Neville Blyth (1896-1979) was born and educated in Edinburgh, then moved to Oxford University where he took a degree in Natural Sciences. After an early career as an industrial metallurgist he joined Imperial College as a lecturer in the Department of Metallurgy in 1949 and was appointed Senior Tutor in the Royal School of Mines in 1958. He retired in 1963.

Despite his severe physical handicap, Neville had a wide range of interests including languages, literature, history, and above all, music. He sang with the Oxford Bach Choir and also the Bach Choir in London. He was a dedicated supporter of music at Imperial, singing in the College choir for many years and taking a significant part in the organisation of the lunchtime concerts.

After Neville's death his widow Kitty, herself an artist, singer and violinist, maintained an interest in College music, and when she died in 1989 she left a substantial legacy to the College. It was this bequest which made possible the construction of the Blyth Centre.