Reporter 400, 21 April 1997

Lord Dainton revisits the School of Chemistry

Fred Dainton, as he is affectionately known, is not an infrequent visitor to the University, having once held the Chair of Physical Chemistry here (1950-1965) and having served on many University committees both then, and since (most recently as a member of the Edward Boyle Memorial trust). It was the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Colvin Room in the School of Chemistry which brought Fred back to Leeds again, on the 14th of March last term, when he delivered a few well chosen words to mark the anniversary event.

James Colvin, half a century ago, had been a lecturer in Chemistry here, particularly respected for the considerable concern he had for his students – both for their academic work and their personal problems. his untimely death in 1949 caused a surge of feeling in the University which resulted soon afterwards in the establishment of the Colvin Memorial Trust Fund. In 1977 it became possible to give physical expression to that memorial by the provision of this unique reading room, within the Chemistry building, and it was Fred Dainton who had presided then, 20 years ago, at the formal opening of this room.

The Colvin room is not only a pleasantly furnished, quiet and well-lit place for students to meet in, for study or relaxation, but it houses a specialist library. This library, which took over from the original undergraduate library of 20 years ago, is fully self-supporting. Its collection now numbers about 3,000 books, catering specifically for the needs (and the wider interests) of chemistry students; it covers the entire range of chemical topics, and is kept up to date continuously by fresh purchases – thanks to the regular annual income provided by the Colvin Fund. The Room is rendered all the more attractive by its collection of framed paintings on the walls; these were the work of Rupert Bradley, another Chemistry lecturer here, an artist in his spare time.

In his remarks, Lord Dainton paid warm tribute to James Colvin, whom he had already met before he took up his Chair at Leeds. That the memory of Colvin's character could be kept alive through this dedicated reading room was a special privilege for the Chemistry Department, and for the University.

Dr J H Robertson
School of Chemistry

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