1. Seventeenth Century Physics
2.
Physics and Industry
3. Planning a Laboratory
4. Professor and Laboratory
5. Design of the Cavendish
6. Teaching and Research
7. Expanding the Cavendish
8. A World-Class Laboratory
9. The Rayleigh Wing
10. Cambridge and Manchester
11. Rutherford's Laboratory
12. The Mond Laboratory
13. The Austin Wing
14. Research Groups
15. A Laboratory Among Many
16. The Move to West Cambridge

 

4. Professor and Laboratory

The first Professor, James Clerk Maxwell, was appointed before the Laboratory was built. He travelled to laboratories in Glasgow and Oxford before making suggestions about the design to the architect, W.M. Fawcett. Construction began at the site in Free School Lane when Loveday of Kibworth's tender of £8,450 was accepted on 12th March 1872.

During construction Maxwell began teaching in any other rooms that were available. He described the experience: "Laboratory rising, I hear, but I have no place to erect my chair, but move about like the cuckoo." By the end of 1873 teaching had begun in the completed Lecture Hall and student laboratories.

The Laboratory for Experimental Physics was opened on 16th June 1874. Nine days later the recently founded journal 'Nature' published a full description of the new laboratory, noting the inscription on the doors, 'Magna opera Domini exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus', meaning 'The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein'.

During its construction the Laboratory had been known as the Devonshire Laboratory. At its opening it was suggested that the Laboratory be given the name 'Cavendish', in honour of the contributions made to physics by Henry Cavendish, the Duke's relative. It was agreed, and the Cavendish Laboratory was named.

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