Professor William Davey C.B.E. (1917-2015)

Wm Davey OBE (2)Bill Davey was born in 1917 at 168, Barrow Hill, the son of John George Davey, a coal miner. The family were regular attenders at the nearby Zion Primitive Methodist Church.

Bill started his education at Barrow Hill School in 1921. In those days, Barrow Hill School catered for pupils up to the age of 14, after which they began work.

Bill won a scholarship to continue his education at Netherthorpe Grammar School, becoming only the second pupil (after Arnold Nash) from Barrow Hill to do so. In 1934, aged 17, he left home to study for a B.Sc degree in Chemistry; going on to take his Ph.D at Huddersfield.

From 1940 onwards, Bill worked as an industrial chemist for ICI, Boots and Shell and was a consultant for Castrol. He also taught part-time at Huddersfield Technical College and The (Chelsea) Polytechnic.

World War II saw Bill working to develop fuel for the British version of the doodle bug, producing insulin and continuing to teach. He was instrumental in the invention of tribology (lubrication).

The first full-time lecturer at Acton Technical College in 1944 (now Brunel University), then Head of Chemistry at Regent Street (now University of Westminster) and finally President of Portsmouth Polytechnic (now University of Portsmouth), Bill has been recognised for his contributions with honorary degrees and a Professorship.

Away from his teaching, Bill wrote books on industrial chemistry, was a Scientific Training Officer for the Civil Defence, wrote over 40 published papers and was involved in the introduction of mobile forensic laboratories for the police.

He was awarded the C.B.E (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1978.

Davey Book


This article has been adapted from the authorised biography (pictured).