From Morphy Day to RAG week, browse our favourite alumni pranks

Your best pranks 

Computer mouse"Some clever soul waited patiently in the computer rooms for anyone to leave their PCs unlocked. He would then take a screenshot of whatever they had open and set that as the wall paper and hide all the desktop icons. Upon return the user would keep clicking on a wallpaper and nothing would happen. The reaction people gave before they realised was hilarious. Best prank I have seen and a good lesson on security. Always lock your PC!"

"My classmates acquired a meteorological balloon that they connected to the tap on the physics lecturer’s bench, and replaced the lid. During the lecture that followed, Dr Bryan Coles placed the chalk he had been using back on the bench exactly upon the sink lid. A few minutes later the lid was seen to tilt under pressure from the gradually filling balloon and the chalk rolled off and onto the floor (accompanied by much laughter and comment). Dr Coles looked round, realising something was afoot, and continued as if there wasn’t. By now the balloon had started to spill out of its confines. Finally, about 35 minutes after the lecture had begun, the balloon burst and a tidal wave swept across the bench. A look of panic crossed Dr Coles’ face, as he tried to rescue his notes from the deluge. Most of the front row disappeared and returned with mops and buckets, and the lecture resumed about ten minutes later."

"A shop close to Halls was handing out free 3D glasses and we collected about 300 pairs. We stood outside a lecture theatre, handing out pairs to all the students on their way in. We said that the glasses were complementary as slide four of the presentation included a 3D diagram. The lecturer was very confused when he moved on to slide four an
d 300 students suddenly put on 3D glasses!"

Thermometer prank "One of the engineering departments took a commission to build the world's largest candle as part of some celebration. Wax was poured into a mould some 10m high, but by the time it was required it had still not set - it seems that latent heat of fusion wasn't something the engineers had taken into account. As a physicist I took the chance to rub this in a bit. A couple of us climbed up the scaffold and abseiled down the candle in the dark, spray-painting a giant thermometer onto the mould. We graduated it from 0 to 100 Celsius, and sprayed in the mercury at 62° - the melting point of paraffin wax. Theta being the RCS mascot was just the icing on the cake."

"From the rear door of the Union building we noticed workmen digging up the road near the Albert Hall. We rang the police and told them that students were digging up the road as a prank. We then went out and told the workmen that students dressed as policemen were coming to arrest them. The resulting fight was spectacular."

"In 1953 the Russian Embassy, just round the corner from Guilds, acquired a new canopy to be erected when welcoming important guests. Unfortunately their chosen material was red and white stripes which was of course Guilds colours. We therefore decided that it should be moved to a more appropriate location and it was re-erected at Guilds main entrance in Exhibition Road. It was subsequently removed by Embassy staff but fears of an international incident were ill-founded."

"Less anyone should think that in those days we were too unruly, I recall an event when a pitched battle developed between Guilds and RCS across Exhibition Road. Missiles and water were being hurled when a little old lady tried to cross the road. There was an instant parting of the warring forces, she crossed in peaceful silence and, once she was completely clear, the battle raged again."

"A great prank for those who remember Prof Murgatroyd's thermodynamics lectures was the remote control chalk box. Very pre-white-board but every time he turned round to write up unintelligible formulae on the board, the chalk box would move to the other end of the bench so when he turned back to get more chalk it wasn't where he left it!"

Queen's Tower "On one occasion we climbed down a vertical shaft above the main Queen's Tower door, removed from inside the external security lock, took it to the workshops under Mech Eng, dismantled it and fabricated a new key enabling us to access the Queen's Tower whenever we wanted to do so. On leaving Imperial, we took our professor down to the Ennismore Arms and described our exploits. He was stunned, particularly when we donated him the Queen's Tower key, not knowing if he ever passed it on... or used it himself!"

"We removed all the items that we could from our friend's room while he was sleeping: his computer, chair, folders. In the staircase, a team wrapped every retrieved item in newspaper then returned them to his room. Knowing that he'd have to go to lectures soon, we waited for his alarm to go off. It did, and after ten minutes of an unwrapping bonanza that would surpass any children's Christmas morning, he decided it would be more productive to attend Southside bar than lectures that day. We agreed."

"We noticed that the loos on each floor were 'back to back'. So we would wait until one of them was being used for longer than it takes to have a pee, enter the other loo and remove the wooden screen covering the flushing mechanism to operate the flush of the first loo while the occupant was still seated."

"With the carnival commandos I 'borrowed' roadwork signs and barriers from all over London, then set up a traffic diversion on Exhibition Road. We sent the traffic into Prince Consort Road, then up past the Albert Hall, to Kensington Gore. A sergeant from South Kensington came out to direct traffic into Prince Consort Road for at least half an hour, before finally realising that no road works were going to happen and removing the barriers. He gave us a very dirty look when we walked back past there with our well-filled tins."

"I abducted a statue from the garden of Weeks Hall to Tizard Hall where I lived at the time. Later I was informed by a Weeks insider that some of the residents were planning a raid on Tizard to attack me (or at least humiliate me). I changed the room numbers on the doors so that any danger would be focused on my next door neighbour who was away for the weekend. The raiding party arrived, tapping (then banging) on my neighbour's door. Calling my name they tried to lure me out. When they knocked on my door to ask if they could use my room to access my neighbour's via the window, I politely refused."

"We sang 'Why was he born so beautiful' to Lord Halsham our Rector, leaning out of some windowns looking down on him and his entourage. Then we all gave new meaning to the verb to scarper."

"During the autumn term the estate managers were coppicing and hedge cutting, resulting in a large number of bare tree saplings in a pile. We filled our course mate's entire bedroom with saplings wedged from floor to ceiling, except for a narrow path from door to bed. This was done to coincide with the 'Blair Witch Project'. He was a good sport and slept in the room untouched for three days."

