Between 1927 and 2020, the Liversidge Award was awarded to an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions to physical chemistry. The associated lectures described new research and pointed out the direction in which further research in physical chemistry was desirable. In 2020, as part of a series of changes introduced following an independent review of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recognition programmes, the Liversidge Award merged with the Bourke Award to create the Bourke-Liversidge Award, which recognises a mid-career scientist for contributions to any area of physical chemistry.
The award commemorates the name of Professor Archibald Liversidge, a benefactor of the then-named Chemical Society.
Liversidge, born in 1846 in Turnham Green, London, went on to study science at the Royal College of Chemistry and the Royal School of Mines. After a period at the Royal School of Navy Architecture as a chemistry instructor he moved to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he demonstrated in the laboratories and obtained his MA. In 1872 Liversidge took up the post of Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at the University of Sydney. He was instrumental in the opening of a new faculty of Science, for which he was the first Dean from 1879 until his retirement in 1907, and is one of few who admitted women to the university. By the time he retired the chemistry department had grown to include seven lecturers and demonstrators and 200 students.
A keen advocate of investigative teaching methods Liversidge sat on the original Board of Technical Education. One of his main priorities was to raise the standard and recognition of secondary and tertiary education. Also keen to promote science as widely as possible he became a trustee of the Australian Museum, founded the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he was President from 1897, and created the Sydney section of the Society of Chemical Industry, for which he was chairman (1903-5). Other important offices held by Liversidge were Vice-President of the Society of Chemical Industry (1909-12) and Chemical Society (1910-13).
One of Liversidge's major scientific publications, The Minerals of New South Wales, highlighted his main scientific interest. His research into dusts of meteoric origin led him to be one of the first to detect gold and platinum in such material. Throughout his research career he contributed over 100 papers to the Chemical Society, the Royal Society and the Royal Society of New South Wales.
The prize was established through a bequest from Archibald Liversidge. In 2021, the purposes of this Trust were amended, and remaining monies were combined with other generous bequests and donations to become part of the RSC Recognition Fund.