Thursday, 11 December 2008

951 - The Whitley Bay Smoke Cell

This is the Welch sweet factory on Laburnum Avenue. A photo of it, circa 1925, can be found on the Tynetown website here.

I'd heard that John Welch was the father of Denise Welch, the actress, who attended Bygate School in Whitley Bay. So to check this out I started to look online for information about Welch's. And he wasn't her dad, though, assuming there has only ever been one sweet manufacturer called Welch in North Tyneside, his was a family firm.

And then, as I searched, I found a link to the Whitley Bay Smoke Cell, supplied by an American science firm called Sargent-Welch.

The catalogue invites you to "closely observe Brownian motion in smoke particles using this apparatus....A box with a plastic lid features flanges that allow easy attachment of a standard microscope".

I was intrigued. Why "Whitley Bay Smoke Cell"? I tried digging further.

Here is an experiment using the apparatus described in full. And here is Wikipedia's description of Brownian Motion.

But, online at least, amidst reams of school science catalogues, no mention of why the Whitley Bay Smoke Cell is called what it is. Any blogger out there care to do some digging and let me know, I'd be really grateful! One of you is a physicist, I know, and E, as this is my fiftieth post, you owe me that beer you promised!

[This post started off exploring 'Microtrends, Beats and Tipping Points". How a moment, captured in a photograph, spins into a story with lasting resonance. I've gone way off topic! I'll have to drag myself back tomorrow.]


hesketh said...

The whitley Bay smoke cell is so called because it was designed by the head of the Physics department at Whitley Bay Grammar school in the 1960s a Mr Leo O'Donnell.

Abigail Doherty said...

John Welch isn't Denise's Dad. However, he is her Grandad.

ian firmstone said...

there was a welchs sweet factory in north shields my grandfather was the caretaker - there is little information about it but I went school in whitley bay appletre gardens till i was 10