re trying to produce students who are not just academically hard-working and gifted but people who are going to be good citizens who contribute to the communities they live in, be interesting people and be culturally aware.”

Among the college’s achievements are the university’s Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology and Biophysical Sciences Institute, which both grew from Grey.

Former students play a continuing role in college life, supporting outreach and sporting projects and providing advice to current scholars.

Well-known alumni include actor James Wilby, from Howards End and Gosford Park, and Adam Applegarth, former chief executive of Northern Rock.

A range of events are planned to celebrate 50 years of the college.

An exhibition of work by artist George K Rackus, in the college’s old library, will be open until Sunday, June 21.

There will be a Reform Club debate on the topic: You’ve never had it so good.

Speaking in favour will be BBC journalist Mihir Bose and military history professor Brian Holden-Reid, from King’s College, London.

The opposition will be Jonathan Porritt, founder-director of Forum for the Future, and playwright Ed Waugh. The chairman will be the BBC’s Richard Moss.

The debate will take place in Holgate lecture theatre, Grey College, tonight from 7.30pm. Admission is free and open to all. For more information, call Joyce Dover on 0191-334-5638.

For more information on the 50th anniversary celebrations, see durham.ac.uk/grey.college.