Skip to main content

Prof. Vinicio Barocas (1914-2016), 1940 - 2017

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 94/2

Scope and Contents

Includes photographs of Vinicio Barocas during and after WW2, two prisoner identity discs from his time in a Canadian internment camp, telegrams to secure his release, photographs of Abinger, an autobiography by Barocas, and a biography of Barocas by his friend Ian Cuerden.


  • Creation: 1940 - 2017


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Prof. Vinicio Barocas (2 Aug. 1914 - 16 Nov. 2016) was an astronomer, freemason, Rotarian, academic and refugee who worked as an assistant at the ROG Time Department at Abinger from 1941-1949.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1938 he completed his doctoral thesis in astronomy at the University of Florence, while working at the Arcetri Observatory. Being of Italian Jewish origin, Barocas was soon forced to leave Italy when racial purity laws were introduced following a visit by Adolf Hitler. With the help of Dr Wilfred Hall, a wealthy private astronomer in Northumberland, he secured a non-salaried position at Hepple to work for Hall on the infrared spectrum of the sun. When Italy joined the Axis on June 10th 1940, however, Barocas became an enemy alien overnight. He was arrested and was interned briefly as an alien in wartime at Isle St Helene, Montreal, Canada. Barocas was duly released after the intervention of the then Astronomer Royal and professional astronomy friends, who helped arrange for his employment as a Temporary Observing Assistant at the Time Department in Abinger in August 1941. He remained in employment there until 1949, when he took up his post as Director of the Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory in Preston, where he stayed until retirement in August 1979. Towards the end of the war, Barocas made programmes for the Italian section of the BBC on recent scientific developments. He remained active in his outreach activities in astronomy through subsequent involvement in youth education, appearing also on episodes of The Sky at Night. Barocas was married to Winifred (Winny) Esther Simons whom he met at Abinger. He lived to be 102.

Ian Cuerden was a close friend of Barocas. Upon Barocas’s death, with the approval of Barocas’ only surviving relative (now residing in Rome), Cuerden salvaged these photographs along with 15 glass plates from Barocas’ home. He generously donated scans of the photographs to the RGO Archives in 2019, along with 15 glass plates (now at RGO 85).


3 folder(s) : paper & photograph

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

TAN 2019/0006 & TAN 2020/002

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ian Cuerden in August 2019.

Related Materials

For further photographs of Barocas at Abinger, see RGO 220/2/2/2. Glass plates which belonged to Barocas are at RGO 85/1/3.

Finding aid date

2019-08-05 15:15:30+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom