The Physics Lawn ‘Crown’

April 11 / 58

Professor Tony Klein with the C.U.B Crown
Professor Tony Klein with the C.U.B Crown

In 1985, Professor Tony Klein, from the School of Physics, while walking by the river in Abbotsford, saw an intriguing 19th century industrial artefact in the maintenance yards of Carlton and United Breweries in Abbotsford.

Professor Klein thought such an item, shaped like a large crown, would be a nice piece of sculpture for the lawn outside the David Caro (Physics) building. 

The Crown, made of cast iron and weighing approximately three tonnes, had recently been removed from the top of the Carlton United Breweries chimney. 

Professor Klein said the Chimney Crown was a good example of the application of classical physics in action: the Crown’s weight kept the chimney from collapsing due to wind pressure. 

Professor Klein, together with then Chairman of the Grounds Advisory Sub-Committee Professor Carrick Chambers, asked then Vice-Chancellor David Caro to negotiate its relocation with C.U.B. 

Professor Caro spoke to C.U.B about the University’s acquisition of the Crown, but in February 1985, the acquisition process came to a halt - Chairman of C.U.B John Elliott said he wanted to keep it for C.U.B’s collection. 

However, two years later, the Chief Mechanical Engineer at C.U.B contacted Professor Klein - the large crown was causing him storage problems, so he pushed for it to be donated to the University.  

On 15 April 1987, Professor Klein left Vice-Chancellor Caro a simple telephone message: “We’ve got the crown!”

The piece then became part of the University’s cultural collections, and joined several other pieces of Australia’s history which have found new homes on campus, including the Bank of New South Wales façade.  

Professor Klein said he was very pleased about the crown’s reception in the years since its installation on the physics lawn. 

“The University has a long history of acquiring objects of this kind, and people are still intrigued by it,” he said.  

“I think it’s a beautiful object.”


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