Manuscripts and Special Collections

The first experiments at University College, Nottingham

June 28th, 2011 at 09:06

The 30th of June 2011 marks the 130th anniversary of the opening of University College, Nottingham. This is part of a series of blogs as taken from the Nottingham and Midland Counties Daily Express, which recorded the events of the day.

Last night, in the large lecture theatre at the University College, Professor Fleming gave several interesting experiments on electric machines and the transmission of light. There was a large number of visitors. The lecturer explained his experiments by several interesting remarks, although, as he stated, what he might say would not take the form of a set lecture, which it was hoped would be given to the students of the College in the future. The first experiment elicited loud applause and consisted of the front and back gas burners of the theatre being turned out and lighted alternately by an electric spark one from the other. The next was an experiment with a gramme dynamo machine, being in reality, as the lecturer explained, a galvanic battery. The gramme was to enable them to transmit from one place to another mechanical power. The professor’s assistant then turned a machine, which, being attached to an electro magnetic engine by means of a coil of insulated wire, turned a wheel which lifted a weight of four pounds. By means of a waterfall it was hoped, said the professor, that at no distant date they might hope to see various heads of water used in this way, and such waterfalls as Niagara might be able to use a part of their strength by this means in our workshops and factories. The production of light and colour, by the burning of two carbon poles, was also exhibited, and an experiment of the spectrum, or a production of the colours of the rainbow by electric light, elicited loud applause.

Professor Clowes, with whom was Professor Fleming, then gave a short address on electric machines and their uses. The first experiment was the storage of electricity, and the manner in which it worked itself off by turning a wheel. By means of a magic-lantern-looking machine insects were magnified on a sheet, the production of electric light. The next experiment was highly interesting and consisted in the thawing of a window pane after it had been frozen. The magnetic power of iron was then shown under the influence of electricity, and was made to attract a weight of 56lb. Iron filings were sprinkled over magnets, under the influence of which they became magnetised. Several other interesting experiments were given the lime light. Match boxes, an image, and a life buoy were then placed under the influence of the electric light, having on them previously a luminous paint, which retained their luminous character. The experiments closed with an electric illumination of the words, “Success to the University College of Nottingham.”

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