"His happiest memories were spending holidays at his father’s university laboratories setting up equipment to his heart’s content."
Kit Milner was born in Sheffield, England, on 3 April, 1912. He was the only child of Winifred Esther Walker Milner and Samuel Roslington (Ross) Milner, Professor of Physics at Firth College of the University of London (later University of Sheffield). Both parents were highly academic and had met in 1894 as Physics students at Bristol College of the University of London (now Bristol University). They were active student leaders and helped open the College’s Social and Debating Society to both sexes, unusual for that era. In 1894-95 Winifred served as Vice-President and Ross as a Committee Member. By the next year, he was President and she his Vice-President!
Kit Milner’s father, Samuel Roslington Milner seated on the step, second from the left. Winifred Esther Walker (Kit’s mother) is seated on the step, second from right. Steps to the Physics Building, Bristol College, University of London, c1895.
Courtesy, Milner Family.
As a child, Kit was first educated at home and then boarded at Worksop College, Nottinghamshire – Kit always referred to it as ‘a minor English public school’. School was only tolerable because his science teacher, who held an M. Sc. from his father’s own Department, allowed him to correct outdated science texts and pursue his own experiments. His happiest memories were spending holidays at his father’s university laboratories setting up equipment to his heart’s content.
When studying at the Bristol College, University of London, Samuel Roslington (Ross) Milner and Winifred Esther Walker Milner held 1851 Exhibition Scholarships (established by Queen Victoria to support science). Kit Milner’s mother, Winifred, came from a family with 2 generations of teaching in Wales and Bristol and took her BSc in 1898. His father, Ross, a theoretical physicist who studied for his DSc in Germany with Walther Nernst (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1920), became a long serving Professor of Physics at Sheffield University from 1917- 1940. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1922 and today is best known for the Debye-Milner Plasma Theory..
His students dubbed him ‘Tiger’ for his stern looks and complete lack of ferocity, Family anecdote
Courtesy, Milner family
Winifred Walker (Kit’s mother) seated on the left. Physics Dept, Bristol College, University of London, c1895.
Courtesy, Milner family.
SR Milner (in the front row, centre with arms crossed), Professor of Physics, University of Sheffield, 1930.
Courtesy, Milner family.
Early Science Exhibition & Kit Milner
This exhibit extends to only some of the highlights that offer an insight into the many dimensions of this remarkable man’s life and attempts to portray something of their inseparability. He was passionate about many things including his science, his family and his faith; and this, added to his impish sense of humour and inquisitiveness, set him apart from many others
The exhibit covers details of his: