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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

                                                                      ORAL HISTORIES
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 LaughtonNorman Smith and John Woods .

The Royal Meteorological Society also holds an interview with John Swallow made shortly before his death.

                                                                PERSONAL STORIES

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
John Jones
Peter Jones

                                                                                           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.


N.A. Macintosh, CBE (1900-74)

Whale biologist, NIO

Deputy Director (1953-60)


James Marr (1902-1965)

Who sailed as a Boy Scout with Shackleton in 1921 and later became a whale and krill expert. (1949-65)

Screenshot 2023-09-22 at 14.23.27.png

Jack Darbyshire (1919-2004)

Welsh pioneer of wave research in

Group W who became  Professor at Bangor (1949-63).

Screenshot 2023-09-22 at 14.32.20.png

Henry Herdman (1901-1967)

Who planned and designed

the 1962 RRS Discovery (1949-66)

John and Mary_edited.jpg

Mary Swallow (1917-2006)

Geographer, NIO librarian, editor Deep-Sea Research (1954-77).

Fred Culkin.png

Fred Culkin (1929-2011)

Chemist who went on to lead the international Standard Seawater Service. (1960-89)


Sylvia Harvey (1930-2006)

Secretary, personal assistant, stalwrt of the Challenger Society.(1963-90)

Stuart Rusby .jpg

Stuart Rusby 1931 -2022

Expert in marine acoustics, central to the development of GLORIA, innovator.  (1964-1991)


Peter Saunders  1932-2020

Whose studies went from the high atmosphere to the abyssal ocean.  (1976-92).

David Pugh OBE (1943-2022)

Physicist,expert on tides and sea level. Chairman of the International Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.  (1969-2003)

Phil Pugh.jpeg

Phil Pugh (1943-2022)

Biologist who specialised in the taxonomy of siphonophores. (1969-2003).

Raymond Pollard (1945-2021)

Physicist who studied air-sea interaction and later became influential in ocean biogeochemistry. (1976-2005)


Peter Killworth (1946-2008)

Mathematician, ocean modeller, games developer, magician. (1985-2006).


Rob Kidd (1947-1996)

A pioneering scientist in the ocean drilling programme. (1973-84).

       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.

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