The Chemical Laboratories

Chemistry LaboratoryLike so many public bodies in Wales the University at Aberystwyth has, since its foundation, benefited enormously from the generosity of the Davies family of Llandinam. At the turn of the century, under Principal T.F. Roberts, the College had outgrown its original premises on the seafront and was seeking ways of re-housing some of its departments. Chemistry, under the direction of Professor J.J. Sudborough, was a rapidly expanding research department in desperate need of additional facilities and accommodation. A temporary solution was found in January 1903 by re-housing the laboratories in the Old Assembly Rooms in Laura Place which the College rented from the Nanteos estate. In March that year Gwendoline, Margaret, David and their step-mother Mrs Edward Davies offered £20,000 towards the cost of new chemical laboratories in memory of Edward Davies who until his death had been Treasurer of the College. (The original offer was in fact for the College library though Principal Roberts persuaded David Davies of the urgent need for laboratory space.) Years later, Gwendoline Davies feared that her father’s name was 'almost forgotten ... If you want to know what he was like think of Daisy [her sister, Margaret] — honest, kind, unselfish, straight as a die and as unbending'.

After prolonged discussions where to develop away from Old College on the seafront, an eleven acre site on Buarth Mawr was purchased for £2,500 from W.H. Colby, a member of the College Council. Sudborough travelled Britain and Germany studying the most modern laboratories and returned to plan the new building, designing staff, student and postgraduate laboratories for one hundred and twenty students.