FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

1978 Rob Lucas, FSC Chief Executive - FSC Slapton

The start of a FSC career as a placement students at Slapton.

In February 1978 Katie, Erica and myself (three prospective placement students) travelled to Slapton for a two day interview with our lecturer, Dr Tony Vann. First impressions were of narrow lanes between towering hedge banks, stunning coastline, chocolate box pretty village with two pubs and 'flat' beer. A certain Tony Thomas was the Warden and Director of Studies who put us through our paces digging out bedload traps, measuring stream flows and helping students with their work in the soils lab.

All three of us were fortunate enough to be offered a place for the year and what a year. Fantastic memories of helping with the geography teaching with the standard week being rivers on Dartmoor, soils & hydrology in Slapton Wood, coastal erosion at Start Point, coastal deposition and plant succession along Slapton Sands and the Lower Ley, Rural Settlements around the South Hams and Urban work in Plymouth and finally back to Dartmoor for land use issues and geomorphology.

The days were long with teaching commonly going on until after 10pm as much time was spent on calculation of data and copying it down from giant tables that filled the chalkboard. The financial reward was only £7.25 per week but the job was hugely fulfilling and immensely enjoyable and you could double your salary by eating all that Les and Terry in the kitchen prepared.

With a modicum of construction skills my non-teaching time was filled with building and repairing things from the fishing boats and field equipment to bedload traps and laboratory ceilings.

I couldn't wait to return after finishing my Human Ecology degree and became a field tutor as soon as my course was over. Working in a magical place with a great team of like minded people was a hard act to follow  - so FSC it has been for most of the 35 years since then.