OBITUARY:Professor Charles Whewell

Charles Whewell was an authority on the textile industries, ranging from the production of natural and man-made fibres and fabric manufacture to the design and distribution of apparel, household and technical products for medical, aerospace and construction purposes.

He was born in 1912, and educated at the grammar school at Darwen, in Lancashire. He graduated in chemistry from Leeds University, and from 1937 held successive appointments there as Senior Lecturer in Textile Chemistry, Reader in Textile Finishing, Professor of Textile Technology and Professor and Head of the Department of Textile Industries. On his retirement he was appointed Emeritus Professor.

Whewell's particular speciality was the finishing of textile fabrics, the processes which change rough, hard pieces of cloth taken from the loom or knitting-machine into soft, luxuriant fabrics with many different visual and tactile characteristics.

From his early experiences at Leeds - including the analysis of the chemical and mechanical processes behind the process of milling, giving a woollen fabric a soft, thick texture - Whewell acquired a lively respect for the skills of craftsmen, coupled with a desire to probe with patience into those scientific principles on which their achievements were (albeit unknowingly) based.

His work in the field of textile practice, his elucidation of the whys and wherefores, his rationalisation of rule-of-thumb procedures of the past and his scientific contributions to modern processes are to be found in his numerous published papers, identifying the mechanical and scientific processes of textile manufacture, and in the minds of those who heard him lecture at Leeds and internationally.

Whewell brought to his activities a freshness of outlook and a clarity of analytical thinking which established for him a world-wide reputation almost unique in the realm of textile technology. Not only did he uncover the hidden mysteries of accumulated skill and experience on the factory shopfloor, he had the gift of so simplifying the story in explanation that lecture audiences, in many parts of the world and at many levels of erudition, listened in delight to his lucid expositions.

Whewell gave great service to the Textile Institute, the chartered body for those working in the professional, technical, managerial, academic and artistic capacities in the industry. He served as the institute's World President (there are members in nearly 100 countries), from 1977 to 1979, as Chairman of Council from 1964 to 1967 and on many of the institute committees for over 35 years. His presidency was noted for the development of new institute sections running lectures and programmes in their own countries.

He was the recipient of most of the Textile Institute's medals and awards, including the Warner Memorial Medal (1960), an Honorary Fellowship for his distinguished research work (1979), Honorary Life Membership (1987) and the Weavers' Company Medal and Prize (1992).

He was made an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers in 1970. He also received the Distinguished Service Award of the Indian Institute of Technology.

Whewell was as dedicated to Leeds University as he was to the textile industry. For the period 1973-75 he was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university. A housing association at Leeds carrying his name is a recognition of his work to improve facilities for graduate and undergraduate students. He acted as Honorary Secretary of the Lord Boyle Memorial Trust established after the tragic early death of the statesman Edward Boyle, who spent his last years as Vice- Chancellor of the university.

Charles Whewell was possessed of a gentle and modest demeanour and great wisdom. The cornerstone of his life was his long happy marriage to Emma Stott, herself a leading textile chemist and the joint author with the late Professor J.B. Speakman, of Leeds University, of many classical research papers which explored the chemical structures of fibres.

Arthur Harverd

Charles Smalley Whewell, textile technologist: born 26 April 1912; Professor of Textile Technology, Leeds University 1954-63, Professor of Textile Industries 1963-77 (Emeritus), Pro-Vice Chancellor 1973-75; World President, Textile Institute 1977-79; married 1937 Emma Stott (one son); died Leeds 31 May 1995.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain