Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.
We had three children, they were all growing up. They went to the Newcastle Central High School for Girls, and of course with growing children they had friends, and for those who know Northumberland, they will not be surprised to say that we had a marvellous time. It was a 10-minute drive down to the beach in Tynemouth, Whitley Bay, the beaches were superb. The water, I have to say, was jolly cold, in the North Sea, but they were excellent beaches. The hinterland, up in the Tyne and the Upper Tyne, Hadrian’s Wall which we explored in detail and the Roman camps that were there, the River Coquet and Rothbury, Alnwick Castle, and going up north there were Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh – they are superb Norman forts which are not as well known as they should be.
And then, further north again, there are the Farne Islands, which was really the northern seat of English Christianity when the monks came over from Ireland and founded the monastery at Lindisfarne. And in the Farne Islands, actually, there is now a bird sanctuary. In about July time each year, literally millions of birds of many different sorts, puffins, kestrels, eiders, you name it, seabirds of all sort came and nested in the cliffs, in the ground, in every nook and cranny, and it is just alive with birds. And we went out, by boat, there to see this. It was a wonderful place for young people to grow up in, and a wonderful place to do science. The other thing, of course, was it was very close to Scotland, and before I’d gone to Newcastle I’d not had the chance and the privilege of going to Scotland. And we’d been to Wales on a holiday once. But Scotland was also, of course, very much more accessible, and we went on several trips up there as well.
Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.
Central Newcastle High School, Northumberland, Tynemouth, Whitley Bay, North Sea, River Tyne, Hadrian’s Wall, River Coquet, Rothbury, Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh, Farne Islands, Lindisfarne, Scotland, Newcastle, Wales