The Porter Wing

When the Theatre blew up in 1927, it offered the chance for a rebuild—leading to the creation of these rooms on the building’s eastern side.

In December 1927, after the physicist Edward Andrade had delivered his Christmas Lecture about engines, the daughter of Nobel Laureate Sir William Henry Bragg invited a handful of children up to her father’s rooms at the Royal Institution to enjoy some Christmas cake. A few hours later, the Lecture Theatre exploded owing to an electrical fault. By then, fortunately, the children had finished the cake and left.

However, the damage caused by the accident offered the chance for a major rebuild—not only of the Theatre but also of the suite of rooms in which the resident professors lived. These works were financed partly by leasing most of the building’s basement to the jewellers Cartier. The private rooms were expanded to include, in complementary style, the rooms that we now call The Porter Wing, because they served in the 1970s as home to the chemist Lord Porter and his family, not to mention their bulldog Spencer.

These younger rooms are used by our scientists and our Director of Development. The long balcony also serves as a nice spot for informal discussion and when possible catching some rays.