So this photo of the Cavendish Laboratory is from 1939, and I was wondering if anyone knew any more about who was in the photo. (Click to enlarge)

From notes I've been given, I believe the front row is:

DE Lea?; Unknown; ME Oliphant; Norman Feather; GFC Searle; Bragg Jr; John Cockroft; Philip Dee; James Chadwick or CTR Wilson? Miss Davies; Unknown

The second row definitely has Sam Devons (5th from left; dark shirt), and there's some suggestion that the man to his left (i.e. 4th from left on 2nd row) is Hermann Bondi; Eric Wild is in the 3rd row (4th from left)

Edit: Context of the photo. I don't know anything more about why it was taken other than it being the yearly (1939) photo of the department's Faculty Staff and Graduates; a family member has inherited it as his father is in it.

Any help, contributions or suggestions appreciated!

Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ It's the Cavendish Laboratory (as I stated) at Cambridge, and the Crocodile represents Prof. Lord Rutherford. It is a question about the history of physics (as I tagged it, and as you've got listed as a valid tag) so I didn't think it was inappropriate. $\endgroup$
    – Savara
    May 5, 2015 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ Some context might help. Where did the photo come from, is it from a book? What is the occasion for the people gathering, is it a conference, do they work there? Is there a particular purpose to identifying people in this picture, and who gave you the "notes"? $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    May 5, 2015 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ A small contribution for future research, this issue of cavmag has the 1932 group photograph across pages 2 and 3 (all named). Many but not all of the 1939 group are in this older photo, but they're not sitting in the same place. It did help me to confirm some of your names though by comparison, and might prove of some minor use in a few further identifications to someone with the patience for the task. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2015 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'm guessing they're all dead now? I had the pleasure of meeting Hermann Bondi but it was about 20 years ago when he was still Vice Master at Churchill College. Had an anecdote for any situation :-) $\endgroup$
    – winwaed
    May 6, 2015 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


So in answer to my own question, I've since emailed Cambridge and had a fantastically helpful reply: they've sent me a photo of the the fully named / annotated original photo.

Hope this might be of interest to some.

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    $\begingroup$ U.Cambridge seems to be full of these photos - corridors everywhere seem to be covered with them! I remember the corridor to the 1A & 1B geology classrooms had the Sedgwick club photos - starting in the 19th century (beards and top hats) and all the way to the modern student look. I believe I'm there now. David Attenborough was in the 1940s section. $\endgroup$
    – winwaed
    May 6, 2015 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ That is terrific. Let's play "spot the Nobel prize winners". I will start: Second row, Max Perutz - Chemistry, 1962. $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    May 6, 2015 at 13:49

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