Science and Innovation at Marlborough

The Beko Innovation Centre opened its doors to pupils and staff in the Summer Term of 2021 and has been a space to inspire pupils to push their academic boundaries ever since. The building is set adjacent to the trout ponds and River Kennett, with a clever environmental design employing a thermally efficient envelope, photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation and reduced water consumption. As well as being a key asset to College pupils, is a home for collaborations with partner schools, educational institutions and industry.

One of Marlborough’s earliest and most ingenious innovators is Charles Vernon Boys (C1 1869-72). Charles was born in the village of Wing in 1855 before coming to the College in 1869. While at Marlborough, he excelled in Maths and Science, later going on to dedicate his most enduringly popular book, Soap Bubbles and the Forces, to GF Rodwell (CR 1871-83).

During the 1880s, Charles developed expertise in the mechanical calculation, which resulted in his invention of an integrating machine (1881) embodying the principles of calculus. In 1889, Charles went on to create a radiomicrometer which gave rise to a significant development in his career and in science.

From 1890, Charles set about improving on Cavendish’s measurement of the gravitational constant (G). The accuracy of G determines the accuracy of the measurement of the density of the earth and thus his refinement of this constant, published in 1894, is considered to be his greatest achievement and contribution to scientific knowledge.

Later in his career, Charles promoted science education through lectures and books. He received many awards and honours throughout his life for his contributions to science.


Charles remained connected to the College throughout his life and was President of the Marlburian Club in 1913. In 1930, he had his Royal Society and Rumfold medals melted down and donated the gold to the College to fund the Boys Science Prize. He was later awarded a Knighthood in 1935.

Charles died on 30th March 1944 aged 89 having had a profound impact on society and a distinguished career.

You can read more about Charles Boys in the 2021 edition of the Club Magazine.