The Institute was made up of a wide range of talented and dedicated scientists, technicians, engineers and support staff. This page tells you something about their work and about the lighter side of life at Wormley.
Image is of J.N. (Jack) Carruthers with one of his simple but effective instruments - assisted (left) by D.W. (Dick) Privett, later the Institute's librarian. Photo late 1950s.
Fellows of the Royal Society
Among the people who worked at the Wormley laboratory several were awarded the highest accolade of British science, Fellowship of the Royal Society. The Royal Society publishes biographical memoirs which give a comprehensive picture of these scientists lives. The following is a list of people who worked at Wormley, NIO/IOS and in group W staff and who were elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society. Links are provided to their Royal Society Biographical Memoirs.
Deacon G.E.R (1906-1984) Marine chemist and founder Director Elected 1944
Mortimer, C.H. (1911-2011) Group W, limnologist Elected 1958
Longuet-Higgins, M.S. (1925- 2016) Group W, hydrodynamics and waves Elected 1963
Swallow, J.C. (1923-1994) Ocean circulation Elected 1968
Ursell, F.J. (1923-2012) Group W, mathematician Elected 1972
Charnock, H. (1920-1997) Group W, air sea interaction, Director Elected 1976
President, Royal Meteorological Society.
Laughton, A.S. (1927-2019) Geophysicist, Director Elected 1980
Clarke, M.R. (1930-2013) Squid and whale biologist Elected 1981*
Cartwright, D.E. (1926 -2015) Tides Elected 1984
Thorpe, S.A. ( ) Internal waves and bubbles Elected 1991
Fasham, M.J.R. (1942 -2008) Geophysicist, biogeochemist, ocean modeller Elected 2000
The British Library "Voices of Science" series includes extensive histories recorded by several scientists who worked at, or were associated with, the Wormley laboratory. Their interviews are available from the following links, David Cartwright, Jim Crease, Tony Laughton, Norman Smith and John Woods .
The Royal Meteorological Society also holds an interview with John Swallow made shortly before his death.
Here we provide links to PDF files containing personal anecdotes about aspects of the working lives of people who worked at Wormley.
John Moorey "Ashore and afloat",
Bob Wallace "My first cruise",
Bob Belderson "Two vessels off the Amazon and one in the Caribbean"
Colin Pelton "The Heath Robinson Guide to Anamorphics"
John Gould has published an account of his working life as "Discovery after
Discovery" in the book "To Sea for Science"
Recollections of EXPO'98 in Lisbon by Colin Pelton
In 1998 the then recently refitted and enlarged RRS Discovery was the centrepiece of the event. Colin Pelton and many other NERC and Wormley/Southampton staff were involved in planning and hosting the event. Here are Colin's recollections.
Formal and informal
Left, the RRS Discovery smoke room
Right. Officers in their tropical "rig"
International Indian Ocean Expedition
RRS Discovery reunions
On June 1st 1963 RRS Discovery sailed from Plymouth on her maiden science cruise, providing the main UK contribution to the International Indian Ocean Expedition. Cruises 1, 2 and 3, focusing on biology, geology and geophysics, and physical oceanography respectively, ended with her return in September 1964 (Refs 1, 2). If subsequent cruises had been of similar duration, her last one before retirement (D382) would have taken place about 150 years later!
Forty years on and a burst of nostalgia prompted me to see whether there was an appetite for a reunion. Indeed there was. Despite the loss of many of the more senior members of the original party, both scientific and shipside, we were still able to contact 52 colleagues and shipmates and, with the help of John Jones (University College London), arranged a lunch on June 11th 2003 for 29 of us at the Naval Club in Mayfair ( Ref 3). It was a very convivial and nostalgic event, with photos of yesteryear, and we decided to reconvene as best we could in 5 years’ time. So it was that on July 4th 2008 a group of 23 IIOE veterans enjoyed another lunch at the Naval Club and jointly determined that the 50th anniversary should not go unmarked. June 20th 2013 thus provided a slightly more structured celebration of the Golden Anniversary at the same venue. The event began with a film taken by Maurice Hill on Cruise 2 and a display of photographs and other memorabilia, followed by lunch for our group of 25 and a talk about the IIOE by Tony Laughton. Would we meet again? Of course we would, but 5 years now seemed a somewhat risky wait and, prompted by Graham Topping and again organised so efficiently by John Jones, a 54th anniversary lunch took place on September 21st 2017. Remarkably we were still able to muster 24 of our number, including Peter Brewer for the first time from Monterey. An excellent lunch, with much banter and retelling (accurately??) of some of the events of 1963 and ’64, was of course also the occasion for a heartfelt toast to absent friends. Now in our senior years, we all remember those who are no longer with us, but for Phil Roberts D.S.O., our erstwhile 3rd mate and subsequently captain of Sir Galahad in the Falklands it must always be a particularly poignant toast.
