The History of the BA Science Festival

BA is the shortened term for the British Association for the Advancement of Science or BAAS. It was a society founded by William Vernon Harcourt in 1831. After growing tired and jaded with the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge or The Royal Society for short which seemed to be the predecessor of the BA. While the BA was founded in 1831, The Royal Society was founded in 1660 and still receives 30 million pounds annually from the UK government.

The Royal Society was founded 171 years before the BA. However, The Royal Society were elitist and very conservative while the BA was more liberal towards the sciences.

Before the festival was named the BA Festival of Science, it was basically an annual meeting. The BA’s first meeting was held in York on September 27th, 1831. The month and location probably plays a big role where each BA Festival of Science is held each year. However, from the previous year’s meeting a new location would be chosen. Since this year’s festival took place in York, they already had a meeting on where next year’s BA Festival of Science will take place.

The meetings focused in the recent years on introducing science to the general public and public engagement in science. That pretty much sums up the history of the BA Festival of Science. Before it was dubbed as the BA Festival of Science, they were just regular yearly meetings.

On an interesting tidbit, they made a decision in 1878 that could’ve delayed the computer age by several decades by refusing to construct the analytical engine drawn out by Charles Babbage.

From annual meetings to focusing on public engagement in science, the BA has made one of the largest public science festivals in the world let alone the United Kingdom. Not only does it attract all sorts of notable figures in the world of science, the festival brings a great deal of media coverage.

The festival seems to have started to accelerate to its current state within the last few decades.