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Issue 473, 19 November 2001

Towering success of stonemason's son

The stonemason’s son who came to Leeds on a scholarship and became one of the University’s most significant benefactors was remembered this month on the 50th anniversary of the building bearing his name.

Legacy lives on – John Fisher and Bill Hudson in front of the Parkinson Tower

After seeing plans for new University buildings in 1936, former student Frank Parkinson – by then one of West Yorkshire’s most successful businessmen – was so impressed that he offered to pay for the entrance hall and tower. The Parkinson Tower has been a major Leeds landmark and a defining feature of the University since its opening on 9 November 1951.

Fifty years on, the Frank Parkinson Yorkshire Trust has presented the University with 100,000 to equip new facilities – the Frank Parkinson Tissue Engineering Laboratory – for research into tissue repair and replacement.

Trust chairman Bill Hudson said: "The Trust’s aims include the promotion of education in the region and, because of Frank Parkinson’s links with the University, we are very pleased to make this donation."

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for research and project leader Professor John Fisher said: "We are delighted to be building on Frank Parkinson’s historic association with the University."

Born in 1887, Frank Parkinson began his studies in electrical engineering in 1908 at the University, then known as the Yorkshire College. Originally from Guiseley, he first worked for local firm Rhodes Motors, before forming Crompton Parkinson in 1927. The company pioneered the modern light bulb, making Parkinson a millionaire.

Having benefited himself from a Baines scholarship, Parkinson wanted to encourage more students to enter higher education. Research students continue to benefit from the Baines, Crockatt and Rutson scholarships, to which he contributed.

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