Uppermill-born scientist and his work to be recognised with plaque at Museum

A CAMPAIGN to recognise the ground-breaking work of an Uppermill-born physicist is nearing a successful conclusion.

A permanent reminder of the pioneering achievements of Albert Beaumont (AB) Wood is due to go on display at Saddleworth Museum later in June.

But since Saddleworth Parish Council agreed last February to erect a blue plaque to celebrate the brilliant scientist from Pickhill, a surprise discovery has led to a different outcome to the story.

After reading of proposals to honour a man whose pioneering work helped saved countless lives during two World Wars, staff remembered a tribute had previously been displayed at Saddleworth School.

Peter with Cllr Max Woodvine

They have now agreed to donate it for viewing by the wider community.

On June 16, outgoing head boy and head girl, Jack Sinfield and Bella Cook, will officially help unveil the plaque.

The importance of Wood’s lifetime achievements, including a personal plea for help from Sir Winston Churchill, have gone largely undetected outside his sphere of expertise.

Born in 1894, AB Wood OBE, DSc, who attended Huddersfield College of Technology, was involved in naval science and underwater acoustics for half a century.

Initially working alongside Sir Ernest Rutherford – the man credited with ‘splitting the atom’ – he was recruited by the Admiralty in 1915 as one of two research physicists with a brief to work on antisubmarine defence.

Wood, who graduated from Manchester University almost 100 years ago, helped develop the prototype underwater sound detection ASDIC system. It is probably better known by American name, sonar.

Albert Wood

At the outbreak of WW II, he turned his talents to inventing counter measures to the German use of magnetic mines.

Keen historian and Saddleworth resident Roy Crozier is the man behind the campaign to recognise Wood’s work.

“Churchill said the only thing that scared him was the U Boat peril,” he explained when lobbying for blue plaque recognition.

“The UK was importing vast quantities of food and if we didn’t keep shipping lanes open we would be starved out of the war.

“The first scientific problem of the Second World War were magnetic mines the Germans again used to disrupt food supplies and raw materials.

“Churchill asked Wood personally to come and see him to discuss possible counter measures. AB is also the pioneer of British magnetic mines technology.”

The first German mine was recovered in November 1939 and Wood was described as having “great personal courage” in dealing with it.

Wood died suddenly while on holiday in July 1964. A year after his death eminent former colleagues decreed to launch the AB Wood Memorial Fund

Wood is so highly thought of among academics that a medal named in his honour is awarded in alternate years to acousticians based in the UK/Europe and in the USA/Canada.

It is aimed at younger researchers, usually aged under 40, whose work is associated with the sea.

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