‘Fantastic legacy’: Tributes paid to Jodrell Bank founder Sir Bernard Lovell

By Mancunian Matters staff

Tributes have been paid to Sir Bernard Lovell, the founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, who died yesterday aged 98.

Sir Bernard, who was born in Gloucestershire and first came to Manchester in 1936 to work at the University of Manchester’s Department of Physics, died peacefully at his home Swettenham, Cheshire.

During the Second World War, Sir Bernard led the team that developed H2S radar, work for which he was later awarded the OBE.

He returned to the Manchester Physics Department in 1945 and began work on cosmic rays using ex-military radar equipment. He brought this equipment to a University botany site at Jodrell Bank in late 1945, founding the world-famous Observatory which now exists here.

Jodrell Bank is dominated by the 76-metre Lovell Telescope, conceived by Sir Bernard. He worked with engineer Sir Charles Husband to build the telescope which has become an icon of British science and engineering and a landmark in the Cheshire countryside.

A hugely ambitious project, the telescope was by far the world’s largest when it was completed in 1957 and within days tracked the rocket that carried Sputnik 1 into orbit, marking the dawn of the space age.

It is still the third largest steerable telescope in the world and in 2011, Jodrell Bank Observatory was placed on the UK Government’s shortlist for World Heritage Site status.

Today, the Lovell Telescope plays a key role in world-leading research on pulsars, testing the understanding of extreme physics including Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

TV scientist Dr Brian Cox, who has presented a number of shows from Jodrell Bank, tweeted earlier today: “I met him many times – a great man.”

President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “We are all greatly saddened by Sir Bernard’s death. He was a towering figure, not just in Manchester or the UK, but globally.

“Sir Bernard leaves a fantastic legacy at the University’s Jodrell Bank Observatory which is a world class centre for astronomy research, an iconic science monument and a centre that attracts thousands of visitors and inspires scientists of the future.”

He is survived by four of his five children, fourteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.

A Book of Condolence will be opened at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and an online version will also be available.

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