A Toast to Sir Alexander Fleming

A draft of this blogpost has been growing and fermenting since last September.  This week I scraped the mould off to reveal some interesting photos.

Back in September I was walking around London W2, taking photos for Bleeding London, when I spotted this plaque celebrating the discovery of penicillin by the Scottish scientist Sir Alexander Fleming.

W2 Praed Street Fleming crop

I guess most people know the story of this chance discovery.  Fleming was working with petri dishes of bacteria in his lab at St Mary’s Hospital in 1928 when he noticed penicillium mould growing on one dish.  Around the mould was a clear area where the growth of the bacteria had been halted.

That famous mould must have looked something like this.

Penicillium mould

This particular sample is on display at London’s Science Museum, which I visited last week.

By the way, the names “penicillin” and “penicillium” are derived from the Latin word for a fine brush, because of the brush-like shape of the penicillium fungus as seen under a microscope.

So why have I been thinking about Sir Alexander Fleming for four months? Because it feels like I can’t escape from him.  Not just in Praed Street and the Science Museum, but even in ordinary blocks of flats.

P1060209

These flats were officially opened by Sir Alexander himself.

Fleming Court sign

There’s even a pub named after him.  So now I can tell my readers where to raise a (non-mouldy) glass to toast Sir Alexander’s achievements.  Cheers!

W2 Bouverie Place

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew says:

    He’s a stalker! Fancy having a pub named after him. I hope they serve good food.

    Like

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      I haven’t tried it yet. I worry that it might have a pencillin-themed menu.

      Like

  2. linnetmoss says:

    A great bit of London history. I love those round plaques. Wondering if there is a book about them somewhere. My favorite is the Monty Python plaque in Neil’s Yard 🙂

    Like

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      That’s “Monty Python, filmmaker, lived here”. Yes, that’s a good one. I saw the Python live show in London last summer. A very entertaining evening. Michael Palin and Eric Idle were the stars of the show.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. linnetmoss says:

        Lucky you! I have always been fond of Michael Palin. The sweet one 🙂

        Like

  3. Once you focus something you see it all the time. Few months ago I was driving with my colleague through several little village to check on few bank branches. Well, somehow I was fixated on Greek restaurants. Suddenly I saw them in every tiny village, it was just crazy :p

    Like

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      Greek restaurants everywhere, that’s funny. And if the thing is close to home, then you wonder why you didn’t notice it before.

      Like

  4. What fun! I’m definitely in the ‘pub’ over ‘petri dish’ category! 🙂

    Like

    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      Me too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim in Fiji says:

    Everybody loves to celebrate and be associated with the famous and successful local boy. There was mildly famous author – Sidney Lanier – who settled near my hometown. There was not only a highway plaque identifying his home – but also the town library was “Lanier Library” and the nearby lake was “Lake Lanier” Imagine what WE would have done with Sir Andrew Fleming!

    Like

  6. Karolyn Cooper says:

    The folks of Lanier Land aren’t ambitious enough. Fleming memorials abound all over the place. I haven’t shown you all the London sites, and now I’ve discovered he has statues in Spain.

    Like

  7. Doing it. Thanks! Can’t help but imagine all the people obsessively washing their hands after reading that plaque, though…

    Like

    1. Oh. Are you ok with pinning? (Like the look by the way – think it’s a recent change but if it’s been aaaaaaages then feel free to shake your head and smile.)

      Like

      1. Karolyn Cooper says:

        I don’t understand pinning at all – but go ahead!

        Like

        1. Thanks! Might want to see the Fleming tour ourselves (at least the pint at the pub bit).

          Like

          1. Karolyn Cooper says:

            Good idea. There’s a museum somewhere around there, maybe part of St Mary’s hospital? but I haven’t been there yet.
            By the way, I spent a few days on Shetland about 20 years ago, and loved it. No dragons, but plenty of puffins and seals, and a couple of otters.

            Like

          2. See? Not the only one. Clearly I’ve been talking to a bunch of city slickers who get in a flap if they can’t find a shopping mall within five hundred meters of any given standing point.

            Like

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