Drawings by John Moss
Invention & Discovery
Mathison Turing was born in Paddington, London on the 23rd June
1912, the son of Julius Mathison and Ethel Sara Turing, and
was educated at Sherborne Public School. Turing could be rightly
described as the effective founder of modern Computer Science.
Yet he was thought to be an undistinguished pupil who was probably
wasting his time with his interest in scientific matters - not
thought then to be appropriate to a Public School education.
However, he was successful in his School Certificate and from
1931-34 he was an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge,
where he studied quantum mechanics, probability and logic.
By 1935 he had been elected a fellow of King's College and was
awarded a Smith's Prize in 1936 for work on probability theory
- he seemed on course for a successful and uneventful career.
In 1936 he published "The Turing Machine: On Computable Numbers",
in which he outlined and defined the essential principles of
the computer - a single machine which can be turned to any well-defined
task by being supplied with the appropriate programme. The paper
attracted a great deal of attention in scientific circles.
From 1936 to 1938 he worked at the University of Princeton where
he worked on theories of using electromagnetic relays to multiply
binary numbers, and gained his PhD, as well as publishing various
scientific papers on logic, algebra and number theory. As the
prospect of war with Germany loomed he turned his attention
to the study of ciphers and codes. In 1939 he returned to Cambridge
and began work on the German Enigma cipher problem, devising
the so-called "Bombe" machine for Enigma decryption.
On the outbreak of war he was moved in September 1939 to Bletchley
Park, and took up full-time work on analysis of codes and code-breaking.
By 1942 his machines were effectively breaking German U-boat
codes, saving many lives in the Battle of the Atlantic.
In 1948, Turing worked at Manchester University, developing
further his work on programming and world's first serious use
of a computer, as well as publishing numerous philosophical
papers on machine intelligence. In 1951 he was elected a Fellow
of the Royal Society.
Turing was also a homosexual. At the age of 41 he was arrested
in Manchester on a charge of indecency, and tried as a homosexual,
(at that time a criminal offence in the United Kingdom), with
ensuing loss of all security clearances, and was thus prevented
from completing, or even having access to his own work in biology
and physics. The court also ordered that he undergo "chemical
therapy" for his condition (ie. his homosexuality) - a course
of libido suppressing hormone drugs.
Tragically, he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning on 7th
June 1954 at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Earlier that year
he had been appointed to the Readership in the Theory of Computing
at Manchester University.
He is best remembered as the tragic genius who laid the foundation
for the modern theory of artificial intelligence and as one
of our greatest code-breakers who was instrumental in cracking
the Nazi Enigma Machine during the Second World War.
Alan Turing Way at Eastlands which runs between the City of
Manchester Stadium and the National Velodrome is named after
In September 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public
apology on behalf of the British Government for the harsh and
inhumane treatment to which Alan Turing had been subjected.
Sir Bernard Lovell was the celebrated Professor of Radio Astronomy
at Manchester University and Director of
Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope
from 1951-1980. The world's first radar transmitter
and receiver was installed by Lovell at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire,
in December 1945.
Initially, Doctor Lovell, (as he then was), had installed ex-Second
World War military radar equipment at the University's botanical
research station in the Cheshire countryside, but, by the late
1940s he had already conceived the idea of a steerable radio
telescope. Construction of the 250 foot diameter parabolic reflecting
bowl began in October 1952 and the telescope entered service
in August 1957. Later, in October 1957, it was also involved
in tracking the Soviet Union's (and the world's first) 'Sputnik'
artificial satellite. Subsequently, Jodrell Bank has been involved
in innumerable astronomical and space research projects. Initially
the telescope was known simply the 'Mark 1A'. It still remains
one of the largest steerable radio telescopes in the world today.
The development of astronomy at Jodrell Bank really stems from
Lovell's very small and modest installations, though the observatory
has now grown to a total of eight telescopes, including the
MERLIN array of smaller telescopes distributed over England.
Work initially concentrated on the behaviour of meteors, but
gradually shifted to cosmic radio waves emanating from deep
space. This was to dominate the activities at Jodrell Bank,
and established radio astronomy as a revolutionary and viable
method of investigating the universe. Before Jodrell Bank, astronomers
had worked almost entirely within the visible light spectrum,
and what could actually be seen with the naked eye. This was
Lovell's main claim to fame - that he pioneered radio astronomy
and made it a feasible method of space observation and exploration.
