Sir Sydney Caine, LSE student and Director, oversaw a period of expansion and tension during the 1960s. LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly investigates.
“Very dully, no doubt, in a world in which novelty is so often taken as the supreme value, I accepted—and accept—the basic character of the School.”
Sir Sydney Caine (1902-1991) is among those LSE Directors who have experienced LSE life as both staff and student. He first came to LSE in 1919 to study for a BSc (Economics). His parents Harry, a railway clerk, and Jane lived in Hendon and Caine attended Harrow County School before studying at LSE. In 1922 he graduated with a first class degree, specialising in Economic History, and proving that student life was not all work and no play, he had also met his first wife, Muriel Ann Harris who was studying for the Social Science Certificate. They married in 1925 after she had worked at the University Women’s Settlement and the North London Collegiate Settlement.
On leaving LSE Sydney Caine entered the Civil Service as an assistant inspector of taxes before joining the Colonial Office in 1926 after passing the revised Civil Service exams. In the Colonial Office he served as secretary to the West Indian Sugar Commission and to the UK Sugar Industry Commission and in 1937 he was appointed Financial Secretary to Hong Kong. Caine enjoyed the experience of living in Hong Kong re-shaping the system of revenue collection and designing fiscal reforms, the implementation of which were delayed by the Japanese invasion in 1940, but implemented after 1945. Caine’s wartime service included a period in the Colonial Supply Liaison Office in Washington before becoming Financial Advisor to the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Stanley. In 1947 Caine received a knighthood before moving to the Treasury where he headed the United Kingdom Treasury Supply Delegation in Washington and World Bank Mission to Ceylon.
In 1952 he began a second career as a university administrator with his appointment as Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya, developing two branches of the university in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. LSE was already planning for Carr-Saunders’ retirement and in the same year they wrote to Caine about the post:
“The Director is responsible to the Court of Governors for the organisation, supervision of all the work of the School, including, in particular the making or recommending of appointments, the making or recommending of allocations of its financial resources, and the admission and discipline of its students. Salary £3,800.”
Sydney Caine accepted the post and became Director on 1 January 1957, remaining until 30 September 1967. Initially a great deal of staff time was occupied with the Director’s accommodation, as having spent a considerable part of his career abroad Caine did not own a London home. The problem was solved in 1959 when the School rented a flat in the Anchorage from the London Diocesan Fund.
Caine oversaw a period of expansion for the School in both property and student numbers. His time as Director saw the School refurbishing and moving into the St Clements’ Building and following the demolition of the Government Laboratory building an extension and the Clare Market Tower on Houghton Street.
In 1964 Caine set up a Research Group to investigate the feasibility of moving the School to a completely new site. The Chief Education Officer of Croydon was prepared to offer the School Heathfield, a large green field site. The Research Group reported to Academic Board in May 1965 putting the case for both staying and leaving. Caine summarised the case for both sides but his list of financial and planning hurdles was substantial. In the end “members of the Board expressed the opinion that the School’s present site was as good as any which was likely to be offered and that there was little point in seeking for an ideal that did not exist.” A separate plan to base undergraduate teaching in Croydon while postgraduate work remained on Houghton Street was defeated by a large majority.
Following the publication of the Robbins Report written by LSE economist Lionel Robbins, the School also looked at the feasibility of growth in students and staff and one major development in 1964-1965 was the introduction of a single year masters course available to graduates of all universities. It was also the period when departments began to emerge with the establishment of Convenors for each discipline initially responsible for appointments.
Caine continued with his external interests, becoming a member of the Independent Television Authority and serving as a governor of the Central Bank of Rhodesia after the British government took control of the Bank following Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence.
In 1963 Caine was 62 and his position as Director was reviewed by a committee including Professor Fisher and Professor Oakeshott along with the governors Sir Jock Campbell, Mr Farrer-Brown and Sir Edwin Herbert. Caine expressed a wish to continue for three more years to the age of 65 saying:
“Administrators can lose their efficiency rapidly at this sort of age and 65 is old enough for a definite commitment.”
Caine’s final year was overshadowed by the turmoil following the appointment of another former student, Sir Walter Adams, the Principal of University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, as his successor. The students objected to Adams’ links with Rhodesia but Caine also recognised this as a call for increased student involvement in the management of the School.
In January 1967 students occupied the Old Theatre and in the disturbance one of the porters died as a result of a heart attack. Disciplinary procedures were implemented but in May 1967 five students joined the Machinery of Government Committee reviewing the management structure of the School. Matters were sufficiently settled by the end of the year for students to sit their final examinations.
In his retirement Caine continued as Deputy Chairman of the Independent Television Authority and chaired the Planning Committee of the new private University of Buckingham. After the death of Muriel Caine in 1962, Caine married Doris Winifred in 1965, and after her death Elizabeth Bowyer. He died in 1991 at the age of 88. A memorial service was held in St Clement Danes Church.
Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)
The quote “No Major New Developments” is from the Directors’ Report 1957-58.
Please read our comments policy before commenting