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Henry Tizard

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Sir Henry Thomas Tizard (1885–1959), physical chemist and science administrator

1885 born on 23 August 1885 at Gillingham, Kent, the only son of Thomas Henry Tizard (1839–1924), naval officer and hydrographer, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Churchward (d. 1931)

1891 the family moved to Surbiton to be closer to Thomas Tizard's work for the Admiralty.

Educated at Enfield House, Surbiton, and Westminster School, and then Magdalen College, Oxford

1908 Graduated. At his tutor's suggestion he spent time in Berlin, where he met and formed a close friendship with Frederick Alexander Lindemann.

1909 He became a researcher in the Davy–Faraday Laboratory of the Royal Institution, working on colour change indicators.

1911 Tizard returned to Oxford as a tutorial fellow at Oriel College and to work as a demonstrator in the electrical laboratory

WWI he began war service in the Royal Garrison Artillery at Portsmouth, training recruits using his mathematical skills rather than regular army procedures.

1915 Transferred to the Central Flying School at Upavon where he learned to fly. Worked initially on bombsights and then testing new aircraft.

1915 Married Kathleen Eleanor (d. 1968), daughter of Arthur Prangley Wilson, a mining engineer. They had 3 sons

1917 Bertram Hopkinson, who was responsible for research and development in aeronautics, appointed Tizard as scientific officer in charge of aircraft testing at the newly established experimental station at Martlesham, Suffolk. Tizard set up methods of accurately measuring aircraft performance in various weather and service conditions and developed a range of new flying techniques. Moved to the headquarters of the Ministry of Munitions with Hopkinson

1918 On the formation of the Royal Air Force, Tizard was appointed assistant controller of research and experiments at the newly created Air Ministry; he became acting controller following Hopkinson's death in an air crash.

1919 Tizard returned to Oxford

1919 Member of the Aeronautical Research Committee

1920 He was made a reader in chemical thermodynamics. Experimented with addition of gasworks benzol to gasoline; found that toluene was better. Harry Ricardo invited Tizard and David Randall Pye to join him at his Shoreham laboratory. Tizard accepted on the condition that the results of research were published, to which Robert Waley Cohen of Shell, which was financing the project, agreed.

They identified pinking and knocking as the most important factors limiting performance of petrol engines. Tizard proposed the term "toluene number" to express the detonation characteristics of each fuel, which was later replaced by "octane number" developed by the Americans.

1920 Became assistant secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, firstly co-ordinating the scientific work of the defence and civil departments.

1927 - April. He was appointed by His Majesty the King in Council to be secretary to the Committee of the Privy Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, on the retirement of Sir H. Frank Heath K.C.B. from that office on June 1st next.[1] Mainly responsible for establishing the National Chemical Laboratory at Teddington.

1929 Became rector of Imperial College, London

1933 Became chairman of the Aeronautical Research Committee; also chairman of its engine sub-committee.

1934 Took on the chair of the sub-committee on aerial defence. Also became chair of the sub-committee of the committee of imperial defence (CID).

1935 The Tizard committee met for the first time, when Robert Watson-Watt's idea for detecting the presence of aircraft by a radio beam was discussed.

1936 Played key part in winning support for Frank Whittle's jet engine

1936 Tizard and others resigned from the committee as a result of Lindemann's manouvres but took an active part in the RAF trials of radar at Biggin Hill and development of the necessary procedures

1937 Tizard was knighted for the Biggin Hill trials

1938 he persuaded Mark Oliphant, at Birmingham University, to drop some of his nuclear research and concentrate on development of an improved source of short-wave radiation. This led to the invention by John Turton Randall and H. A. H. Boot of the cavity magnetron, a major advance in radar technology. This provided a basis for airborne interceptors using radar, to which Tizard contributed his support and helped build the confidence of the air crews.

WWII Tizard advised the chief of air staff on scientific matters for the first 10 months of the war, in addition to continuing chairmanship of the defence and offence committees

1940 Tizard resigned from all his Air Ministry commitments except the Aeronautical Research Committee because of the conflicts with Lindemann. Churchill proposed Tizard should lead a scientific mission to Canada and the United States to win sympathy and technical support in fighting the war. which was one of the key events in forging the Anglo-American alliance in the Second World War.

1942 At Churchill's insistence Tizard became a member of the new Radio Board.

1942 Tizard became president of Magdalen College, Oxford. He continued to provide advice to the British and Australian governments,

1947 Left Magdalen and returned to Whitehall as chairman of the defence research policy committee and member of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy.

1952 Retired from the civil service. Became pro-chancellor of Southampton University and chairman of the Goldsmiths' education committee, and sat on the board of the National Research Development Corporation and of several chemical concerns.

1959 Died at Fareham, Hampshire, on 9 October.


1959 Obituary [2]

WE record with regret the death of Sir Henry Tizard, which occurred last Friday, October 9.

Sir Henry, who was seventy-four, was a former Rector of the ln1perial College of Science and Technology and a former President of Magdalen College, Oxford. But without underestimating in any way the importance of these offices, it can be said that Sir Henry will best be remembered by engineers by his services to the Government as a member of the Air Council and as chairman of the Defence Research Policy Committee and the Government Scientific Policy Committee.

As a youth, Sir Henry was destined for a naval career. That intention had to be abandoned, however, because of defective eyesight and from Westminster School, where he received his early education, he secured a demyship in mathematics and science at Magdalen College, Oxford. Sir Henry graduated with first class honours in mathematical moderations and in chemistry, continued his studies for a year in Berlin and then worked for a year or so in the Davy Faraday Laboratory at the Royal Institution.

In 1911, Sir Henry was elected to a Fellowship at Oriel College, Oxford, and was a lecturer in natural science. Early in the first world war, he joined the army and before the end of 1915 transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. Subsequently, he became responsible for the scientific work at the aircraft testing station which was established at Martlesham.

Soon after the first world war, Sir Henry was appointed assistant secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, succeeding to the secretaryship in 1927. Two years later, he became Rector of the Imperial College, an office which he occupied with distinction for a period of thirteen years. During his years as Rector, Sir Henry was enthusiastic about the future development of the College, giving particular attention to the Departments of Aeronautics and Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. Before he relinquished the Rectorship there were many services which he was called upon to perform for the Government in the critical years of the second world war. He presided over many scientific committees concerned with air attack and defence.

After Sir Henry was elected President of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1942, a great deal of his time was taken up by his work on Government scientific committees, work that undoubtedly made him an obvious choice for the chairmanship of the Defence Research Policy Committee and the Government Scientific Policy Committee which were formed soon after the war ended. He retired from the chairmanship of both committees in 1952.

Throughout his career, Sir Henry made many notable contributions to scientific literature mainly by papers to learned societies and by articles published in scientific journals. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1926 and was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Honorary degrees were conferred upon him by no less than ten universities, and in 1948 he was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. His presidential address, entitled "The Passing World," covered a broad canvas. One point about it, we recall, was Sir Henry s conviction that in the post-war world, with its many problems, the spirit of adventure in science was as lively as ever. Sir Henry was created K.C.B. in 1937 and G.C.B. in 1949.



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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1927/04/01
  2. The Engineer 1959/10/16
  • Biography ODNB