Reginald Rigby :OBITUARY

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The Independent Online
The study of refractories (high-temperature ceramics) is a specialised area of technology, but one of great and increasing industrial importance. Reginald Rigby was a world leader in the field, and published 112 papers in scientific journals in Britain, Europe and America.

Bricks which were employed in building furnaces used to be unreliable at the high temperatures necessary for the manufacture of steel and other industrial products such as glass and cement. Rigby experimented with a new material, chrome-magnesite, measuring the mechanical strength at very high temperatures and gradually improving the design of the furnaces and the composition of the bricks, whilst monitoring the efficiency of heat transfer. The American Chemical Society bestowed on him its John Jeppson Award "for his outstanding technical achievements and his contribution to ceramic technology". A grateful Canada named a street after him (Rue Rigby, in Lachute, in Quebec). Hewas always very proud of this.

Rigby won a Royal Scholarship to Imperial College London in 1928 and, after a brilliant career culminating in a PhD, he took up an appointment at the British Refractories Research Association in Stoke-on-Trent. His outstanding research during the next 24 years was recognised by London University with the award of a DSc.

From Stoke he was invited in 1957 to Canada as Director of Research at Canadian Refractories, at Lachute, where he stayed 11 years, till he returned to England to become a senior research fellow at Leeds University. An appointment followed with the University of Cape Town, where Rigby set up a new department in refractory ceramics. His final overseas posting in 1975 was to the University of Penang, where for two years he was associate professor.

Reginald Rigby was a man of wide interests which he was always glad to share with others. As an authority on medieval church architecture he was much sought after as a lecturer. He was a skilled gardener. He possessed a wonderful collection of ancient maps of Staffordshire, painstakingly amassed and almost complete.

In 1948 he was granted the Beilby Memorial Award of the Institute of Chemistry, and he delivered the British Mellor Memorial lecture in 1966. He made numerous distinguished contributions to the Victoria County History and also had publications in the Canadian Geographical Journal and with the North Staffs Field Club. His one book, Thin Section Mineralogy Ceramic Materials, published in 1948, is still often referred to in its second edition.

George Reginald Rigby, industrial scientist: born Stoke-on-Trent 15 July 1908; married 1933 Elinor Allen (one daughter); died Garforth 6 September 1995.

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