Born into a working class family in Bradford on September 23rd 1913, Colin Siddons was a brilliant physicist and educator. He graduated after a scholarship with first class honours from Cambridge, yet it took 83 applications and 13 interviews before he got his first teaching post after graduation.
In the 1930s, his prominent criticism on appeasing policies did not assist his career. Indeed, joining the Communist Party in 1938, Colin Siddons found himself jailed for three months in 1940 for speaking out against the imperialist aims of the phoney war period and suspended from teaching.
Siddons was convicted, along with fellow Bradford Communist Felix Walsh, of "making statements likely to prejudice the defence of the Realm and insulting words likely to cause a breach of the peace". This arose from speeches that the pair had made at a meeting at Shipley Green. Both denied making the alleged statement and the Daily Worker reported that "the statements alleged (were) statements no communist would ever make".
He spent the war with the 8th Army in the Middle East and was able to engage in learning Russian and teaching fellow soldiers politics, physics and astronomy. In 1946, he was allowed back into teaching and the following year became head of science at Thornton grammar school in Bradford. He became noted for a teaching style of great attraction, which used ordinary household materials to demonstrate scientific principles in a fun-filled way, a style much emulated in later years.
After formal retirement in 1968, he continued to teach at Bradford and Leeds universities. In 1992, he was the winner of the Bragg medal of the Institute of Physics, which was awarded for his unique brand of teaching. Colin Siddons died aged 86 on November 8th 1999.
Source: Guardian 9th February 2000; Daily Worker October 11 1940