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A Celebration of Chemistry

  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary group
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary guests
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary welcome
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary presentation
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary nanotechnology talk
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary Dr Jamie Gallagher
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary Old Boy Prof Malcolm Stevens FRS
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary Buckyballs cake
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary fire
  • Chemistry Lab Anniversary lab work

Several generations of Chemists from Bolton School Boys’ Division enjoyed a weekend dual celebration, marking 60 years since the opening of a purpose built chemistry block and the passing of Nobel Prize winning Old Boy, Professor Sir Harry Kroto (Bolton School, 1950-58), who the building was named after in 2013. Sir Harry won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 for co-discovering the new carbon allotrope, Buckminsterfullerene, was knighted in the same year and was President of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 2002-2004. 

Former teachers and alumni as well as current staff and pupils gathered to swap Chemistry reflections whilst reacquainting themselves with the Chemistry block where their lessons took place. Guests on the day represented classes from as far back as 1957 and more than 200 years of teaching service.  The day began with everyone catching up over tea and coffee and looking at a selection of old Chemistry exam papers (from as far back as 1905) and pictures of the labs.  Guests were then treated to two highly engaging talks.  The first, by award-winning science communicator and nano-chemist Dr Jamie Gallagher, showcased the world of nano-technology.  The second, by Old Boy Professor Malcolm Stevens FRS (1944-57), discussed everything from his memories of school to his pioneering work in cancer research.  After a fine lunch and a 'Buckyball' cake, decorated with the football-like structure of Buckminsterfullerene, action then moved to the Chemistry block where Lower School pupils greeted guests and told them of their research work which will be submitted as part of a Crest Award. There were also hands-on demonstrations and the running of some ‘favourite experiments’ requested by returning Old Boys. The team of current boys in Years 9-11 who are reigning national champions in the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) ‘Top of the Bench’ competition were on hand and guests enjoyed displays from extra-curricular competitions that pupils are encouraged to enter such as the Chemistry Olympiad and C3L6. 

Head of Chemistry in the Boys’ Division, Dr Michael Yates, said: “I am indebted to those former staff and pupils that returned for this event, it has been a special day which brought back many fond memories. Here’s to another 60 years!” 

The Boys’ Division has a strong tradition in Chemistry, inspiring a number of its former pupils into careers in chemistry.  Several former pupils have gone on to careers in academic chemistry, in addition to Professor Stevens, Professor Peter Skabara (University of Glasgow) was also able to make the trip back to Bolton for the day. Staff from the school have continued to contribute a great deal to chemistry education with many years of service to the development of A level Chemistry curricula, terms on the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) council, editorial boards and working groups.  The school itself is highly engaged with the RSC, regularly hosting the local Christmas lecture series as well as smaller events for teachers and pupils from local schools. 

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