Class of 1960 - 1969

Alexander Dennis Cross (Researcher and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry 1957-1960)

Alexander Dennis Cross (Researcher and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry 1957-1960)

29 March 1932 – 11 June 2018

Provided by Alexander’s son, James

Alex Cross passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on 11 June 2018. He was born and raised in Leicester, England, and went on to complete both a BSc and PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Nottingham. He later earned a DSc from Nottingham for his research in the fields of spectroscopy and stereochemistry.

As a Fulbright scholar, Alex spent from 1955-1957 as a chemistry post-doc at the University of Rochester in America. After several chilly winters in upstate New York, he decided to move back to London to spend three formative years (1957-1960) under the mentorship of Nobel Laureate, Sir Derek Barton, at Imperial College London. He served as a researcher and lecturer of organic chemistry, with a particular emphasis on scientific methods that also proved instrumental in his subsequent career in industrial research.

In 1960, Alex was recruited by Syntex Corporation to join a team of scientists in Mexico, including Drs. Rosenkranz, Zaffaroni, and Djerassi to develop and commercialize the first oral. He embarked on an 18-year tenure that culminated in the position of President of Syntex International Pharmaceuticals and Senior Vice President of Corporate Economic and Strategic Planning.

In 1979, Alex joined Zoecon Corporation where he assumed the role of President and CEO from 1984-85. From 1986 onward, he formed a biotech consultancy and served on the boards of more than 20 different companies. In the course of his career, Alex was a named inventor of 109 issued US patents and co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed research papers. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1966 at the age of 34 and lectured at more than 30 universities and institutions across five continents during his lifetime.

Alex is survived by his wife Antonia of 44 years, two sons Guy and James, three grandsons Nelson, Darcy and Mackenzie, and two brothers Peter and James.

Bill Newsom (Lecturer in Microbiology 1964-67)

1932 – 2018
Provided by Richard Newsom, Bill’s son.

Bill Newsom was educated at Rossall School (1945-50) and Cauis College (1950-53) where he developed a lifelong link to Cambridge. After undergraduate work, he attended the Westminster Hospital Medical School qualifying in 1956. He was appointed House Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he met his future wife, Rose Fisher. He then returned to the Westminster for house jobs and was appointed lecturer in Microbiology (1964-7) by Professor Lacy.

Once he had completed microbiology training in London and military service in the Far East, he again returned to Cambridge. He was appointed consultant microbiologist to Papworth and Addenbrooke’s Hospitals 1967. During his time in Cambridge, he became a leading authority on infective endocarditis and on infections complicating cardiac transplantation. He authored original work on laboratory safety and safety cabinets, evaluation of disinfectants, hospital infections and history of infection control. He was the first person to discover an important beta-lactamase enzyme, PSE-4, in Pseudomonas.

He published approximately 160 papers/editorials. He sat on several national and European committees for safety cabinets and hospital disinfection. He was particularly pleased to be at the forefront of antibiotic research, giving the first dose of cefuroxime and ciprofloxacin in the UK. He was a founder member of the Hospital Infection Society and was President from 1998-2002, being awarded their Gold Medal in 2013. He was also president of the Central Sterilising Club.

Bill was a supporter of Westminster/Imperial Medical School and cherished his lifelong friends and colleagues from his time there.

He will be remembered by generations of Cambridge medical students and laboratory technicians for his interesting and thoughtful lectures and by his colleagues and family for his generosity, kindness, faith and wise counsel.

He is survived by his wife Rose of 59 years, his sons Richard and David and five grandchildren.

Neil Watson (Meteorology 1960)

Provided by his wife, Margaret Watson

19.12.1937 - 21.03.2019

Born in England Neil spent his first 7 years in Australia. Returning to Manchester at the end of the war he was a pupil at Hulme Grammar School, Leeds University and Imperial College, London before a lifelong career in the Meteorological Office. He travelled extensively both for work and pleasure. A man of many sports he excelled at cricket, tennis, lacrosse, badminton and golf.

An easy-going and friendly man. He managed to keep his sense of humour even through the last 18 months of his battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife, son, daughter and 7 grandchildren.

The Reverend Doctor Richard Leslie Hills MBE (DIC History of Science and Technology 1964)

Provided by John Glithero


Richard L Hill

Richard Hills was born in 1936 in Lewisham in south London. His father Leslie was an Anglican vicar and his mother Margaret (Peggy) was a daughter of Sir John Ontario Miller, Home Secretary to the Governor of India. Peggy died of cancer when Richard was two years old and a year later Leslie was called up to serve as a chaplain in the war. Richard went to live with his Aunt Kathleen in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and later attended Charterhouse School in Surrey. Whilst there he became interested in engineering and nearly completed a model of Stephenson’s Invicta locomotive.