Will we meet again? I hope so, but we may need a shorter interval to maintain a quorum!
1.Laughton, A.S. (2004) IIOE: recollections of the International Indian Ocean Expedition. Ocean Challenge, 13, no.1, 18-24.
2. Herring, P.J. (2012) RRS Discovery and the IIOE cruises; when oceanography came of age. Ocean Challenge, 19, no.2, 38-43.
3. Herring, P.J. (2004) Life on Discovery…..forty years ago. Ocean Challenge, 13, no.1, p.17.
Those present at the 2017 reunion were:
Eric Anstead John Jopling
Tony Ashby Malcolm Kelly
Bob Belderson John Kempton
Derek Bishop Tony Laughton
Tony Boxell +Nicolas Boxell Nigel Merrett
Peter Brewer Phil Roberts
Jim Crease John Scott
Dai Davies John Shorthouse
(Peter Foxton: cancelled through illness) Graham Topping
Tim Francis Fred Vine
Peter Herring Bob Whitmarsh
Peter Herring November 2017
In this section we provide descriptions of the lives of some of our former colleagues. Clicking on the blue links will take you to the document (s). We have also added a brief description of their specialist areas and the dates they worked for NIO/IOS.
The Farnham League final team
Back row L-R - Pat Gwilliam, Andrew Laing (visiting from New Zealand), Howard Roe, Rich Jordon, Mike Fasham, Dave Edge, Brian Barrow.
Front Row L-R - Keith Birch, Ian Rouse, Steve Rowe, and Andy Thomas
NIO/IOS Cricket at Wormley
Keith Birch January 2016
From early days NIO always had a social element, which demonstrated the closeness of the staff, and this spirit developed over the years, eventually spawning the Social Club. Since there were a significant number of young staff sporting prowess came to the forefront and a cricket team was formed. It played midweek matches against local village teams, from other local organisations and teams of masters from nearby schools. As local sport evolved the Wormley-based team joined the Division 2 of the Farnham Midweek Cricket League playing home matches on King Edwards School pitches next to the labs.
The league was ground-breaking, playing 20 over cricket long before the professional teams adopted the format. What made the matches inclusive was the rule that required each team to use six different bowlers. Since few teams had that many bowlers, this rule brought out the captain’s skill of deciding when to use the expertise of batsman and bowler, trying to frustrate the opposition’s best batsman with the bowlers variability and trying to get the higher scoring batsmen against the oppositions weaker bowlers. There were some famous examples of these tactics being successful. On one occasion an opposition batsman complained about being bowled two successive wides. He was then bowled out middle stump in the first three balls of a match.
The matches were short and sharp, with the tactics designed to beat the fading light, but most of all to get to the bar for the evening’s main social event.
Achievements were about fun, winning was not paramount, it was all about being together with your colleagues. The nearest we reached to cricketing success was reaching the final of the Farnham league at Aldershot Park.
More reminisciences of Wormley sports
Pam Draper (Edwards) January 2016
The NIO Hockey team played two or three matches against a mixed team from King Edward's School, "mixed" meaning male and female staff and pupils, I think. It was probably in the late 1950s but might have been a bit later.
I seem to remember that James Crease was the NIO's star attacker, being quick and dextrous, though Michael Longuet-Higgins was pretty fast too; I was amused to see Michael stuffing copies of the Times newspaper down inside
his long socks to act as shin guards - very wise. Henry Charnock was a solid defender, helped by Pam Edwards and others, and we had a brilliant goalie, Brian Barry (Commander, ex NZ Navy) who, although with only one hand, was
formidable. I think John Cherriman replaced Brian as goalie after Brian left us, and he too was great. Roland Cox played mid-field, I think, as did Margaret Deacon? and Anne Bristow from Main Office.
I think we lost our matches but we all enjoyed them.