SSR-W: 50-year anniversary of the current association

The student association moved into the present building after ‘Huize Torck’ was burned to the ground in 1972.
The anniversary pin. Photo SSR-W

Yvonne Lemlijn chairs the Association’s Lustrum Week Committee,  SLuWcie. ‘We commemorate our fifty-year anniversary in our current building from 25 February to and including 3 March. So, there are singalongs, biergartens, dinners and parties. But also a history lesson for the younger members, Lemlijn says. How did SSR-W end up on the Generaal Foulkesweg?

‘SSR-W was originally located in Huize Torck on the Boterstraat, near the city hall, Lemlijn explains. ‘We already referred to it as Sela, as we do to our current building. Sela means ‘place of rest’; and symbolises the rest and relaxation that our members experience here. The rear face of the old building was gorgeous, but the front was actually quite ugly. The building was made up of four floors, the highest of which was a student house occupied by prominent members. There was a huge garden where members could have drinks and play games. They built bridges across the mote occasionally. That must have been fun.’

The pictures below show the rear face of the building, the retro-style bar and members and ‘klooien’ in the bar. ‘Klooien are first-year students who have not yet been inaugurated. Back then, you were shaved and made to sit on the floor. We no longer have such practices. The pictures also show only men. That too has changed.’

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The bar room. Photo archive SSR-W.
Bald klooien on the floor. Photo archive SSR-W.


On Monday, 6 March 1972, the city hall burst into flames. ‘Our members went to help secure the city archives’, Lemlijn says. ‘Once that had been done, and the fire appeared to be under control, they returned to grab a beer and celebrate their good deed. But when someone went to the restroom, they saw a pillar of smoke. Disaster!’

The fire at SSR-W likely started in the cloakroom. ‘There are suspicions that someone must have sneaked in with the SSR-W members and set fire to the cloakroom, but we are not sure. What we do know is that everyone was evacuated from the building but that some members ran up the stairs to alert the students sleeping on the top floor. They could evacuate using the fire escape that had been constructed a mere two weeks earlier. Everyone made it out unscathed.’

The fire department was still occupied with the fire at city hall and was thus unable to address the blaze at SSR-W at the same time, Lemlijn explains. ‘Two large fires a the same time was just too much.’

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Building lost

The building was lost after the fire. ‘As you can see, it was a huge chaos, with only a part of the left side of the building still standing. The building had to be torn down immediately.’

The association was temporarily housed in a youth centre next to The Crooked House (SSR-W’s oldest location) and started the search for a new spot. They found it quickly: the large house with a garden on the Generaal Foulkesweg was acquired on 24 July 1972. The association moved in on 29 March 1973, and the new association was once again named Sela.

SSR-W Sela on the Generaal Foulkesweg during the 2020 AID. Photo Anna den Hartog

More about SSR-W history can be found here.

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