Rumour has it Davy was once buried under the Queen’s Lawn
Mitch the Michelin Man (1958), Davy I (1965)
Davy II (1975) is a three-foot high, 132lb (60kg) brass and aluminium mining lamp. Similar lamps were once used in mines to detect dangerous gases because the flame does not burn without oxygen.
Royal School of Mines
Shiny Davy, New Davy
Details and dimensions:
Davy is a hefty 60kg mining lamp
The first mascot was a Michelin man acquired in February 1958 under sub-committee chairman Alan Lewis. The exact acquisition is largely unknown except that it was “purloined by a free spirit from its former place of honour atop the cab of a lorry dedicated to serving Michelin customers.”
Purloined, people, purloined.
The individual hoops of Michelin man’s jovial body were subsequently painted alternately in the white, yellow and black colours of the RSM and presented to committee.
Reported by Felix on 18 January 1958:
This meeting was unique in the history of the Mines Union in that the President of Bedford College, Miss Marilyn Farr, the Vice-President, and sundry other members of this illustrious college were present. After making a short speech, addressing the meeting by “Mr President, Gentlemen and Lover Boy in the corner…’ Miss Farr christened Mitch, as the mascot is to be called, by pouring a pint of bitter over his head.
Yep. ‘Lover Boy’ Mitch. The next day happened to be St Valentine’s Day and Mitch was presented with his first valentine, and with his first birthday present. Some Miners are still mystified by the significance, or otherwise, of the cabbage, brush, and lemon presented.
Mitch’s name was appropriate to his origin but also relevant to the good name of the Dean of the RSM and Professor of Mining, Professor J.C. Micheson. The Professor, also known informally as Mitch, was a consummate gentleman with a highly ascetic disposition, and was (not unjustifiably as a result) spoken of as ‘the orange juice Dean’.
Mitch rode with RSM on the original Clementine, a traction engine, for several years.
In 1965 Royal School of Mines voted to discard Mitch because he had little popular appeal, and worse, a Michelin Man was also the mascot of the National College of Rubber Technology [now London Metropolitan Polymer Centre].
Students on committee suggested a sea mine as a replacement – despite great impracticality and safety concerns. The matter went as far as to receive response from First Lord of the Admiralty, stating he had passed the matter to the Chief of Armaments.
An alternative was presented 18 May: an incredibly heavy, three-foot high model of one of the earliest Davy lamps, designed by Fergus Kerr and built by Bert West of the Metallurgy Department. He too was painted black and yellow. Name suggestions were posted to “R. Gash via the letter racks; a small reward is offered”.
The student who named Davy is lost to the sands of time. Will an alumnus from this time period come forward with evidence of who named Davy?
No sooner had Davy been birthed and named than he was stolen in 1965. “We also stole RSM’s Davey lamp and filled it with cement and epoxied all the connections before we returned it,” admitted Ralph Cornforth (Physics 1965).
Fights to capture and retrieve Davy are legendary. One disruptive battle lasted uninterrupted for hours prior to the anticipated campus visit of Viscount Falmouth. There was so much mess that Mines had to hire an emergency crew to work the night to be presentable the next day.
In one episode of Davy-chasing,
“Two RCS men spent 18 months tracking down where he was stored in RSM by hiding in cupboards after RSM UGMs and listening out for the Davey Bearers going by.
Eventually they narrowed down the location of the mascot to one particular storeroom in the basement and hid behind a filing cabinet just outside as Davey was put away. Later that night they returned with hacksaws, hammers, drills and boltcutters, picked the lock to the room and demolished the only cupboard therein which was Davey’s hideyhole.”
A second Davy was built of anodised aluminium and brass to be lighter weight and more decorative. He is referred to as MkII, New Davy and, frequently, Shiny Davy. Initially, RSM used Old Davy as a decoy to deceive potential thieves by carrying both into and out in bin liners.
But, the plan backfired.
In the mid-eighties Old Davy went missing from the Mines office where it had been used as a doorstop. Old Davy was briefly recovered in the Physics level 1 common room behind a wood panel, but disappeared and has never been seen since.
It is believed that Old Davy may have been in the room of another Imperial student at the end of an academic year. RSM has voiced fears that the 60kg mascot may have been thrown away by cleaners during the end-of-year rush to get Imperial’s halls of residence ready for summer visitors.
No other mascot has been referred to as ‘Lover Boy’ on record.
