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Arnold Hartley Gibson

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Professor Arnold Hartley Gibson (c1879-1959), Professor of engineering in the University of Manchester.

Worked on steam-injection and live steam feed-water heating.

1959 Obituary [1]

DR. ARNOLD HARTLEY GIBSON, whose death we regret to record, occurred on February 17 at Alderley Edge, Cheshire, spent by far the greater part of his professional career as a teacher of engineering. At the time of his death he was Emeritus Professor of Engineering in the University of Manchester where he had graduated in 1903.

Professor Gibson, who was in his eighty-first year, received his general education at Rishworth Grammar School, and then served an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. After gaining his B.Sc. degree at Manchester, he was for a time head of the mathematics department at Salford Technical College, becoming subsequently an assistant lecturer in engineering and hydraulics at Manchester University.

Gibson was awarded his doctorate in 1909, in which year he was appointed professor of engineering in the university of St. Andrews. He continued in that position until 1920, though he was away from St. Andrews during the first world war, serving with the Royal Field Artillery as a captain, and from 1916 to 1919 being officer-in- charge of aero-engine research at the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

In 1920 he returned to Manchester University as Beyer Professor of Engineering, a post which he held until his retirement in 1949.

Professor Gibson's career will be primarily remembered for his contribution to the science of hydraulics. In fact, he studied under Osborne Reynolds at Manchester, and later on, as a professor, he was able to carry on the academic tradition of Reynolds' researches at that university. Gibson's researches in hydraulics were prolific, covering many aspects of that subject, and his writings are correspondingly varied and abundant. He will probably be most widely known for his textbook 'Hydraulics and Its Applications', which was first published in 1908 and which, after undergoing many revisions and new editions, is still in demand to-day. Forty years is a considerable life for a textbook, and is, indeed, remarkable when it covers a subject in which rapid advance 1s being made. Until quite recent years, the book was the only comprehensive text of its kind and it is unusual for the quantity of original research incorporated in its chapters.

One of the principal fields of application of hydraulics, that of hydro-electric engineering, was also a speciality of the professor's, and he edited a textbook on that subject which was a standard work for many years. He served on a Board of Trade committee which reported on the water power resources of the British Isles in 1921.

Apart from a comprehensive contribution to the science of hydraulics generally, and one which undoubtedly raised the status of British study in that field, Professor Gibson was chiefly associated with hydraulic model research, particularly with tidal models.

His best-known investigation was that of the Severn estuary, and of the effects of the proposed Severn barrage. His report on this work was published in 1933 after more than five years' work; we commented at the time that the report "formed a record of experiments with estuary models hitherto unparalleled, certainly in. this country, and not we believe, equalled in wealth of detail by any records published in other countries."

The principal model had a horizontal scale of 1 in 8500 and a vertical scale of 1 in 100; two problems especially discussed were the supply of silt and the effect of salinity.

Professor Gibson was concerned w1th the Severn model investigations and similar ones arising from them involving models of the Dee, Mersey, Humber and Parrett estuaries, for the rest of his professional life. The success which he had with the investigations has since proved significant in influencing future trends in hydraulic engineering and in research with tidal models.

Professor Gibson was a member of both the Institutions of Civil and Mechanical Engineers, and an LLD. of St. Andrews and of Manchester Universities. His published works include a number of papers before the learned societies, principally the Institution of Civil Engineers, and he was awarded the Ewing medal, a Telford premium, and a Crampton prize by that Institution.

1959 Obituary [2]

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