George Porter (1920 - 2002)

Winner of the Nobel prize for Chemistry.

George Porter was born in Stainforth on the 6th December 1920. The son of Methodist lay preacher and local builder Mr. John S. Porter, George attended primary school at Stainforth, and at the age of 11 went to Thorne Grammar School. According to an article in the Doncaster Evening Post (31/10/1967), there's a well thumbed record card in a filing cabinet at Thorne Grammar School, headed, "George Porter, Sharlston, Oldfield Lane, Stainforth.". Whilst he attended Thorne Grammar School, his family moved from Oldfeild Lane to East Lane, where George became a firm friend of Dr. Robert M. L. Anderson who lived next door. George and Robert cycled the three miles to school at Thorne together every day.

In 1938 he went, as Ackroyd Scholar, to Leeds University. It was at Leeds where his interest in physical chemistry and chemical kinetics grew, his inspiration coming from the teaching of M.G. Evans.

He later became an Officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Special Branch, where he was trained in electronics and pulse techniques concerning radar operation.

In 1945, he went to work in Cambridge as a postgraduate research student with Professor R.G.W. Norrish, where he studied free radicals produced in gaseous photochemical reactions. An idea occurred to him that the use of short pulses of light would enable him to study the behavior of free radicals, which later led to the construction of an apparatus to aid his studies in 1947.

On the 25th August 1949 he married Stella Jean Brooke, with whom he had two sons, John and Andrew.

He continued to collaborate with Norrish until he left Cambridge in 1954.

His later work was mainly concerned with showing how the flash-photolysis method could be extended and applied to many diverse problems of physics, chemistry and biology. He made contributions to other techniques, including that of radical trapping and matrix stabilisation.

For a short while he worked at the British Rayon Research Association, where he addressed the problems of dye fading and the phototendering of fabrics.

The following is a list of his achievements:

1952 - He became a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
1955 - He became a Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Sheffield.
1955 - He received the Corday-Morgan Medal of the Chemical Society
1958 - He was Tilden Lecturer of the Chemical Society.
1960 - He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
1966 - He became Director and Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution
1966 - He became Honorary Professor of the University of Kent at Canterbury.
1967 - He became an honorary fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
1967 - He became Visiting Professor of University College London.
1968 - Honorary D.Sc from Utah, Salt Lake City (U.S.A.),
1968 - Honorary member of the New York Academy of Sciences.
1968 - President of the Comité International de Photobiologie
1969 - He was Liversidge Lecturer.
1970 - He became President of the Chemical Society.
1970 - Honorary D.Sc’s from Sheffield East Anglia, Surrey and Durham.
1971 - He was awarded the Davy Medal.
1971 - Honorary D.Sc from Leeds, Leicester, Heriot-Watt and City University
1972 - Received Knighthood in January of this year.

On a personal note, his main recreational pastime was sailing.

The link below will allow you to download a pdf file, (you will need Acrobat to read it), of George Porter’s Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1967 entitled, "Flash photolysis and some of its applications"





Stainforth 2001 Homepage