Richard was called up for National Service in 1955 and attained the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He went on to read history at Queens’ College, Cambridge. There he flirted with various vintage cars, including Alvises which he described as sturdy British bulldogs. He bought a 1924 Lancia Lambda which was ‘a rather elegant Italian lady’. Over the next 52 years he rebuilt it, ran it regularly and rallied it. He was an active member of the Mountaineering Society and also the Railway Club through which he was introduced to the narrow gauge lines of North Wales. After graduation he started a Diploma of Education course at Cambridge but his studies were interrupted by a climbing accident. Richard was an instructor for Outward Bound in The Lake District. He was leading a small party of boys on a climb on Needle Ridge on Great Gable when a boulder came loose, crushing his left leg. He nearly lost the leg through gangrene but it was eventually saved. During his year of convalescence he had many skin and bone grafts. In the periods between operations he would stay with Andre and Leslie Kenny at Long Melford where the Lancia was being restored. The Kenny’s were also helping to restore the 1831 steam engine at Stretham and whilst on a visit there with them Richard came across a trunk full of old records of the engine and the drainage of the fens. He wrote in his autobiography ‘They changed my life and my career’. He returned to Cambridge and completed his teaching diploma. He taught at various schools including Worcester College for the Blind. He then had the opportunity to study at Imperial College London and gained a Diploma in the History of Science and Technology through his thesis on fen drainage. This was the basis of the first of his fifteen books.

In 1965 Richard became a Research Assistant in The Department of the History of Science and Technology at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). His research in the textile industry led to his PhD and to his next book Power in the Industrial Revolution. Plans were being made by the Department for a new museum of science and industry. Richard was appointed Curator and set up The North Western Museum of Science and Industry. The first site was in Grosvenor Street, Manchester. In 1983 The Greater Manchester Development Corporation acquired the site of the first railway passenger station in the world on Liverpool Road and the Museum transferred to this site. He collected mill engines, textile machines, railway locomotives, machine tools and all manner of North West connected artefacts. He described the return of South African Railways Beyer-Garratt steam locomotive No. 2352 as ‘perhaps my greatest triumph’. His policy was to have demonstrations of many of the machines actually working. The numerous galleries were bustling with massive engines under steam, mules spinning cotton, looms weaving cloth etc. He made several 16mm films recording the last days of the textile industry in Lancashire. Richard was also involved with Quarry Bank Mill, Nether Alderley Mill and Dunham Massey Mill. At first Richard lived in Oak Cottages on the National Trust estate at Styal but moved to Stamford Cottage, a 17th century weaver’s cottage in Mottram in Longdendale, about ten miles east of Manchester. The original kitchen there was converted into an engineering workshop which contained lathes, a milling machine, a pillar drill etc. The attic housed a large collection of books on theology and the history of engineering, a drawing board, papermaking screens, model steam engines and his writing desk. Spinning wheels and looms were spread in other rooms throughout the house. A ‘lair’ was built for the Lancia.

The Manchester Development Corporation appointed an outside Director for The Museum. Richard and his colleagues continued to achieve extraordinary progress in setting up all the machinery. Richard left in 1984 due to overwork. He was then able research several areas of industrial history, including papermaking and windmills. His greatest academic work was his definitive three volume biography of James Watt. He was author of about 150 articles or papers. He continued to teach, lead hillwalking groups, and drive his beloved Lancia.

Richard had always been an active Christian. In 1985 he trained at St Deniol’s College, Hawarden, and was ordained as priest. He served in parishes in Urmston (Manchester) and Yarmouth before becoming Curate of Mottram.

In 2005 Richard was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Amongst the many people who helped him through this was Bernice Pickford, a member of the church at Mottram. She had been a food technologist at Hollins School of Catering in Manchester. She was very well known in Girl Guiding circles for her hard work and had been Divisional Commissioner. They got on very well together and were married in 2008. He was 71 and she a few years younger. They travelled a lot and were very happy together. However, Richard had to make concessions. No longer were there steam locomotive models on the kitchen table; a television set appeared in the lounge.

Richard had held many offices, including President of the International Association of Paper Historians, Chairman and Honorary President of British Association of Paper Historians, Chairman of the Manchester Regional Industrial Archaeology Society, Chairman of The Newcomen Society North Western Branch, President of the Manchester Association of Engineers and Warden of the Society of Ordained Scientists. He was made a Companion of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Honorary Member of several societies. He was awarded the Medal of Honour of the University of Manchester and in 2015 was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Sadly Richard was not strong enough to travel to Buckingham Palace. The Investiture was carried out by Warren Smith, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, in Mottram Parish Church. This had the benefit that many of his friends could be with Richard on this well-deserved occasion.

Richard was having problems co-ordinating movements in his legs. Parkinson’s disease was confirmed in 2011. They sold Stamford Cottage and moved to a bungalow about a mile away. Bernice was diagnosed with cancer and in 2016 she died in Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton-under-Lyne. The Parkinson’s disease caused Richard to become frailer and he died peacefully of pneumonia on 10 May 2019 at Willow Wood Hospice. Richard inspired many people during his lifetime. He was thorough and meticulous in all he did. He was always helpful and generous with his time. He was always willing to share his knowledge and always gave credit to those who helped him. He leaves behind a sister, a niece, three nephews, two step-daughters, many, many friends and a large literary legacy. Countless people will enjoy and learn from The Museum of Science and Industry for a long time hence.