Grave of FWR Brambell, Menai Bridge

menai_bridge_grave_fwr_brambellFrancis William Rogers Brambell, d.1970

Francis William Rogers Brambell was born in Sandycove, Dublin, in 1901. Aged only 29, he became Professor of Zoology at Bangor in 1930. He quickly realised that while the university was not particularly well endowed with laboratories, the surrounding landscape was full of possibilities for field studies.

His predecessor, Philip White, had died in 1929, a couple of years after creating a small marine laboratory on Banmenai_bridge_fwr_brambellgor pier. Prof Brambell took forward this work, and the university’s first course in marine zoology began in 1932. This eventually led to the creation of marine science buildings in Menai Bridge. The university’s expertise in marine science is internationally recognised today, and its ocean-going research ship, Prince Madog, is often berthed at Menai Bridge pier.

Prof Brambell (pictured right by kind permission of the Royal Society) served on the Home Guard during the Second World War. In 1944 he conducted post mortems on pilot whales stranded at Deganwy.

In 1953 the Agricultural Research Council set up a unit in Bangor, directed by Prof Brambell, for research on mammals’ reproductive systems.

He won the Royal Society’s Royal Medal in 1964 and was subsequently made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). He died in 1970. The Brambell Building, where the university’s School of Biological Sciences is based, is named after him. It’s home to the Brambell Natural History Museum.

He married Margaret Lilian Adgie in 1927. They had two children, one of whom, Michael, became London Zoo’s curator of mammals and was Chester Zoo’s director from 1978 to 1995.

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