As a result of this important and costly work, most of the cost
of the radio telescope was met by Lord
Nuffield and the observatory was later renamed the Nuffield
Radio Astronomy Laboratories. The Mark I is now known as the
Lovell Telescope, in honour of Sir Bernard Lovell.
Edmund Cartwright was born in Nottingham in 1743, into a fairly
wealthy land owning family. His brother John was to go on to
be a famous parliamentary reformer, but Edmund chose religion,
and became rector of a church in Leicestershire. Although, so
far as is known, he never ever came to Manchester, his invention
of the power loom was to fundamentally influence the development
of industrialisation in the city by the beginning of the 19th
It began when Cartwright visited Richard
Arkwright's factory in 1784, and was inspired by what he
saw of Arkwright's mechanised factory systems; he immediately
started work on developing a machine that could improve the
speed and quality of weaving. With the help of a carpenter and
a blacksmith he produced his first working power loom. It performed
rather poorly - nevertheless, he took out a patent for his machine
By 1787 he had opened a weaving mill in Doncaster and had soon
installed looms driven by the radical new steam powered engines
produced by Watt and Boulton. Practically all the processes
in the production of weaving were now be performed mechanically.
The main task of the weavers employed by Cartwright was repairing
broken threads on the machine. Problems ironed out, eventually
Cartwright's power looms performed well.
But he was no businessman and was eventually declared bankrupt.
Disappointed but not disheartened, Cartwright turned to new
projects - between 1790 and 1797 he took out patents for a wool-combing
machine and an alcohol engine. In 1799 four hundred of Cartwright's
power looms we purchased by a Manchester company; despite the
factory burning to the ground, probably as a result of arson
carried out by Luddite workers who feared losing their jobs,
the power loom had arrived, and was to be instrumental in the
rise of Manchester as a major textile producing City.
Other local manufacturers were dissuaded for a time from buying
Cartwright's machines, but in the fullness of time their advantages
were self-evident and the power loom was here to stay.
By the early 19th century, most factories in the region were
using a modified version of Cartwright's power loom, despite
the patent on his invention, and he applied to Parliament for
compensation. MPs such as future Prime Minister and local Bury
mill-owner, Sir Robert Peel,
had already made a great deal of money from the modified power
loom, and there was general support for Cartwright's claim.
In 1809 Parliament granted Cartwright the sum of £10,000 in
compensation for his loss of earnings through theft of his idea.
He went on to retire to a farm in Kent where he died in 1823.
Charles Macintosh was born in 1766 in Scotland. By 1777 his
father had set up a factory in Dennistoun to manufacture a material
called "cudbear", a violet-red dying powder.
From the outset, Macintosh inherited a strong interest in chemistry.
In his middle age, in 1818, he discovered how to produce dissolved
India rubber from coal gas. By joining two sheets of fabric
together with this new rubber solution, he had invented a new
material that was waterproof.
In the 1820s Macintosh had gone into partnership with Hugh
Birley, a cotton manufacturer from Manchester. During this
time he had developed his revolutionary waterproof material
and later went into business with Thomas Hancock. By 1824, with
Hancock, he had resolved all outstanding problems and to develop
a viable manufacturing process for the production of waterproofed
sheets and coats. His new rainproof coat became known as a "Macintosh",
or simply a "Mack".
In 1834 he founded a waterproofing company in Glasgow, but because
of intense opposition from local tailors, who were unhappy about
the new material, he moved to Hulme in Manchester where he established
a factory in 1840 to exploit the material further. The factory
is now owned by the Dunlop Rubber Company.
Although Macintosh is best remembered for his raincoats, he
was also a brilliant chemist with achievements in many other
fields, including the invention of new bleaching powders, as
well as working with James Neilson to develop a hot-blast process
to produce high quality cast iron. He also established the first
Scottish alum works. Macintosh died in 1843.
Roscoe was to become Professor of Chemistry at Owens College,
later to become the University of Manchester, from 1857 to 1886,
and built the first ever practical chemistry laboratory in Britain.
Also at one time he was elected Liberal MP for South Manchester.
The present University School of Pharmacy contains the laboratory
in which he first isolated the element 23 - Vanadium in 1865.
In 1858 Roscoe also reputedly produced the world's first flashlight
photograph. The Roscoe Medal, commemorating this distinguished
Victorian chemist is awarded for outstanding contributions to
and excellence in Chemistry in the UK.
