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History - People - C R Bailey


C. R. Bailey

Assistant Lecturer 1921-1928
Lecturer 1928-1930
Senior Lecturer 1930-1939
Reader 1939-1954

C R (Charles Reynolds) Bailey was a very tweedy physical chemist with a military manner (some called him Colonel Bailey) and a distinct interest in the recreational aspects of organic chemistry. Always extremely polite and courteous, Bailey was a bachelor and much of his life was within the college. He was member of a college dining society, a member of the Wine Buying Committee, and was reputed to have drunk a pint in every pub in Kent.

It may have during one of his forays to that part of the world that he developed an interest in Borely Rectory, often claimed to be "the most haunted house in England". ( www.borleyrectory.com ; Connecticut Paranormal Society ). There were also rumours that Bailey's sister was married to the Rector or possibly to one of the investigators of psychic phenomena engaged in researching Borley. John Dunderdale remembers that amongst other topics Bailey lectured on the Kinetic Theory of Gases, during which he was liable to show a photograph taken at Borely Rectory of a brick floating in mid air. This provided a demonstration of the fact that, although highly improbable, it was possible for all the atoms in a body to instantaneously move upwards. Various other photographs from the Rectory appeared at appropriate times.

He had studied French as an undergraduate before switching into chemistry. He worked on infrared-spectroscopy before being evacuated to Bangor during the war, returning to London in 1945. Alan Rimmer remembers that when President of Chem Phys Soc ( 1946-47 ) Bailey gave a Presidential Lecture entitled "Oh God! Oh Montreal!" (quoting Butler's poem lamenting the philistinism of Canadians). This mysterious title concealed a slide show of views from bedrooms he had stayed in. Amongst the highlights of the talk was a photograph of a set of traffic lights to which he added the advice that "one should never stay in a room overlooking the A1".

He is also remembered for his opposition to the admission of women to the Lab Dinner. When Kathleen Lonsdale joined the Department in 1947 from the RI, the issue came to a head. Ingold's position was that either women would be admitted or the Lab Dinner would cease to exist. Bailey was forced to back down.

Alwyn Davies remembers that "when Bailey retired he moved to Holt in Norfolk, not far from my parents' home. I always intended to visit him there, but never got around to it."

We are grateful to Alan Rimmer, John Dunderdale, Bill Woodings, and Alwyn Davies for these reminiscences.

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This page last modified 20 September, 2010

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