Today marks the 246th birthday of William Smith, the ‘father of English geology’. While the Museum has been marking this important day for a number of years, 2015 also happens to be a particularly special year for this remarkable man.
William Smith is perhaps most famous for publishing the first geological map of England and Wales in 1815, making this the bicentenary of the incredible feat.
Though Smith single-handledly mapped the geology of the country, and created a map that would change the way we understood the world beneath our feet, too few people know his name and what he achieved.
To celebrate the bicentenary, and also in the hope that Smith will become a wider-known figure in the history of science, a number of organisations across the world, including us here at the Museum of Natural History, will be holding events during the year.
This weekend marked the official kick-off of events with the opening of the Churchill Heritage Centre special exhibition, curated by the Museum and displayed in the heart of Smith’s home town. A plaque to mark the place where he was born in 1769 was also unveiled, which you can see in the photo at the top of this post.
The plaque, sponsored by the Curry Fund was unveiled by Professor Hugh Torrens, the leading expert on William Smith. A large crowd gathered for the event, with a mix of local people proud of their connection to one of their most famous residents, as well as a familiar group of Smith academics, experts and enthusiasts.
The exhibition, which is open weekends and bank holidays, will run until the end of September.
It includes well known publications from the William Smith archive here at the Museum of Natural History such as his geological map of Oxfordshire. Rarely seen items such as letters between himself and his niece, an excerpt from his diaries and the marriage deed of his grandparents will also be on display.
The William Smith archive can be found at www.williamsmithonline.com.
Kate Santry, Head of Archives and Library