History

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft FRS (1897 – 1967)

Awarded the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics with E T S Walton “for their pioneering work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles

Born on 27 May 1897 in Todmorden, straddling the Lancashire–Yorkshire border in northern England. In his early years he experienced a varied educational background.

He studied mathematics at Manchester University in 1914–1915, but the First World War interrupted his studies with service in the Royal Field Artillery.

After the war, he returned instead to the College of Technology in Manchester to study electrical engineering. Later he joined the Metropolitan Vickers (“Metrovick”) Electrical Company as an apprentice for two years, but subsequently went to St John’s College, Cambridge, and took the Mathematical Tripos in 1924. This wide-ranging education served him well in later years. Nowadays, modern accelerator science and engineering relies on such a broad application of skill and innovation.