OBITUARIES: Professor Elfyn Richards

Elfyn Richards was the first Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton University, where in the 1950s he set up a strong postgraduate school to explore noise and vibration in the fields of Aerodynamics, Structures and Materials, a school which has produced a large proportion of the experts in the subject today.

Richards was also the first director of the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), set up at Southampton in 1963, where the research and teaching covered every aspect of noise and vibration ranging from Aerodynamics to Audiology, with applications to all forms of transport on road, sea and air, to noise in the workplace, and diseases of the ear and deafness. Today no other institution in the world can rival the scope and expertise of ISVR in the field of Sound and Vibration, a testament to Elfyn Richards's vision.

Richards was born in Barry, near Cardiff, in 1914, and educated at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and St John's College, Cambridge. His professional career started in 1938 at the Bristol Aeroplane Company, where he joined aerodynamicists including Ernest Relf, Arthur Fage, Sidney Goldstein, Douglas Holder and James Lighthill.

It was a period when great advances were made in aerofoil and wing design. From 1945 to 1950 Richards was Chief Aerodynamicist and Assistant Chief Designer under Sir George Edwards at Vickers Armstrong, Weybridge. The significant successful aircraft which bore the stamp of Richards's expertise were the Viking and later the Viscount, the first turboprop commercial transport aircraft in the world. The Valiant bomber was also designed and flown successfully during his time at Weybridge.

It was while at Vickers Armstrong that Richards first recognised the importance of noise and vibration as subjects woefully deficient in research and yet so important in the design of successful aircraft both in the commercial and military fields. He became a member of the Aeronautical Research Council and its several committees.

After 17 years at Southampton, Richards left in 1967 to become the first Vice-Chancellor of the newly created University of Loughborough and changed the former Loughborough College of Technology into a respected university but still retaining its function as a centre concentrating on the application of knowledge to the betterment of mankind. On leaving Loughborough in 1975 he returned to Southampton and continued his research on sound and vibration.

"Sam" Richards was not a man who waited for things to happen. He had a vision for the future and worked courageously and persuasively, against all opposition, to see that vision fulfilled. He was an outspoken proponent of legislation to control noise in the environment, a member of the Government's Noise Advisory Council, and a founder member of the Institute of Acoustics and its first President.

He received honorary degrees from many universities, including Wales, Southampton, Loughborough and Heriot-Watt. He was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics. He was awarded the Taylor Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the James Watt Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Silver Medal of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1980 he was made an honorary member of the Acoustical Society of America.

Geoffrey Lilley

Elfyn John Richards, aeronautical engineer: born Barry, Glamorgan 28 December 1914; research assistant, Bristol Aeroplane Company 1938-39; Scientific Officer, National Physical Laboratory, Teddington 1939-45; Chief Aerodynamicist and Assistant Chief Designer, Vickers Armstrong Ltd, Weybridge 1945-50; Professor of Aeronautical Engineering, Southampton University 1950-64, Founder Director, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research 1963-67, Research Professor and Acoustical Consultant 1975-84 (Emeritus); OBE 1958; Vice-Chancellor, Loughborough University 1967-75; President, British Acoustical Society 1968-70; President, Society of Environmental Engineers 1971-73; married 1941 Eluned Jones (died 1978; three daughters), 1986 Olive Meakin (died 1989), 1990 Miriam Davidson; died Romsey, Hampshire 7 September 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map