Former London University science labs
University College London set up science laboratories in this shop in 1942. Discussions had begun as early as 1938 for Bangor University to host students who would be evacuated from London in the event of war.
In 1939 the first cohort of 197 UCL students arrived, with 17 of their teaching staff. From then until 1944, around 200 UCL students each year were based in Bangor. Some of the students eventually became members of staff at Bangor University.
In the 1940s Bangor University was much smaller than it is now, and some university buildings were commandeered for war uses. Finding suitable premises for all of the UCL students was a problem. Initially science students made do with a laboratory bench in a room in the university’s main building, but from 1942 there were facilities at 164 High Street, previously a bicycle shop.
The UCL lecturers who spent the war years in Bangor included John Neale, an expert on Elizabethan history, zoologist GP Wells (son of author HG Wells), and palaeobiologist DMS Watson, the first scientist to show that mammals evolved from reptiles.
The evacuation proved valuable to both universities. Bangor University was able to maintain academic activity despite a fall in its own student numbers, as a result of many young adults being involved in the war effort. UCL suffered more bomb damage than any other university but teaching continued in Bangor. When UCL left Bangor in 1944, the UCL staff members presented their Bangor colleagues with a set of the full Oxford English Dictionary in a bookcase made of wood “salved from the burnt libraries of the College in London”.
Today 164 High Street is the premises of women’s fashion shop Morgan.
With thanks to David Roberts, of Bangor University
Postcode: LL57 1NU