The Bedson Building

(c) Newcastle University; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Bedson building, named after Professor Peter Bedson (1853-1943) Head of Chemistry, was built to house the growing number of students and researchers studying Chemistry at King’s College.  

The construction of the Bedson building was due to begin in 1939 however the outbreak of the Second World War saw plans grind to a sudden halt. Whilst the College did not have to give up its premises during this time, a considerable amount of research was carried out by the Chemistry Department towards the war effort.  

Permission to begin work on the new building was finally granted in 1946 and two new Chemistry Department wings were opened on 10th December 1949. These new additions were five storeys high to accommodate the further rise in student intake, over treble what it had been ten years earlier.  

Outside view of Bedson Building 1954, NUA/003573/14, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Further additions to the building were made in 1959 and included: a 300-seat Chemistry Lecture Theatre, laboratories and corridors with a floor finish in ‘Rhodesian teak wood block chosen for its rich appearance, durability and acid-resisting quality’. These were officially opened by H.R.H. Princess Margaret on 30th April 1959. 

Laboratory in Bedson Building 1954, NUA/003573/8,  Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The refurbished Chemistry Department became home to many outstanding and pioneering chemists. Radiation chambers were later built specifically for Joseph Joshua Weiss, Professor of Radiation Chemistry from 1956, to continue his work on high energy radiation, and he went on to receive the Marie Cure Medal of the Curie Institute in 1970. Martin Fleischmann, perhaps best known for his controversial research into cold fusion, began his teaching career in electrochemistry at King’s College in 1950 and remained until 1967. Furthermore, James Baddiley, Professor of Organic Chemistry from 1954 to 1977, was awarded the Davy Medal in 1974 for ‘distinguished research on coenzyme A and studies of the constituents of bacterial cell walls’, and then knighted in 1977. 

Visit CollectionsCaptured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the university archives.


Art UK (no date) Professor Peter Phillips Bedson. Available at:

McCord, Norman (2006) Newcastle University Past, Present and Future. Newcastle: Third Millennium Publishing. 

Newcastle University (2018) Our History. Available at:

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

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