Councillor Jeff Watson at the Humphry Davy exhibition at County HAll

World-changing scientist and inventor's notebooks goes on show

A scientist and chemist whose inventions revolutionised life for generations to come is being celebrated in an exhibition of items stored by Northumberland County Council’s Archive.

Probably best know for his invention of ‘the Davy Lamp,’ a safety lamp used by coal miners, Sir Humphry Davy also discovered several chemical elements, including sodium, calcium magnesium and boron.

His work in many fields was of global significance. He was one of the first to use electrolysis, is also responsible for one of the first arc lights – and the creation of ‘laughing gas’ which he named himself.

His links to the North East and Northumberland area came with his work on the Davy Safety Lamp. He was approached by The Society for The Prevention of Accidents in Coal Mines after the Felling Colliery Disaster in 1812 that killed 92 men and boys.

A giant Davy Lamp stands outside of the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, in recognition of local mining heritage and the importance of Davy's safety lamp to the mining industry.

Councillor Jeff Watson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage and Libraries, said: “I, for one, can’t wait to visit the exhibition.

“As a miner’s son myself I knew of the Davy Lamp and what it meant to British miners and their safety, I was unaware of the other truly ground-breaking work Davy was responsible for.

“The number of scientists with such a vast catalogue of innovation, invention and imagination must be very small indeed. He was a character as well as a scholar and one of our most significant intellects.”

Considered a genius, he was awarded a baronetcy in 1818, the first time such an honour had been bestowed on a scientist. And, since 1877, the Royal Society of London has awarded the Davy Medal for “outstandingly important recent discovery in chemistry”.

The exhibition of notebooks belonging to Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) will be on display at County Hall, Morpeth, until January 12, 2024

*This Wednesday (Nov 15) Dr Andrew Lacey from Lancaster University will give a talk about Sir Humphry at County Hall at 11am. The talk is free, and no booking is necessary.

Also a poet of note Northumberland Libraries will host a Poetry Reading Workshop at Morpeth Library with Prof Sharon Ruston on Thursday, January 11 from 2-4pm when some of Davy’s poetry will be read and discussed. Book on Eventbrite: at Morpeth Library - 01670 620391

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