RELATIVES of Todmorden’s Nobel Prize winners were present as the honours boards from the former Todmorden Grammar School were unveiled at their new home.
Family members of Sir John Cockcroft, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951, and Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1973, joined civic dignitaries and other guests for the official unveiling ceremony at Todmorden Library last week.
The boards, which were on display at Ferney Lee School, have been loaned to the library for 12 months by the school governors.
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said the process of putting the boards on public view started two years ago when former students of the grammar school asked why the boards were not on display for the community.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to be here today to see these magnificent boards,” he said.
“The amazing thing about these two men is not only were they from the same school but they were taught by the very same teacher.
“Todmorden has more Nobel Prize winners than 47 countries. That in itself is a great thing.”
Sir John was awarded a County Major Scholarship in 1914 and Sir Geoffrey was awarded a Royal Science Scholarship in 1939. Both their achievements are included on the honours boards.
Dr John Wilkinson, Sir Geoffrey’s brother, said: “The boards used to be in the hallway as an inspiration for students. What a remarkable sixth form it was.
“I think we can say that everybody on these boards has done the school proud and has done the town proud. They have all had brilliant careers.”
Peter Cockcroft, Sir John’s nephew, quoted a speech given at Todmorden Town Hall by Sir Mark Oliphant, vice-chancellor of the National University of Australia at the time, who gave the following description of his uncle:
“His capacity for hard and continuous work was phenomenal, his tenacity of purpose enormous, his courage when things went wrong, outstanding.”
Calderdale councillor Olwen Jennings (Lib Dem, Todmorden) said the two men came from totally different backgrounds but both achieved so much in their respective fields.
“We should celebrate two great men who came from the town and won the Nobel Prize. What a wonderful heritage of this town.
“I do think the public should see the boards. If youngsters come and see this, what an inspiration that two men could win scholarships and go on to great things.
“Anybody can do it.”
Mayor of Todmorden Coun Margareta Holmstedt said: “We are here today to honour two Nobel Prize winners but also to honour those who won scholarships to Cambridge and Oxford.
“These are of real historic interest.”