The Boarding School
King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon 1914-1945


The 1930s Physics Lab

The Physics lab, 1930s The Physics lab, 1930s

The opening of a purpose-built physics lab in 1931 was an exciting development for the young physics master, Denis Dyson, so much so that he wrote this account enthusing its facilities



The new Physics lab., now nearing completion, will be a fine contrast to O.L., about which I have complained so much (very justifiably as I think) in the past four or five years ; and this account explains some of the considerations involved in its interior design.

The new room is actually more than twice the size of the present one, and as there will be no desks, it will be effectively about three times as large. At present there will be no lecture-room as well, so the tables used for experimental work will also be used for writing. The work benches will consist of two tables 4ft. square, and twelve 4ft. by 2ft. ; the latter will each provide space for two boys to do practical work together, and when their position is suitably altered, will also give writing space for two. The seats will be folding Tan-Sad chairs, which are scientifically designed to prevent fatigue ; the seats and back-rests are being made a special height to suit our particular requirements.

By having all the work benches movable and a standard height they can be arranged in the best way for any type of experiment, and also fitted together for experiments which require considerable space.

Gas, supplied in underground trenches, is brought to the tables by hinged pipes which automatically cut off the supply when they are lowered into the trench, to prevent the chance of a gas escape under the floor. A 230-volt electric supply will be available to every table by pendants ; the type of low voltage supply has not yet been decided on.

The demonstration table is specially designed to be as adaptable as possible. There will be a cupboard beneath, with doors at the side, and at one end to facilitate the removal of long apparatus.; there will he a rack inside which will act as a shelf without preventing the storage of tall apparatus. The table will be fitted with three hinged flaps by which its length and width may be altered at will. In addition, there will be a smaller demonstration table on wheels, on which apparatus can be erected in one part of the room and wheeled into position when required.

Concrete window sills will provide rigid supports for the balances, with a maximum of light. They, too, are the standard height, and so can be used in conjunction with the tables when desired.

There will be a small sink in the demonstration table, and two others ; the latter will have two cold taps, well separated, so that four boys may obtain water at once. One of the sinks is, in addition, fitted with a draining-board and a hot water supply.

For many optical experiments, the room must be partially or completely darkened. This will be achieved by the use of opaque blinds running in casings. I hope it may be possible to make the room dark enough for photographic work in class, especially as (with the advent of electric light) I wish to start. a School Photographic Society next term. There will also be a curtain by which half the room only may be darkened when desirable. These arrangements will also enable the room to be used for lantern work at a moment's notice.

There will (I think) be adequate cupboard accommodation, and this has been arranged so that no cupboards or shelves reach the floor, thereby eliminating the accumulation of dust. One of the cupboards, with the aid of a curtain, will supply a small darkened room on its own for galvanometer work or photometry.

A strong shelf with suitable accessories will be fitted for accumulator charging, and for electrical experiments involving large electric currents.

In conclusion I must express appreciation of the help I have received, in particular of the suggestions and encouragement of Mr. Perkins, the Director of Education for Warwickshire ; of the co-operation of Mr. Bunch and his assistants, and of Mr. Pletts, the Builders' Foreman ; of the most helpful advice with which Mr. Turner has always been ready; and, most of all, of the initiative and perseverance of the Head, without which the scheme would never have materialised at all.

Denis Dyson, 1931

Related article

Denis Dyson recalls his career at the school 1926-1975



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