Sir John Cockcroft OM KCB CBE FRS
(1897-1967)

Died aged c. 70

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, OM, KCB, CBE, FRS (27 May 1897 – 18 September 1967) was a British physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for splitting the atomic nucleus with Ernest Walton, and was instrumental in the development of nuclear power. After service on the Western Front with the Royal Field Artillery during the Great War, Cockcroft studied electrical engineering at Manchester Municipal College of Technology. He then won a scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge, where sat the tripos exam in June 1924, becoming a wrangler. Ernest Rutherford accepted Cockcroft as a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory, and Cockcroft completed his doctorate under Rutherford's supervision in 1928. With Ernest Walton and Mark Oliphant he built what became known as a Cockcroft–Walton accelerator. Cockcroft and Walton used this to perform the first artificial disintegration of an atomic nucleus, a feat popularly known as splitting the atom. During the Second World War Cockcroft became Assistant Director of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Supply, working on radar. He was also a member of the committee formed to handle issues arising from the Frisch–Peierls memorandum, which calculated that an atomic bomb could be technically feasible, and of the MAUD Committee which succeeded it. In 1940, as part of the Tizard Mission, he shared British technology with his counterparts in the United States. Later in the war, the fruits of the Tizard Mission came back to Britain in the form of the SCR-584 radar set and the proximity fuze, which were used to defeat the V-1 flying bomb. In May 1944, he became director of the Montreal Laboratory, and oversaw the development of the ZEEP and NRX reactors, and the creation of the Chalk River Laboratories. After the war Cockcroft became the director of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) at Harwell, where the low-powered, graphite-moderated GLEEP became the first nuclear reactor to operate in western Europe when it was started on 15 August 1947. This was followed by BEPO in 1948. Harwell was involved in the design of reactors at Windscale, and the chemical separation plant there. AERE under his direction took part in frontier fusion research, including the ZETA program. His insistence that the chimney stacks of the Windscale reactors be fitted with filters was mocked as Cockcroft's Folly until the core of one of the reactors ignited and released radionuclides during the Windscale fire of 1957. From 1959 to 1967, he was the first Master of Churchill College, Cambridge. He was also chancellor of the Australian National University in Canberra from 1961 to 1965.

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Commemorated on 2 plaques

In the 1940s Chief Superintendent of ADRDE Sir John Cockcroft CBE OM KCB lived and held meetings here. With Ernest Walton he shared the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on particle accelerators.

Green Bank House, Bank Street, Malvern, United Kingdom where they was

Sir John Cockcroft OM KCB CBE FRS 1887-1967 scientist, administrator, pioneer in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear power. In 1932, with Dr E. T. S. Walton, he was the first man to split the atom by artificial means. Joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951. Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Todmorden

Birks Lane, Walsden, United Kingdom where they lived