"We went to Speakers Corner with one of us dressed as a gorilla, heckling 'What about votes for gorillas?'"

"We arrived in Cambridge to play hockey for the weekend and were taken on a minibus trip around the city. Every time the driver went to clear the windscreen, the nozzles had been repositioned to squirt out to the side. The faces of the pedestrians trying to work out if it was raining or an isolated bird incident were hilarious!"

"At Christmas everybody went home and I was in the house alone for a couple of days before I left. I bought lots of wrapping paper and proceeded to wrap up everything I could find in my buddies' rooms. Books, lamps, computers, anything I could find. I piled it all in the hallway and, for the last touch, I took off all my clothes except some Christmas coloured socks, lay down in front of the pile, censoring myself with a 'Merry Christmas' sign and took a picture which I printed out and carefully placed on top of the pile. Then I went home and left it to be discovered by my flatmates."

"Instead of entering the main Mechanical Engineering lecture room late, a few of the guys managed to get into the projector room unnoticed. Anytime the lecturer wasn't paying attention to the board, shadow puppets appeared."

USA flag

"There was an American school opposite the entrance to the old College building in Exhibition Road. One day several of us thought it a good idea to climb on top of their entrance porch and remove their USA flag for 'ransom'. The children cried and we had to return the flag and apologise - nearly expelled!"

"Morphy Day 1965. I was guilds pyrotechnic officer. We carried a 45 gallon oil drum filled with pyrotechnic chemicals on the tube to Putney. Before the start of the race the 'firework' was placed on Putney Bridge and lit. It emitted clouds of coloured smoke. The traffic stopped and an enterprising young PC pushed it into the water. Of course it continued to burn thus covering the Thames in smoke and holding up the race. Imagine carrying such a 'firework' on the tube today, you would probably be arrested!"

Old sofa "Found a sofa on the street. We wanted to get it into the basement of our halls, but we couldn’t get it through the front door or down the stairs. Instead we dropped it into one of the courtyards that went down to basement level, over a wall. We then took it through the window and through the room of a rather perplexed student to get it into the basement the corridor and into a friend's room. The staff had to cut it up to get it out as they couldn't figure out how we had got it down the stairs."

"We played tiddlywinks down the Kings Road. RCS down one side. Guilds down the other side and Miners down the white line in the middle. The police stopped us tiddlywinking across the zebra."

Whoopee cushion "In around 2002 (2nd year of computer science degree) we purchased a remote controlled fart making machine from the internet. For weeks we enjoyed passing it around the lecture room, confusing the lecturer into thinking all his students had flatulence. Sorry! For what it’s worth… you were a great lecturer."

"While I was a medical student at Charing Cross and Westminster, we had tiny, very boring rooms in Halls in Notting Hill Gate. I drew a classical scene on the walls with naked men and women eating grapes and garlanded with laurel. One day a friend came up saying "Watch out, they've found the murals and the Dean's been summoned to see them". I rushed back and with help, removed the mural completely with nail polish remover. When the man who ran the hostel threw open the door to show the Dean, there was nothing there and the Dean was unimpressed!"

Toilet "In my third year of studies, I resided in Evelyn Gardens. I was studying chemistry at undergraduate level and was interspacing study with a reasonable amount of social studies i.e. parties and drinking. Most of the social studies made some sort of sense the following morning, but there is one that makes no sense 35 years later! How was it that I walked to a party 3 miles away and found that I'd carried back a fully operational toilet to my room (clean, I might add) - and, I struggled to pick it up in the morning??? It took a bit of explaining and some difficulty was experienced in removing the evidence..."

"It was during our first year of our undergraduate Chemistry degree. We had a lecturer whose normal attire comprised of a signature sleeveless jumper and we thought it would have been hilarious if we turned up to his lectures dressed in one. So we went and bought one ourselves (all in different colours) at nearby High St. Kensington, went to one of his lectures wearing it, and just to make it extra obvious / bring it to his attention that we were mocking him, we all sat in the same row in the lecture theatre. He noticed at the beginning - hilarity ensued! Fortunately, he took it in good spirits and congratulated us for the prank."

Empty fridge "The story goes that during my research days at the lab, food would mysteriously go missing… who was the culprit? Despite lots of sticky notes on food kept in the shared lab refrigerator, always, food went missing. So, how to catch the culprit? Some mild laxative during a joint meeting of us food preparers. We identified the culprit… as one of our postdocs! Shocking!"

"While doing a medical practical. We were asked to sit on an exercise bicycle to test oxygen consumption. One of the group was very sporty and promptly volunteered to be the first guinea pig. However, while he sat on the bike we were able to alter the resistance without him knowing. After 5 minutes of increased resistance he was fit to drop. Another person tried their hand at the exercise test and achieved a high level for a long time. The sporty guy is still perplexed to this day."

"Week’s Hall 1960s. The trick was to get into another student’s room and remove the U-bend from the sink. This did involve climbing from one room to another one the outside of the building AAAH! Makes me shudder to think of it. When the student gets to use the sink the water all pours on the floor. Ho ho. This seemed funny at the time. Now after a while victims would wise up and put the waste bin under the sink. So the trick escalates by drilling a hole in the bottom of the waste bin."

"During research years at IC our lab was on the 8th floor of the Chemistry building. Quick access to the lab was out the back door across the roof down the fire escape to the 7th floor. When it was snowing, when sufficient snow fell on the roof, we would collect by railings with a pile of snowballs and launch them off the roof with the intention to startle not injure the unwary passer by."