Skip to page contents


Nigel Kelland

(Royal School of Mines 1962 - 63)
I came for a degree and I won a wife!

I was a student at the Royal School of Mines (RSM) in 1962 studying for a DIC (Diploma of Imperial College) in the Department of Applied Geophysics, which could lead onto an MSc course in Geophysics. Being before the discovery of the North Sea hydrocarbon reserves, I was the only DIC student from the United Kingdom with my fellow students coming from Italy, Germany, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey and Ireland, as shown below, some having remained close friends with whom I am in regular contact.

Celebrating DIC awards, 1963

Photo right: Celebrating our DIC Awards - 1963
Khurshid Obaidullah, Nigel Kelland, Lucio Margherita, Erdogan Oray, Jerry Rogers, Name Unknown, Faisal Altamimi

It was a particularly interesting time to be studying at the Geophysics department with the research being carried out in support of the channel tunnel investigation under Professor Bruckshaw and the pioneering magnetic mapping by Professor Mason that played a crucial role in validating the evolving theory of Continental Drift.

The DIC class was a close knit group with strong friendships, which always develop on practical based academic courses that involve frequent field trips, as illustrated below during our surveying course in Porthleven, Cornwall.

DIC Field Surveying Course

Photo left: DIC Field Surveying Course
Jerry Rogers, Nigel Kelland, Erdogan Oray, Lucio Margherita, Mr W.A. Stepec, Mohammed Ashraf, Khurshid Obaidullah, Faisal Altamimi.

My two principal memories from this trip were using seven figure log tables to complete the surveying calculations (portable computers still being a way off dream) and the fascination of my Italian friend in the huge tidal movements that he had never witnessed in the bay of Naples!

I completed my MSc course sitting the final examinations in early 1965 following long hours of study and thesis writing in our room in the Geophysics Department with my friends from Iraq and Pakistan.

Final MSc Preparations

Photo right: Final MSc Preparations
Nigel Kelland, Faisal Altamimi, Khurshid Obaidullah

Some months after the start of my DIC course a young lady, Julia Childs, joined the department from the Geophysics Department at Cambridge University, working as a technician for Professor Mason. With her organisational and practical skills Julia’s duties expanded over the years, eventually to become the department secretary. Being well before the introduction of the personal computer, she was also in strong demand by PhD and MSc students throughout the RSM for both typing theses and using, first the old hand cranked Gestetner printer and later an electric one to print them, as well as preparation of the associated maps and figures. As the only available young lady in the RSM, Julia was in even stronger demand as a female partner at dances and visits to the theatre and cinema, with very strong competition for her company amongst the students. Matters came to a head as the annual RSM Christmas Ball in 1964 approached. I had been elected by my colleagues as the President of the Geophysics Society and I considered it my prerogative to be accompanied by the Department’s star attraction, as seen in the following photograph!

RSM Christmas Ball

Photo right: Julia Childs and Nigel Kelland at the RSM Christmas Ball – 1964

That was it, I had won the competition…. game, set and match! Romance quickly blossomed, which led to our marriage in January 1967 attended by a large contingent of RSM students, as seen below:

Wedding day
Photo above: RSM Best Man, Groom and Bride
Samuel Bullock, Nigel & Julia Kelland

Wedding guests
Photo right: RSM and Family Wedding Guests
Eileen, Tony Richardson, Robin Riddihough, Clive McCann, Fred Davey, Wei Ning Li

By the way..., I also managed to obtain my MSc degree!

  © 2007 Imperial College London

Past projects
The Centenary Campaign

Through the first decade of the twenty-first century the campaign seeks to philanthropically raise £207 million from Imperial’s alumni, staff and friends, and donations from charitable foundations and industry.

Where your support can make a difference
Give now
Staff & student portraits
Staff and student portraits

Imperial’s Centenary Year provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate members of the Imperial community.

View staff and student portraits