- Felix, 1994, 1,000th issue
- Felix, 2 June 1965
- Imperial Interview with Jim Platt (Mining Geology 1957–60)
- Felix: 13 January 1989
- Felix: 9 May 1975
- Wikipedia, Naval Mine
Is it true that if you rub Davy a genie appears? Comment here.
Mining Geology 1957 – 1960
Alumnus Number 90086637
I started as a student in the Mining Geology department of the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, in the early autumn of 1957.
Since I had boxed in church club competitions in North Cornwall with a certain amount of success (or of the notoriety which in boxing goes hand in hand with success) I was a natural to enter the Boxing Club. I boxed for no better reason than because I could, but never took the “sport” at all seriously. Anyone who is unafraid and prepared to take a punch can make a go of it at boxing.
My boxing profile (or lack of the same) had a significant consequence in that it gained me the position by selection of being the first Guardian or Keeper of a new RSM Mascot. My responsibilities involved carrying the Mascot during its outings for demonstrations, rag days and so on and of being charged with defending it at all costs should any chancers from Guilds or RCS make a breakthrough intent on stealing it.
The Mascot was a Michelin man, purloined by a free spirit from its former place of honour atop the cab of a lorry dedicated to serving Michelin customers. The individual hoops of its jovial body were subsequently painted alternately in the white, yellow and black colours of the RSM. His given name was “Mitch”, appropriate to his origin of course, but also relevant to the good name of the Dean of the RSM and Professor of Mining, Prof. J.C. Micheson. The Prof., also known affectionately as Mitch, was a consummate gentleman with a highly ascetic disposition, and was (not unjustifiably as a result) spoken of as “the orange juice Dean”.
Not long after the arrival of Mitch the Mascot it was decided with an element of great spontaneity after an RSM Union meeting that Mitch was to be carried along the RSM first floor and through into the adjoining Guilds building and then onwards to make an exit through the Guilds entry on Exhibition Road.
We charged into Guilds in a grand phalanx. I was at the invading party’s centre holding Mitch. Our expectation was that we would race through Guilds and out before anyone likely to object would be aware of what was happening. However, the best laid schemes of mine and men aft gang agley.
We very quickly met with intense opposition to our advance. Guildsmen poured into the corridor and we were soon fighting for every inch of gain. As the numbers facing us increased our push ground to a halt. It was a matter of flailing arms and much vocal invective for a while, but then someone at the rear of the RSM attack squad had the brilliant idea of breaking out a fire hose and turning it on our opponents. At which the jet tumbled Guildsmen like ninepins. Not to be outdone however, they brought a second fire hose into play and high pressure water was suddenly flying hard in all directions like, well, high pressure water I suppose.
It seemed only logical to get hold of and let a few fire extinguishers enter the fray – why not?
At that point along came the literal dampener with the sudden appearance of various members of both the RSM and Guilds staff. The affray had little option but to fizzle out ignominiously. The corridor was by then running a couple of inches deep in water; extinguisher foam coated several of the glass display cases along the way, effectively making a mystery of their contents. Meanwhile back in the RSM building the staircase between the first and ground floors was giving an acceptably good imitation of a waterfall.
Following a subsequent high level enquiry led by inter alia the orange juice Dean, all of us involved were identified as guilty culprits. We were each fined the sum of ten pounds – living then on less than five pounds per week I found it to be a punitive amount of money. Despite threatening noises no one among us was sent down which was the fortunate thing, although we were all sworn to be on our best behaviour thereafter.
A chance would be a fine thing.
As far as I am aware, that foray into Guilds was Mitch’s only such outing of its kind. It was strongly suspected that influential people on the RSM staff had not been altogether too averse to the spirit of our endeavour to put one over on Guilds, but we all knew better than to push our luck any further.
Alumnus Number 90086637
Given that there was a bunch of students in RCS who claimed (quietly) that they could get into any room in any building at IC, it could be thought of as naive for RSM Union officials to think that the Davy Lamp was safe in the RSM Union office.
Once we had it, we modified it as described above, painted it wonderful RCS colors, and laid a trail of clues. One of the clues was stuck to the inside of Big Ben, the big bronze bell at the top of the Clock Tower at the Houses of Parliament. However, RSM were clueless and ended up having to pay a ransom to charity to the get the now-much-heavier Davy Lamp back.
Wow, Ralph! How ever in the world did you manage to get inside the Clock Tower of Parliament? That is a rather remarkable and daring episode in it’s own right indeed.
Both Davy mk I & II had a brief reunion in Lexham Gardens in 1990 courtesy of the RCS black hole.