What happened when we were evacuated from Founder’s late last night

At first, we just thought it was a drill

Last night Royal Holloway probably had the most dramatic night of its life, one of the very rare times that a fire alarm actually involves some burning and smoke. First of all it was an essay distraction, but I wasn’t exactly feeling as optimistic nine hours later sitting in a lecture theatre at 5am.

We all left reluctantly, some in dressing gowns and others fully prepared. With the last week of term approaching, everyone is drowning in essays, and I had been sitting on my floor with books scattered everywhere when the ringing first started. I was very clever and went without a coat, but this didn’t seem all bad when I thought it would be a ten minute panic because of an aerosol or forgotten toast.

We all knew this wasn’t the case when actual grey smoke was billowing out from fourth floor East.


Four fire engines, smoke, generic snapchat stories aplenty. After being involved in the three day blackout too, my floor on Founders West hasn’t appeared to be too lucky. I knew the hotel would be the next step after the confusion and rumours died down enough.

At first the idea of a hotel sounded pretty appealing, but with just a college card and a dead phone it became apparent it was going to be a dismal night. So, at around 10pm a lot of people thought that a Bedford Library all night camping trip would be the best bet.

Students were informed they would be evacuated by bus to a local hotel

Students were informed they would be evacuated by bus to a local hotel

Everyone looked defeated with their spontaneous college card buys as if about to wait out the apocalypse. This went on for a while until the news of an announcement from the Principal at 23:10pm in the Windsor Auditorium, who said that those in Founder’s West might be able to get back into rooms, but that the hotel might be the best bet.

It was in that queue for the bus that we were first told by an official looking man in neon that getting back into Founders West was ‘imminent’, and everyone was actually jumping on the spot in some strange cold and tiredness induced hysteria. We know you were only doing your job, man with clipboard, but there was a time at half four when still waiting that we weren’t your biggest fans after all.

The suspect was detained at around 10pm

The suspect was detained at around 10pm

So off to wait in the Windsor Auditorium, with about thirty founders residents, and a tired RSA. It was okay for the first hour. The second dragged on. There was a time when I was sure that the hotel had just run out of rooms and we’d been herded in there like distracted sheep.

At 2:40 am Shrek 2 was put on. It felt like some awful social experiment. At that point I was just string forward. A few people were spooning on the floor of the lecture theatre, one girl was rolling around on a chair screaming past the door, being far too happy. The strange parallel world of Windsor Auditorium at 4am.


At 4:52am, the lights came back on, we flinched like nocturnal creatures, and another official person came in and took us back to Founder’s. I don’t want to have a lecture there for a while, hear anymore fire alarms, or see anything Shrek related.

At least Founders didn’t become a pile of ash and no one got hurt, thanks to the diligent emergency services – and the free crisps.