PHYSICS & CHEMISTRY

Page updated 8 February,2008




During the late 1940s, a Chemistry and a Physics lab were brought into use in the basement area - that we called the Underworld - though these were used only for classes commencing at 5.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after formal school hours. Mr Ken Crowther, whom I believe taught at the Harrogate Grammar School during the day, was the very accomplished and likeable Chemistry teacher and Major Leathley the Physics teacher. There were only about seven or eight boys in these classes, which were "extras" on the parents' bill. These were the only dedicated classrooms; in all others we simply used the room for every lesson. In the latter days of the school, the labs were moved on to the third floor of no.5 Leeds Rd.



This postcard bears the title,, "The Laboratory, Norwood College, Harrogate" and it is undoubtedly the Chemistry Lab that was in the basement and later made into a Coffee Bar; in the 1940s/50s there were two laboratories, Chemistry and Physics. As a telescope and microscope are visible in this picture and the title is simply, "The Laboratory", perhaps a separate Physics Laboratory was yet to be established - probably in 1948 as described below.
The postcard picture includes Charlie's brass telescope that he bought from Reynolds and Branston, Leeds, in around 1920; this very telescope is now in the possession of an old-boy of Norwood as the colour photograph shows.


In January,1948, no.5 issue of The Rocket, page 5, announced:

      In further development of our Science side, Major Leathley
      has now been joined by Mr Crowther (B.Sc.(Vict.)) and the times
      for Physics and Chemistry have been entirely rearranged.
      We extend a hearty welcome to Mr Crowther and hope
      he will long remain with us.

This drawing shows the location of the Chemistry and of the Physics Labs
in the Basement up to (at least) 1956; this is the location of the above postcard.

The next drawing shows the location of the two Labs at the Harrogate end of the Second Floor of no.3 Leeds Road - from sometime in the 1960s.
































By Kevin Cheeseright:
Henry Inchcape Hall has to be one of the most eccentric men I have ever met. Just one glance would tell you that this man was a scientist - unusual for Norwood he was brilliant and a science 'O' level was guaranteed. I, and everyone else, passed at least one subject in science. In fact, almost the only subject that anyone past in. Henry Hall arrived dutifully every day, Monday to Thursday, at 4:30 to take three separate years (Junior, Middle and Senior's). He always carried a brown leather satchel (laden with chemicals and anything else put on the 'Shortage' list) and swinging an umbrella - quintessentially British.

The Science Monitor of the day (from the senior form) would collect Mr. Hall's tea, toast and cake from the Kitchen and carry the same up to the 3rd Floor Labs (5 Leeds Road). What food set out from the kitchen wasn't quite what arrived - normally a cake or piece of toast would be missing - sometime the whole tray was dropped as the boy trying to steal a piece of toast with his teeth while carrying the tray up the stairs obviously got a little out of sync. Hall had the driest wit of anyone I know and his daily comments regarding food rations, or missing or damaged goods, or nothing travels well, etc., were served up more regularly and more accurately than his tea.

By Tony Eden:

Our Chemistry class was an "extra" on the fees and comparatively few boys were interested or could persuade the parents to cough up the extra few pounds. I cannot recall why I started the subject, particularly since it required attendance after the main school day had finished, but start it I did, indeed adding the Physics class for good measure. It was a delight to be taught by Mr Crowther and Denys Bradbury, Bill Webster and I, with a few others, horsed around the locked Chemistry Lab in the basement waiting for Mr Crowther to arrive. It was a very small room but stocked with all sorts of intriguing bottles and apparatus, and a long bench down the right hand side with the usual Bunsen burners and gangly holders for the tubes and filters.

In those days you could buy a Perspex template with cut-outs of test tubes, filter holders and bendy glass tubes, all the wonderful bits and pieces that we encountered in these evening sessions. Writing up the experiments, using this template to illustrate the procedure was almost as enthralling as the experiments themselves.

As the GCE date approached, I was given the special privilege of using the lab. on Saturday mornings; how I managed to escape The Railway Club and be trusted with the key for the lab. is something I never worked out but there it was, the key in my hand. I suppose these days you would wear a white lab coat, be given a whole course on Health & Safety, and then have to sign something. All those strange substances, some pretty lethal, were at my disposal. On one particular Saturday morning I decided to try out the Phosphorus which Ken Crowther had told us about and emphasised its unusual nature. It was only a tiny piece but the damn stuff would not stop smouldering away on the bench - the very bench shown in the postcard above. It was no good putting water on it as I found out pretty early on but locking the door behind me I left at mid-day for home which was half a mile further along Leeds Road. In the 1950s the firemen were called to the fire station by a siren that could be heard all over Harrogate. That siren must have been on overtime that Saturday afternoon and every time it went off my heart sank at the prospect of it turning up at Norwood, or perhaps what was left of Norwood after some fool had been messing around with Phosphorus. And I had left my fingerprints on the key!




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