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Arthur William Crossley (1869-1927)
THE LATE DR. A. W. CROSSLEY.
We regret to record that Dr. A. W. Crossley, eminent in chemical research, died on Saturday, March 5, at Thorngrove, Cheshire, in his fifty-ninth year, on the same date as his resignation of the directorship of the British Cotton Research Association’s Shirley Institute at Didsbury was announced. Exactly a year ago, on March 25, 1926, Dr. Crossley was obliged, owing to failing health, to resign the presidency of the Chemical Society, after only one year of office, instead of the usual term of two years. He was able to preside at the annual meeting of that year, held for the first time in the history of the Chemical Society outside London, viz., in Manchester, but he could not attend the annual meeting of the Cotton Research Association in December last and had to send in his report instead of presenting it personally.
Born on February 25, 1869, at Accrington, and educated at Mill Hill School, Arthur William Crossley entered Owen’s College, Manchester, as a student of chemistry when only 16 years of age, and completed his studies at Wurzburg and Berlin, partly under the leading organic chemist of his time, Emil Fischer. After further physical research work at Manchester, where he took his D.Sc., he was, in 1904, appointed lecturer in chemistry at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. Later he became director of the Research Laboratory of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Daniell Professor of Chemistry at King’s College ; the Royal Society elected him a Fellow in 1907.
During the war, he was secretary of the Chemical Warfare Committee of the Ministry of Munitions, and, after 1916, was commandant, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, of the experimental station of the Royal Engineers at Porton, Salisbury. In 1919, he was offered the post of director of the newly founded Cotton Research Association. The Didsbury Institute was opened in 1922, and the recognition of the utility of the work done there by the cotton manufacturers, who soon doubled their subscription for a further period of five years, was largely due to his efforts and his courteous bearing. The staff consists, at present, of nearly a hundred persons engaged in investigations in the fields of physics, chemistry, especially colloidal chemistry, and biology. When delivering his presidential address at Manchester last year on the co-operation of science and industry and the training of the chemist, Crossley mentioned that the cotton chemist had to deal with a biological entity, the cotton hair not being a definite substance from the chemist’s point of view. Most of his papers, mainly on organic chemistry, were presented to the Chemical Society, which awarded him its highest distinction, the Longstaff Medal, in 1918, and elected him its foreign secretary for several years. He did not write any text-books.
He married a daughter of Mr. Ralph Lamb, of Liverpool, and leaves a son and daughter. As an indication of his views on research, we may quote the words of a distinguished colleague of his, R. Schmidt, of Elberfeld, with which Crossley concluded a Royal Institution discourse in 1915 (see Engineering, February 12, 1915, page 194) as follows :—“ It is pure and organised research work, carried out in the laboratory, which is the soul of industrial prosperity.”