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Leonard Lovelock: 1940s Chemistry Alumnus

1 August 2018

Leonard Lovelock was awarded a BSc in Chemistry in 1940 and at 100 years old, is our oldest alumnus.

Leonard Lovelock

Leonard was evacuated from London during the Second World War, so never had the opportunity to attend his graduation ceremony. In the summer of 2018, the UCL Alumni team arranged for him to receive his degree wearing full graduation robes. We had a chat to Leonard to find out about his time at UCL and how it felt to come back to the Chemistry department after almost 80 years.

How does it feel being back at UCL?
It feels really brilliant to be back,

When was the last time you were here?
I haven’t been back to UCL since I was a student. In fact I don’t think I ever came back after the war started.

What was life like here when you were a student?
Life as a student at UCL was quite formal. We did theoretical chemistry in the morning and then we had practical science in the afternoon. In the practical classes it was good because we had the chance to make friends because you were working with one another. 

Did you do any extracurricular activities?
I used to play hockey and I also joined the choral society. We did a concert once a year in the Great Hall and that was very enjoyable.

What stays with you from your time at UCL?
It was the learning process really and what went on in the lecture hall. 

What were the teaching labs like?
It was completely different to how it is now. What you had to do in those days was to buy your own equipment. If you broke anything, of course, you had to go and replace it yourself. 

Do you remember Henry Terry (former lecturer)?
Oddly enough, everybody in the department in those days had a Doctorate and all sorts of things but Henry just had a BSc, and yet he was the principal lecturer in Organic Chemistry. He was a very quiet man, but I can always remember he had an office at the end of the laboratory. There were always people coming in from the industry to take advice from him. 

Do you have any advice for your fellow alumni?
My advice would be to keep in touch after you graduate.