In 1893 the Department of Anatomy was established in the building we now call the Le Gros Clark Building (LGC), and this month DPAG moves out of the building forever.
When it was built, the LGC had a dissecting room, a prosecting room, a museum, a lecture theatre, a vestibule and two private rooms. In 1934, W.E. Le Gros Clark accepted an invitation to fill the chair of Dr Lee’s Professorship in Anatomy, a position which he held until his retirement. That same year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work on primate evolution. To recognise the profound influence Le Gros Clark had on the teaching of anatomy at Oxford the building was re-named in his honour.
What a long and eventful history the Le Gros Clark building has had, playing a central role in the development and changing face of our department over the years as it evolved into the dynamic department we see today. Thousands of students have passed through in that time, and members of staff here have sometimes spent years working in the LGC. We asked Dave Greenwood and Colin Beesley, very long-standing members of the DPAG team and the last people to leave the building, for their memories of LGC.
Colin Beesley says, ‘I remember the building always being busy especially when Kay Davies was Head of Department. There were so many people they had to restrict desk space and all the desks became numbered. Parts of the department stairways were like a maze - they would take you to floors and rooms that you didn’t know existed. The “canteen” as it was called then was run by the department and all profits were used for events. When I first started working for the department there was the “canteen lady” who you didn’t want to argue with especially over the size of a piece of cake. That said if you kept her happy, the proportions increased!
Before the Medical Teaching Centre existed the Le Gros Clark was also the building where medical students came for lectures and classes, including dissection. One of the most memorable lectures that took place there was the 100-year centenary department lecture given in 1993 by Savile Bradbury.'
David Greenwood spent 20 years of his career in the LGC and as Building Manager he has been overseeing the gradual ‘move out’ process which is now coming to a close.
He says, ‘It’s been a roller coaster ride for me over the twenty years in LGC, from a bustling, busy, full building with a never-ending list of things to do, problems to solve and help with, to the spooky situation of managing the building through COVID, and now finally ending my time with management of the decant of the building, something I would have never dreamt of when I started on that hot sunny day on August 2003. I have been invited back to take a look once the refurbishment has been completed. When I started in 2003 the canteen was always the place to go for lunch or cup of tea, meet up with colleagues and get introduced to new staff - it made the building a happy place to work. We had several changes with staff but it still kept its character. Sadly, the university finally decided it was no longer viable and it was closed, a sad day for the staff in LGC.
Recently I had to show two visitors around LGC as their aunt had studied under Le Gros Clark, (I also took them over to Sherrington to show them the bust of him). They were so thrilled with the tour and I must say it was very emotional for me, to see how happy and tearful they were to have had the chance to see the building and its history.’
No doubt many of our alumni and current and former members of staff have their own happy memories of their time in the LGC, so the final move marks the end of a fruitful chapter in our DPAG history.
Colin Beesley and Dave Greenwood, having provided many years of exceptional service to the researchers in LGC, are now settling into life in Sherrington. We have a smart new Reprographics facility behind Reception, where Colin can be found, and he can help you with your printing needs. Dave is a manager in the Facilities team, responsible for departmental security and many of the department’s core services like Stores and Goods In, and he is Building Manager for CCMN.
If you’re interested in the history of the Department and medical sciences at Oxford, please have a look at our history pages. Our History — Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) (ox.ac.uk)