On the afternoon of February 28, 1953, a regular at The Eagle made an announcement to the other patrons enjoying their lunch in the Cambridge pub. He, along with his colleague James Watson, had discovered “the secret of life.”
The regular was Francis Crick, who worked at the nearby Cavendish laboratory, and the two scientists had cracked the double-helix structure of DNA. It marked a pivotal moment in science. Today, the pub has a plaque commemorating this momentous occasion and serves an ale called DNA.
The Eagle was opened in 1667 as the Eagle and Child and its proximity to the university made it a favorite for scientists and thinkers. It was also a favored haunt for soldiers and airmen. During World War II, RAF and American airmen used candles to burn graffiti of their names and nicknames on the pub’s ceiling during their evenings out. The graffiti was preserved and tourists visit the pub to catch a glimpse of this wartime form of art.
Update: The plaque outside was recently updated with a hand-scrawled “+ Franklin” by an anonymous passerby to highlight Rosalind Franklin’s key contributions to understanding DNA.
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