A trainspotter with green ideals, a quick mouth and a flair for publicity

July 23, 1999

Peter Toyne's decision to be pictured astride a bucking bronco in this year's Liverpool John Moores University prospectus may have been prophetic, writes Harriet Swain.

But it was not the only aspect of the publication - modelled on the magazine Loaded - to raise eyebrows. The many pictures of students drinking and partying and a relative lack of photographs showing people studying provoked national headlines.

Certainly Professor Toyne, despite his dedication to trainspotting, is not shy and retiring.

Recent gaffes include suggesting that daytime TV gurus could suggest ways of solving John Moores's budgeting problems and joking about betting HEFCE money on a 100-1 horse called "College Dean".

A Yorkshireman, educated at Ripon Grammar School and the Sorbonne, Toyne started his teaching career at the University of Lille before joining the University of Exeter as a lecturer in geography.

He moved on to become head of Bishop Otter College, Chichester, and deputy director (academic) of the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education.

In 1983, he joined North East London Polytechnic as deputy director, becoming rector of Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores in 1986.

His theatrical bent has had some outlet in his directorship of the Liverpool Playhouse, where he stayed for four years.

But in the university world, he has had most impact as an environmentalist and believer in the importance of opening up higher education.

In 1993, he wrote a report on greening universities and he is a member of the sustainable development education panel. In the late 1980s, he chaired the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme Committee

He lists his hobbies in Who's Who as railways - his 50th birthday present from his wife was announcing train departures for an hour - liturgy and music (especially sacred).

After encouraging staff to ask questions as part of a 1997 university survey, he was asked if Liverpool John Moores was a Beatle's song, which would it be. He could not decide between "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!".

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