The Old Philologians Association


Old Philologians' Annual Dinner 2013

The Old Philologians' Annual Dinner was held on Wednesday 30th October at our normal venue, The Royal Air Force Club, Piccadilly with thanks again to Sir Michael Beetham. The numbers present were down a little from previous years with around sixty-eight members and wives attending.

Our genial President, Sir Brian Vickers, took the Chair and after saying grace we sat down sitting down to enjoy an excellent meal of Asparagus Soup, Chicken Supreme with mushrooms and Madeira Sauce and fresh vegetables, and followed by Vacherin with a compote of forest fruits and vanilla ice cream. After the loyal toast Sir Brian then introduced our guest speaker for the evening Sir Michael Pepper FRS FR.Eng. He is a physicist notable for his work in semiconductor nanostructures. He was at the school between 1953- 60 and subsequently gained a BSc and PhD from the University of Reading and an MA and ScD from Cambridge University.

Sir Michael was at the Plessey Research Laboratories when he formed a collaboration with Sir Nevill Mott, (Nobel Laureate, 1977) which resulted in him commencing research in the Cavendish Laboratory in 1973 on the localization in semiconductor structures. He subsequently joined the GEC Hirst Research Centre where he set up joint Cambridge-GEC projects. He was one of three authors on the paper that eventually brought a Nobel prize for the quantum Hall effect to Klaus von Klitzing. Sir Michael formed the Semiconductor Physics research group at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1984, and following a period as Royal Society Warren Research Fellow   was appointed, Professorship of Physics, at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1987. In 1991, he was appointed Managing Director of the newly established Toshiba Cambridge Research Centre, now known as the Cambridge Research Laboratory (CRL) of Toshiba Research Europe. The following year, 2001, he was appointed Scientific Director of TeraView, a company formed by spinning off the terahertz research arm of CRL. He became an honorary Professor of Pharmaceutical Science in the University of Otago, New Zealand in 2003. He left his Cambridge Chair to take up the Pender Chair of Nanoelectronics at University College London in 2009 and has been associated with many developments in Semiconductor Physics and applications of terahertz radiation.

Sir Michael has over his career been awarded numerous awards and honours amongst which are :- He is a Fellow of the Royal Society in and was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1982. In 1987 he received the Hughes Medal. Previously he had received the Europhysics Prize of the European Physical Society, and the Guthrie Prize of the Institute of Physics both in 1985. The Institute of Physics awarded Sir Michael the first Mott Prize in 2000. He had previously given the first Mott Lecture in 1985. H received the Royal Medal in 2005 for his "work in the creation of the modern field of semiconductor nanostructures," he gave the Royal Society's Bakerian Prize Lecture in 2004 and received his knighthood in the 2006 New Year's Honours list for services to physics. Most recently he has been awarded the 2013 Faraday Medal of the IET.

Fortunately, for at least one former pupil on the Arts side of the education system, Sir Michael did not elaborate on any of his academic work or career in physics and nano-technology but remembered his time at SMGS fondly. He spoke of his initial interview with Mr. Wayne asking him about his sports interests.and was even asked to demonstrate how to bowl off and leg breaks. He spoke of "Snapper" Snape's unique method of quashing any argument by sitting on the offending pupil, of Mr Blakeway inspiring his interest in history particularly that of the English Civil War and Tom Blackburn demonstrating how how to climb up the doorway without using hands - only feet and back and wriggling his way up, on one occasion being interrupted by Wayne himself. His memories of damp clothing at Forest Green and the illicit visits to "The Parrott" where both pupils and staff studiously avoided recognizing each other. However, perhaps his favourite memory was the superb teaching of Hugo Freudenberger, who clearly inspired him and helped forge a remarkable career in physics. He briefly summarized this career in a very modest way. He concluded his brief and humorous speech with the comment that "the boarding schools of the UK are full of pupils from emerging nations and these countries would be delighted for a Marylebone Grammar in their midst. Although the school has disappeared, the values which it represented are still present in the country and there are signs that they will return under different names such as academies, or maybe some free schools."

A full transcript of Sir Michael's speech can be viewed by clicking here

The evening concluded with the traditional Basil Waters Nightcap and a toast to his memory.



Annual Report

A copy of the Association's Annual Report that was presented at the Annual General Meeting in March can be viewed by clicking HERE