Roscoe believed that students should be given "a careful
and complete general training". In his presidential address
before the British Association for the Advancement of Science
in 1884, he stated that his students would be given "as
sound and extensive a foundation in the theory and practice
of chemical science as their time and abilities will allow."
Roscoe was a Fellow of the Royal Society. The University's Roscoe
Building is named after him.
Steptoe & Dr Robert Edwards
Dr Robert Edwards
Steptoe was the Oldham Royal Hospital gynaecologist, who, together
with Cambridge physiologists Dr Robert Edwards and Doctor Barry
Bavister, with a research team from Cambridge University, succeeded
in producing the world's first ever 'test tube' baby, Louise
Joy Brown, on 25 July 1978.
Baby Louise, hailed at that time as "a miracle baby",
was born to mother Lesley Brown of Bristol, who, like many other
infertile women at the time, had little hope of ever conceiving
Louise, a perfectly normal baby, weighed 5lb 12 oz at birth
by Caesarian section in a groundbreaking procedure. She, and
Dr Steptoe were the subject of an hour long television documentary
which was seen by 400 million people world-wide. Baby Louise
also had the distinction of having a Royal Mail commemorative
stamp being struck to mark her birth.
Steptoe's pioneering IVF procedures were to make possible thousands
of births to otherwise childless couples throughout the world,
and is widely held to be one of the most important scientific
breakthroughs of the 20th century. Doctor
Edwards died in the spring of 2013.
Born on the 20 October 1891 in Bollington, Cheshire, the son
of John Joseph Chadwick and Ann Mary Knowles, he attended the
Manchester High School and in 1908 entered Owens College (now
the University of Manchester). He graduated from the Honours
School of Physics in 1911 with an MSc and in 1921 was awarded
a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge.
After 2 years working with Professor Ernest
Rutherford in Manchester, in 1913 he was recommended for
a research scholarship at Reichsanstalt in Berlin to work with
Hans Geiger. This resulted
in his internment during the First World War as a potential
security threat. After the war, in 1919, he returned to England
to work at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, and was destined
to eventually became its director.
In 1925, he married Aileen Stewart-Brown of Liverpool. They
had twin daughters, and the family lived in Denbigh, North Wales.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927, and was awarded
the Royal Medal of Royal Society in 1928.
In 1930 working with Bothe and the Joliot-Curies, Chadwick identified
a neutral particle, the so-called 'neutron'. This discovery
subsequently lead to the development of the nuclear fission
process. That same year he also jointly published "Radiation
from Radioactive Substances" with Ellis and Geiger.
In 1935 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Chadwick remained at Cambridge until 1935 when he was elected
to the Lyon Jones Chair of Physics at the University of Liverpool
where he initiated an accelerator programme. From 1943-1946
he headed the British Mission to the Los Alamos atomic weapons
project, and he was knighted in 1945. He went on to become master
of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. From 1957 to 1962
he was a part-time member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy
Authority. He retired in 1959 and died on the 22 November 1974
Lawrence Earnshaw, born into a weaving family at Mottram Moor
some time around 1707, is perhaps, undeservedly, one of the
least remembered of local celebrities. He spent much of his
adult life inventing ingenious machines, yet died in relative
Despite having no formal education, from a young age he was
showing a curiosity and interest in clock mechanisms and other
machines. He began his working life as an apprentice to a local
tailor - a position he maintained for eleven years, while developing
an impressively wide range of other skills, including engraving,
painting, making optical instruments and sundials, tuning violins
and harpsichords, gun making, bell founding and coffin-making.
But of all these, it was clock-making that held his interest
most, and he specialised in creating many long case clocks,
culminating in his greatest achievement, an astronomical clock.
For this he made all the calculations, and spent over seven
years in its creation, despite continuing money problems. Finally,
the finished timepiece was sold to the Earl of Bute for the
sum of £150. One of Earnshaw's clocks still survives in
Around 1753 he invented a machine to spin and weave cotton,
but, more of an inventor than businessman, and awe-struck by
the speed and efficiency of his invention, he soon after destroyed
it, believing that it would cause widespread unemployment and
hardship among local spinners and weavers. Thus his machine
disappeared into obscurity and Earnshaw failed to achieve either
the fame or wealth which he undoubtedly would have earned from
Lawrence Earnshaw died on the 12th May 1767 and is buried in
St Michael's churchyard in Mottram in an unmarked grave. The
local parish record shows an entry for his death, describing
him as an "...ingenious man of Mottram".A Blue Plaque
erected on the Court House in Mottram marks his achievements.