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British Industrial History

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Richard Bertram Pilcher

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Richard Bertram Pilcher (c1874-1955) of the Royal Institute of Chemistry

1955 Obituary [1]

THERE are many engineers, especially those engaged in chemical engineering, who remember the years of valuable service rendered to the Royal Institute of Chemistry by Mr. Richard Bertram Pilcher. We regret to record his death, which occurred at Northwood, Middlesex, on October 1st, at the age of eighty-one.

Richard Pitcher was born at Patrixbourne, near Canterbury, and as a youth spent a couple of years or so in a stockbroker's office. During that time he studied chemistry at King's College, London, and in 1892 he joined the staff of the Royal Institute of Chemistry. Mr. Pilcher was appointed assistant secretary of the Institute in 1894, succeeded to the secretaryship a year later, and in 1900 he became registrar and secretary. He continued in that office until his retirement early in 1945, by which time he had completed fifty-three years' unbroken service with the Institute.

Richard Pilcher's work for the Royal Institute of Chemistry was not confined to his able guidance of its day-to-day affairs. He was a frequent lecturer at schools and colleges, all over the country, on science as a career and on the history of science.

In the first world war he served on many Government committees concerned with various aspects of munitions production, and in the years that followed he did a great deal of work associated with education in chemistry.

Furthermore, Mr. Pitcher was deeply interested in the formation and the work of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, of which he became a member in 1935 and a vice-president in 1943. He was also a past-president of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, to the fellowship of which he was elected in 1897.

During his long and valued career with the Royal Institute of Chemistry, Richard Pilcher was the author of many articles published in the scientific and technical press. We recall especially a series of articles entitled "What Industry Owes to Chemical Science," which, in collaboration with Frank Butler Jones, he contributed to our columns. These articles were subsequently reprinted as a book in THE ENGINEER library series.

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