John Meurig Thomas

He is Prof. Sir John Meurig Thomas, F.R.S., a distinguished chemist with many honours. He was educated in the University of Wales at Swansea, and worked later at the University College of North Wales in Bangor. In 1969 he was appointed the Head of Department at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth. At that time I was a second year undergraduate. Mansel Davies had been caretaker Professor of Chemistry in 1968 and 1969. John Meurig Thomas built up a distinguished group at the Edward Davies Chemical Laboratories (EDCL) in UCW Aberystwyth from 1969 to 1978. Kerry Pendergast, my biographer, was part of this group, which was the first to observe individual atoms by electron microscopy, among other achievements. JMT and several members of his group, notably John O. Williams (later Principal of NEWI), and Eurwyn Evans, were fluent Welsh language speakers. During this time JMT and myself established the EDCL as a world leading department of chemistry. In 1978 JMT left for Cambridge, and later became Fullerian Professor in the Royal Institution, the chair held by my Civil List predecessor Michael Faraday. JMT later became Master of Peterhouse Cambridge. I was not happy that he left EDCL for Cambridge, because he had created such a good research atmosphere, but I suppose he found the EDCL too restrictive. J. O. Williams stayed at the EDCL. The Principal of UCW Aberystwyth, Sir Goronwy Daniel, mentioned to me that he thought highly of John Meurig Thomas. This was at a reception for me in 1978 in honour of my admission to the D. Sc. degree at the youngest recorded age of 27 or 28 (still a record now). At the reception was his wife Lady Daniel, the Honourable Valerie Lloyd-George, grand-daughter of the Earl of Dwyfor. So all seemed set well for the EDCL. I think that I was right in not being happy at JMT’s move to Cambridge, because the EDCL was closed in about 1988 and Gareth Evans and I had to save it from being demolished by having it listed by CADW. For further details see Kerry’s biography. I was forced to leave the EDCL in 1983 by malign animosity, a weakness that led directly to the destruction of the EDCL.

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