King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Student days

First World War, 1914-1918

Munitions classes at South-Western Polytechnic, c1915 (Ref: C/PC3)Munitions classes at South-Western Polytechnic, c1915 (Ref: C/PC3)In June 1915, the call for munitions workers began and the College's expertise in the provision of technical education was immediately utilised when the Engineering Department began offering training in general machine practice.

By March 1916 the department had trained 162 men. Workshops at the Institute were also used for the manufacture of gauges under the Metropolitan Munitions Committee, and an advanced course for gauge makers was established. Meanwhile carpentry rooms were utilised by the Surgical Requisites Association for the production of splints and other surgical fittings. The Department of Domestic Science provided classes in food economy and nursing, and circulated guidance on rations within the local community.

Research staff at the Institute were also heavily engaged in war work, with both the physics and chemistry departments involved in tests to develop a substitute for petrol, due to national shortages. A new form of rotary engine was also submitted for testing, and the entire staff and many senior students of the Chemistry department devoted their spare time to the preparation of anaesthetics such as novocaine and beta-eucaine, in association with the Chemical Committee of the Royal Society.

In 1914, part of the Institute at Manresa Road was requisitioned by a Sanitary Division of the Royal Army Medical Corps, whose personnel took the opportunity to attend lectures at the Institute in Hygiene and Bacteriology.

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