Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Peter Thurston

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Dr. Peter Thurston (c1882-1964)

1964 Obituary [1]

Dr Peter Thurston, M.B.E., D.Sc. (Member), who was a Member of this Institution for 45 years, died in April aged 82.

Dr Thurston, who graduated in 1905, was the founder of aeronautical engineering education in Britain and it was largely due to his pioneering efforts at Queen Mary College, London, that this country was able to compete successfully in world markets in later years.

The first aeronautical laboratory was founded by Dr Thurston in 1909; much of the equipment was paid for out of his own pocket. During the five years that he was in charge of the laboratory, he worked on the aerodynamics of aerofoils and struts. In 1913 he became the first Doctor of Science in Aeronautics in Britain.

During the 1914-18 war, Dr Thurston served as an Inspector of Aeronautics and later he took charge of all safety and design matters at the Military Aircraft Directorate. In 1920 he began his life-long work as a patent agent and aeronautical consultant. But undoubtedly his greatest service to engineering and his country was his establishment of a university course in aeronautical engineering.

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