IC Reporter Special - The Queen's visit 28 October 1998

Special issue to commemorate
The Queen’s visit to Imperial College

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A ‘magnificent’ occasion

The Queen opened the £65 million Sir Alexander Fleming Building on Wednesday 21 October witnessed by around 750 guests.

Her Majesty The Queen meets second year medical undergraduates in a teaching laboratory in the School of Medicine. “It's very nice of you to use a ruler. It's very high tech,” The Queen commented, referring to apparatus used by the students to measure the limits of their visual acuity during a pharmacology practical. From left to right, the students are Katie Schwab, Simon Peake and Susannah Bloch.

Imperial College Road was lined with hundreds of spectators who saw Her Majesty’s arrival and departure.

After being welcomed by the chairman, Lord Vincent, The Queen met the rector, Sir Ron Oxburgh, who presented senior College staff, including Professor Chris Edwards, principal of the School of Medicine; Professor John Caldwell, head of the Biomedical Sciences Division and Professor Mike Hassell, head of the Department of Biology.

During a 10-minute walkabout through the ground floor foyer, The Queen met and chatted with many people, both guests and College students and staff, who had helped to make the Fleming Building a reality.

Second-year medical students in a multidisciplinary laboratory demonstrated a pharmacology experiment for the royal party, who then went on to meet Department of Biology researchers in the Level 6 immunology laboratory.

The Imperial Fanfare, composed specially for the occasion, heralded the start of the ceremony. After a welcoming speech by the rector, in which he paid tribute to Prince Albert’s far-sighted vision for Albertopolis, The Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque and the new Charter.

‘It’s a fantastic building’

Sir Denis Rooke, chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 - IC landlords - replied on behalf of the guests, saying: “Albertopolis is organic, with in-built life and vitality, and this Sir Alexander Fleming Building is the latest manifestation of that vitality.”

Her Majesty The Queen unveils the new College Charter and the commemorative plaque on Level 6 of the Sir Alexander Fleming Building.

Sir Alexander Fleming’s granddaughter, Sarah Whitlow, said: “It has all been quite an honour. It’s a fantastic building.”

Also attending the ceremony were Dr Dennis Dooley, one of Sir Alexander’s laboratory assistants, and his grandson Matthew Bennett, physics, third year.

Dr Dooley assisted Anne Barrett, College archivist, with the creation of a display of Fleming memorabilia.

A new illustrated history of the formation of the School of Medicine was launched at the event, providing an introduction to the long and distinguished histories of the member medical schools.

A limited edition commemorative programme was also presented to guests.

Building manager, Kevin Cope, who only started at Imperial in April, had the task of ensuring the building was ready for use at the beginning of term.

He said: “It has been quite a challenge but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It is an absolutely incredible building and an enormous amount of work has gone into it.”

As The Queen left the College, the Queen’s Tower peal of bells rang out. Her Majesty went on to unveil the restored Albert Memorial, amid fireworks and son-et-lumière celebrations.

To mark the opening, a four-page special ‘Focus’ report was published in the Times on 22 October. Articles included Imperial College: A network of campuses; Getting to the heart of a smart building; Putting a spin on funding; Collaboration in the labs gets results; Degrees in 21st-century healthcare; Video links the student doctors; The front line of birth research; and All mod cons for medics.

Reprints will be available at the beginning of November. Further details in issue 69 of IC Reporter.

The Queen’s speech

‘‘I have no doubt that the two people whose memory we honour today would warmly approve of this occasion. This new building which forms the heart of your magnificent new medical school, bears the name of Sir Alexander Fleming, and I am delighted that his son is here with us to witness the inauguration of a building of which his father would have been proud.

And Prince Albert would certainly view this coming together of science, engineering and medicine with enthusiasm, knowing that it is yet further proof that his great vision is still in the process of being realised.

I now name this building the Sir Alexander Fleming Building and have much pleasure in presenting the College with its new Charter.’’

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