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Cecil Henry Desch

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Dr Cecil Henry Desch (1874-1958) of the National Physical Laboratory

1958 Obituary [1]

DR. Cecil Henry Desch, whose death, we regret to learn, occurred in London on June 19, was a former superintendent of the metallurgy department of the National Physical Laboratory.

Dr. Desch was born in London and, after receiving his general education at the Birkbeck school, he studied at Finsbury Technical College, King's College (London) and Wurzburg University.

In 1902, Dr. Desch joined the staff of the metallurgical department at King's College, London, and in 1909 he was appointed lecturer in metallurgical chemistry at Glasgow University. Subsequently, he was professor of metallurgy at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, and in 1920 he was appointed to the chair of metallurgy at Sheffield University. Dr. Desch continued his work at Sheffield until 1932 when he succeeded Dr. Waiter Rosenhain as superintendent of the metallurgy department at the N.P.L.

He retired from the N.P.L. in 1939, and for some years thereafter was engaged in industry and in consulting work, notably as director of research and development of Richard Thomas and Co., Ltd., prior to its amalgamation with Baldwins, Ltd.

Dr. Desch joined the Iron and Steel Institute in 1913 and more than thirty years later served for two years as its president; the Bessemer Gold Medal was awarded to him in 1938 in recognition of his work in the advancement of metallurgy.

Dr. Desch also served a two-year term as president of the Institute of Metals and, in 1941, was the recipient of that Institute's platinum medal.

He was president of the Faraday Society from 1926 to 1928, and in 1923 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Some other particula11 interests of Dr. Desch were the activities of the Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering and Technology and of the Institute of Sociology. On many occasions over the years he had contributed to the proceedings of these and the other professional societies with which he was associated.

Dr. Desch's reputation was enhanced by his writing as well as by his lecturing. He was the author of several books on metallurgical and chemical subjects. One of them, The Chemistry of Solids, was based on the George Fisher Baker lecture which he was invited to deliver at Cornell University, U.S.A., in 1931.

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