OBITUARY : Brian Oddie

Brian Oddie had the unusual distinction of gaining an international reputation in two quite different fields, athletics and meteorology.

He was educated at Luton Grammar School and Queen Mary College, London, where he took a degree in Physics which might have been even higher were it not for his running.

In athletics he represented Britain on many occasions, running in the 1928 Olympic Games, in the 5,000 metres, against the legendary Nurmi of Finland and winning a gold medal in the 1930 Empire Games.

Oddie joined the Meteorological Office in 1926 and retired in 1966 as Deputy Director. The Meteorological Office was formed in 1854 so that, according to Hansard, "we might know in this metropolis the condition of the weather 24 hours beforehand [laughter]". Its first head was Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who was captain of the Beagle on the remarkable survey voyage during which Charles Darwin made the observations later used in developing his theories of evolution. FitzRoy set up a system for communicating weather observations by telegraph and the first storm warning for shipping was issued on 6 February 1861.

Brian Oddie's first job placed him in the forefront of meteorological research in connection with the airship development programme. This came to an abrupt end in 1930 with the R101 disaster but the results, embodied in papers on low- level wind structure, have had a long-lasting value.

Oddie became a practising weather forecaster, serving in both war and peacetime in places as different as the north-west frontier in India and the Shetland Islands. In those days all the charts were plotted by hand with twin black and red pens and there was no assistance in analysis and forecasting from computer models, satellite pictures or weather radar.

In 1955 he returned to research and established himself in atmospheric chemistry, where his realistic opinions on the subject of rain-making were not always well received. As Deputy Director from 1959 he was much involved with techniques of observing the weather and the planning and installation of the high-speed computer, Comet.

High-speed then would mean desk-top now, but developments in numerical models of the atmosphere taken forward by others have since transformed the science of weather forecasting, which has always been a science, though perhaps in his time more tinged with the art of experience.

Brian Oddie was gentle, compassionate and intelligent. He was a man with a child-like passion in whatever took his interest. This varied enormously and included games-playing, music, history, astronomy, carpentry and, most importantly, his grandchildren.

At bridge, he founded the local league in Bracknell, still flourishing over 30 years later. With his wife Phyl, he played a mean game; they took up the Precision Club system in their eighties and were still winning events at a combined age of over 180.

He became the president of the local history society and had a particular interest in local church history and the history of pub signs.

Brian Oddie lived his 91 years to the full. He was a broad and cultured man with a twinkle of good-humour. I imagine he is the only person to have quoted Gertrude Stein at a postings board meeting of the Meteorological Office.

Brian Cecil Vernon Oddie, meteorologist: born Luton 15 May 1905; staff, Meteorological Office 1926- 66, Deputy Director 1959-66; CBE 1965; married 1933 Phyllis Bate (one son, one daughter); died Bracknell, Berkshire 7 August 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea