Biography | Milestones | DVD/Books | Birthplace | Other Places | Awards | Honouring Ern | Bibliography | Miscellaneous | Site Map

Front Page

Rutherford Mythology
Rutherford Paintings
Rutherford Sketches
Rutherford Busts
Rutherford Photographs
Rutherford Quotations

- Göttingen Records
- Wheelwright Sign
- Coat of Arms
- Painting Flax Mill
- Painting Whanganui River
- George's Diary
- Water Descaler

Rutherford Houses


   Göttingen Records 1931

   In 1931 Rutherford was invited to Göttingen as part of the celebrations marking the bi-centennial of the Royal Society of Göttingen, of which he was a foreign member. The Universitat Göttingen gave him an honorary PhD and he delivered a lecture on Monday the 14th of December. 700 people arrived but the lecture room could hold only 400. Professor Pohl recorded this lecture on nine, small, thin, floppy, celluloid discs. He gave Rutherford one as a souvenir. The meeting was chaired by Max Born who introduces Rutherford.

Hear Rutherford's Voice   (Speaking in English.  0 min 35 sec, 70KB, MP3)
Hear Rutherford's Voice   (A simple man.            1 min 18 sec, 80KB, MP3)
Hear Rutherford's Voice   (Question time.           0 min 17 sec, 34KB, MP3)

   This lecture was given just a few months before people working under Rutherford's direction made major announcements. Cockcroft and Walton, after being given a bit of a rev-up by Rutherford to get on with it, first used their particle accelerator to split an atom by entirely artificial means, and Chadwick announced the discovery of the neutron. Just over two years after this talk Rutherford and Oliphant announced the discovery of tritium (hydrogen-3) and helium-3.

   After Ruthereford died in 1937, Lady Rutherford asked Mark Oliphant to sort out his papers. Mark found the soft disc. He wrote to Professor Pohl and retrieved all the discs except number 3,  which Telefunken had transferred to a large disc and thereby held the copyright for it. The father of David Schoenberg, a Cavendish student, was Research Director for EMI so arranged for The Gramophone Company to convert the other 8 discs into 74 rpm 12 inch discs under the His Master's Voice label. These were held in 9-sleeve albums, for sale by the Cavendish Laboratory for 10 shillings. Disc number 3 had to be purchased   separately from Telefunken. Few buyers seemed to have done so.

   Mark Oliphant gifted his collection of records to the Australian National Film and Sound Archives in Canberra. In 1998 they deaccessioned recordings of non-Australians so offered the set back to the Oliphant family. They requested it be gifted to me as I would ensure they were placed in a national repository in New Zealand.

   There are currently some 30 known sets of the records, only 8 of which contain the Telefunken record. Let me know of the whereabouts of any other sets.

Record 1 2EA 5746 Introduction of Lord Rutherford - PhD Honoris Causa.
Record 2 2EA 6541 Introductory remarks.
Record 3 T6077       Ansprache des Lord Rutherford
Record 4 2EA 5734 Beta-ray spectra compared with gamma-rays.
Record 5 2EA 5735 Long-range alpha-particles.
Record 6 2EA 5733 Connection of gamma-rays with long range alpha-particles.
Record 7 2EA 5737 Fine structure of alpha-ray groups.
Record 8 2EA 5736 Structure of nucleus, alpha-particles in nucleus.
Record 9 2EA 5732 Discussion.

Ronald Smeltzer reported his investigations into these records in ARSC Journal 28 174-187 1997.

Location of Full Sets - original recipient

Cambridge University Library - Henry Tizard
University of Canterbury - Clinton Coleridge Farr
University of Nottingham - L F Bates
Australian Academy of Sciences - Fred White
Cockcroft family - John Cockcroft
Private Collection (Australia) - Leslie Martin
Queen's University Belfast - K. G. Emeleus
(One is being processed.)

back to top

   Wheelwright Sign c1880

   This sign was used by James Rutherford to advertise his wheelwright business at Foxhill 1877-1881.

J Rutherford

   The large sign, 2.8m wide and 0.45m high, hung at his farmhouse/business opposite the original Foxhill school (now called the Rutherford Community Hall).

