Plaque unveiled to honour chemistry pioneer Sir Edward Frankland


The University of Manchester has unveiled a prestigious plaque awarded by the American Chemical Society, to celebrate the legacy of Manchester pioneer Sir Edward Frankland.

Sir Edward published his seminal work in 1852 which established the theory of chemical valence, now recognised as a cornerstone of our understanding of chemistry. He is also widely credited as one of the originators of organometallic chemistry - compounds with metal-carbon bonds.

The University’s School of Chemistry hosted an event to commemorate these milestone achievements, which featured talks by leading experts Professor Bill Evans, from University of California, Irvine; Professor Philip Power, University of California, Davis; and Professor Igor Larrosa, plus Dr Mike Ingleson and Dr Vanesa Marcos from The University of Manchester.

The lecture programme was rounded off by a talk from Dr Robert Anderson from the Chemical Heritage Foundation, which gave a flavour of the life of Sir Edward.

The event was attended by several of Sir Edward’s descendants - including his great-great-great-grandchild Miriam O’Hanlon - who concluded the occasion by unveiling the commemorative plaque.

The plaque will be permanently displayed in the foyer of The School of Chemistry, adjacent to an earlier plaque bequeathed by the American Chemical Society that recognises seminal work on radioactivity accomplished by another Manchester pioneer, Nobel Laureate Sir Ernest Rutherford.


“We are very grateful to the American Chemical Society for this award. The quality and breath of the science that was presented is a testament to the profound legacy that Sir Edward created with his theory of chemical valence.”
Professor Steve Liddle, Head of Inorganic Chemistry and organiser of the event

“The University of Manchester has a proud heritage where this area is concerned, and in addition to the work of Frankland and Rutherford it has close ties to atomic structure and bonding luminaries John Dalton, Joseph Thompson, and James Chadwick.”

Professor Richard Winpenny, Head of the School of Chemistry, added: “Between them, Frankland, Rutherford, Dalton, Thompson, and Chadwick discovered the proton, neutron, electron, atomic structure theory and the concept of chemical valence, so the atom is very much a Mancunian.”

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