This year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Worsley Building. There was a sense of déjà vu as HRH the Duke of Kent visited the Worsley Building at the end of May 2019, 40 years on from his previous visit.
Work to develop the building began in 1974 with a budget of £8million. It was to be a prestige building with brilliantly lit corridors and staircase. At 330ft long and 180ft broad, walking around the exterior covers the best part of a quarter of a mile.
The East half of the building began to be occupied in the summer of 1977, with 160 medical students arriving in October 1977. The building contains the medical school, dental school, health sciences library and facilities for academics, researchers and support staff. The well-equipped medical school lecture theatre was very much state of the art in 1977.
The Duke of Kent officially opened the building in March 1979, so it was fitting that after 40 years and a recent investment of £40m on refurbishment works, he should return to officially reopen the building.
Efforts were made to recreate and update parts of the 1979 visit, showcasing how the University has been harnessing digital technology to enhance and enrich the student educational experience. This included the Simodont dental training room, one of the largest facilities in Europe, where students refine their skills through the use of haptic devices.
The Duke of Kent saw first-hand how dentistry students still use the ‘phantom heads’ that were a routine part of learning in the 1970s, as well as the new cutting-edge research and 3D tooth printing which is now at the heart of the teaching experience for students.
During the visit he met Professor Brian Nattress, who was studying at the School of Dentistry and was involved in the previous visit.
The tour also showcased the teaching of anatomy in the School of Medicine where students can use ultrasound, online learning and 3D imagery to complement their time spent learning in a laboratory environment.
The Duke of Kent also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion, which has been installed adjacent to a plaque which marked the 1979 visit.