Leslie Fleetwood Bates was born at Kingswood, Bristol, in 1897. He was educated at the Merchant Venturers' School and the University of Bristol where he read physics, graduating in 1916. He spent the next four years as a radiographer with the British army in India, returning to Bristol in 1920 to pursue research. He remained at Bristol until 1922, and it was during this period that he was introduced by A.P. Chattock to the study of magnetism which became his main research interest for the rest of his life.
After what Bates described as a two years 'interlude', working under Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he completed a Ph.D. thesis on the study of long range alpha particles, Bates was appointed to a lectureship at University College, London, in 1924. In 1930 he was promoted to Reader in Physics and in 1936 he became Lancashire-Spencer Professor of Physics at the University College (later University) of Nottingham.
There is very little material in the collection from Bates's pre-Nottingham career; see B.1 - B.3 for notebooks from the period at Bristol, and B.4 - B.13 for lectures delivered to undergraduates at London. However, Bates continued to retain strong links with London University, and these are well documented in the collection. In particular he acted as Visiting Examiner, 1961-77 (see F.1 - F.26), and was also invited to deliver several series of lectures on magnetism (see B.14 - B.16).
Bates remained at Nottingham University until his retirement in 1964. He established a thriving research group based on his own interest in magnetism and was most actively involved in administration and general conduct of affairs, not only in his own department but in the University as a whole. He was a member of the Association of University Teachers (President, 1938-39) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University, 1953-55 (see C.11). He was also responsible for the building of a large new Physics Department (see C.14 - C.23) which he was able to direct for a short time before his retirement in 1964. Most of the material relating to Nottingham University is to be found in Section C, but there are other papers scattered throughout the collection - see the list of references in the introduction to Section C. Many of the correspondents in Section G are former students or colleagues of Bates at Nottingham.
Of Bates's actual scientific work very little remains, apart from the early notebooks at C.1 - C.3. There are no other notebooks or laboratory records, only drafts for lectures and publications. This may be explained by the fact that much of the collection, with the exception of a few items of personal or biographical interest, dates from the period after Bates's retirement. Thus there is a wealth of papers covering his examining activities and some of the committees on which he served, in particular the Royal Society Symbols Committee of which he was Chairman, 1968-77 (D.86 - D.106), the British Standards Institution Units and Symbols Standards Committee (D.11 - D.34), the University Grants Committee, for which Bates was an Assessor, 1965-68 (D.107 - D.118), and the University of London Academic Advisory Committee to investigate the future role of Birkbeck College (D.59 - D.73).
Bates attached great importance to public work, and the Section covering his membership of committees and societies is a large one, even though not all his activities are as well documented as those mentioned above. In particular, his work as Senior Scientific Adviser for Civil Defence, North Midland Region (1951-72, see D.39 - D.44) led to the award of the C.B.E. in 1966.
Another activity more directly connected with Bates's own research interests was his membership of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Commission on Magnetism, of which he was Secretary, 1957-66 (see D.52 - D.57). He was thus actively involved in several international conferences held under the auspices of IUPAP, many of which are documented in Section E. One of these, held at Nottingham in September 1964, was of special concern to Bates.
As Chairman of the Organising Committee he was actively involved in the administrative detail of the conference; he delivered the 47th Guthrie Lecture on this occasion, and also 'celebrated' his retirement. See E.10 - E.34 for a full record of the conference.
A. BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL A.1 - A.34
B. NOTEBOOKS, LECTURES, PUBLICATIONS B.1 - B.48
C. UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM C.1 - C.27
D. COMMITTEES AND SOCIETIES D.1 - D.118
E. CONFERENCES E.1 - E.50
F. EXAMINING AND EDUCATION F.1 - F.41
G. CORRESPONDENCE G.1 - G.71
Section A contains a number of items of biographical interest, especially speeches and letters of congratulation, most of which were assembled and kept together by Bates as likely to be of interest to a memoralist or biographer. He also annotated some of his correspondence in the course of sorting it after his retirement in 1964, and his remarks have been quoted in the catalogue entries where appropriate. When Bates lost the regular service of a secretary on his retirement he would jot down the substance of his replies on his incoming letters, thus preserving the tenor of his correspondence despite the absence of carbon copies. His meticulous attention to detail and his conscientious handling of any matter that was brought to his attention are evident throughout the collection.