   I first saw it in 1981 (17/2/81, NB6/26) where it was used as the lid to a nail trough in the old Foxhill Store, by then a private house. I mentioned to the owner that should he ever be quitting the sign to contact the Nelson Museum. He said he wouldn't be parting with it as one day it would be worth something. As the owner treasured it, and the sign was facing downwards, I had no fears for its immediate safety.

   Over the years I visted twice more. On the first occasion the new owner had removed the nail trough lid and now had it mounted sign uppermost as a shelf/workbench. I immediately reported this in person to the then (new?) director of the Nelson Museum and asked if the museum would accept the sign if gifted. He stated that the council had the museum (then out at Isel House) under an embargo from accepting any new donations, due to space considerations.

   On my final visit in 1999 the owner was using it to work on dirty engines so it was now badly stained with oil and grease etc. I again immediately approached the (new?) museum director with the same result. So I offered the owner $80 to replace the bench provided I could have the old one, which he accepted. It cost $45 to freight to my home in Christchurch, where it was stored in my garage. When I had finally to clear out the house for minor repairs following the 2012 earthquake, I again offered it to the Nelson Provincial Museum which finally accepted it on 19/5/16, (reimbursing the Rutherford Biography Fund $100).

  Parchment - Rutherford Coat of Arms

   Sir Ernest Rutherford was raised to the peerage (Ernest Lord Rutherford) in the New Year list for 1931.

   The Royal College of Arms states:- “a grant of Arms, Crest and Supporters was made to Sir Ernest Rutherford, now Baron Rutherford of Nelson, of Cambridge, co. Cambridge, by Letters Patent dated 14 October 1931.”

   Rutherford was involved with suggestions for the design. No record exists but I assume the quartering of the shield with the decay and growth curves of radioactivity was his suggestion, as was also the motto “primordia quaerere rerum” taken from Lucretius' “On the Nature of the Universe” - “ To seek the first principles of things”. (Together with mathematics, Latin was a compulsory subject for Rutherford’s B.A. from Canterbury College.) Other elements may just be standard elements chosen by the Herald of Arms: Rutherford elements (the legless martlets on the shield from the Rutherford family crest, his Order of Merit medal), New Zealand elements (the Kiwi and the Maori warrior), education elements (the left supporter is Hermes Trismegistus, not only the patron saint of knowledge but also of alchemy. Rutherford was the world’s first successful alchemist, he changed nitrogen into hydrogen.)

   The New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED) built a national headquarters in Wellington in 1973, naming it Rutherford House. They later commissioned Conrad Swan, the York Herald of Arms, to paint a Rutherford Coat of Arms which he signed off on 5 May 1982. The painting is on vellum 276mm wide by 378mm high, with gold paint. From my decades of liaison with the Rutherford family and things Rutherford worldwide this is the only Rutherford Coat of Arms commissioned to date. (Miniatures exist on the original baronial warrants, one held by the College of Arms and one held by the Rutherford family, the latter found in a bank vault in 2019 after the death of a granddaughter, much to the surprise of myself and the whole remaining Rutherford family. Its existence had never been mentioned to me during the four decades I had been in contact with the family.)

   In 1987 the government corporatised NZED into a State Owned Enterprise, the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ or Electricorp). I first saw the painting when approaching ECNZ to be one of the Principal Patrons of the Rutherford Birthplace Project. It hung outside the CEO’s office together with an oil painting of Rutherford which had been given to ECNZ by the Rutherford family in New Zealand. ECNZ didn't end up supporting the project because they were about to be corporatised out of existence. (Probably not helped by me having to point out that their “oil painting of Rutherford” was from a dodgy branch and was actually a printed frontispiece painting of the author torn out of a botany book written by the curator of the Otago Museum.)

   When ECNZ was broken up and evacuated Rutherford House (the last day if I recall correctly), I visited them to obtain the “oil painting of Rutherford” but they had disposed of it. (Pity, as it would otherwise have finished in the Mythology section of my Rutherford website.) However, they gave me the Coat of Arms to support my Rutherford work.

  Painting - Pungarehu Flax Mill

   Ernest Rutherford

  Painting - Whanganui River

   Ernest Rutherford

Biography | Milestones | DVD/Books | Birthplace | Other Places | Awards | HonouringErn | Bibliography | Miscellaneous | Site Map

Website maintained by John Campbell, author of Rutherford Scientist Supreme. john.campbell [at)
© John Campbell
Site design and development by Webcentre Ltd