Debate remains over who prefers the ‘heavy’ Spanner or ‘slim’ Spanner… but one thing is certain: both do the job after dark.
Spanner I (1937), Spanner II (1961)
Spanner III (1964)
City and Guilds College Union
Wooden Spanner (inviolate)
Details and dimensions:
Spanner III is a 64lb brass spanner manufactured to perfectly fit the bolts on London Bridge. A recently surfaced, lighter Doppelgänger is constructed of wood.
Exactly what job after dark is Spanner said to accomplish? Unhinging London Bridge, of course! Although unscrewing the spans of London Bridge today is strongly ill-advised (thanks, MI6) you cannot help but admire the slightly subversive nature of the students who created Spanner in the early 1960s.
Heavy, hefty Spanner is meant to convey one thing: don’t mess with the brass!
Will any alumni from the turbulent 1960s step forward to discuss how and why they made a spanner their mascot?
That all changed in 1974. The first female Guilds President, Jenny Jones, was elected to office. Petite Jenny was unable to lift 68lb Spanner over her head during CGCU’s chant “Boomalaka!”.
(“Boomalaka, boomalaka, boomalaka!” goes the chant for minutes on end. Frankly, not all of CGCU’s men could pump heavy Spanner up and down over their heads for the duration of the chant, either.)
It was decided that a wooden replica would be made.
Brass Spanner was taken to student Philip Northey’s hometown of Plymouth. There he set about measuring and cutting a replica Spanner out of wood. He painted it so that both versions were identical.
“From a distance, it was difficult to tell [them] apart. However a look at the person holding the Spanner would quickly reveal which one was which. (The one hoisting the brass one usually sweating, shaking and with bulging veins on the temples!)” says alumnus, Philip Northey
Today, Wooden Spanner is inviolate, which means it would be considered theft if stolen… so better to pinch the real thing (if you can manage to capture it) if you’re planning a caper after dark.
1960-something – anyone out there know? If so, please tell us in the comments.
None that are fit to print. Really.
Thanks to Mr Northey paving the way, replica Spanners marking 30 years after graduation were expected. In 2011, CGCU looked forward to the next Spanner incarnation courtesy the class of 1981. Was it be knitted of leggings and discarded tapes? (Note: ‘tapes’ were a form of music transfer commonly used between ‘records’ and ‘CDs’. Ask a history student.) Is there any news about Spanner 2011?
The ‘new’ wooden Spanner was collected from alumnus Mr Northey’s home by then CGCU President He-in Cheong on 12 September 2010.
Do you prefer ‘real’ Spanner or Wooden Spanner, and why? Share your comments below.