In all directions: developments under Sir Henry's fourteen successors
|From: Wilson, H.E. Down to earth - one hundred and fifty years of the British Geological Survey. Edinburgh:Scottish Academic Press, 1985.|
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II In all directions: developments under Sir Henry's fourteen successors
Murchison was the epitome of the amateur geologist — a man of position and means who had travelled extensively and done significant geological research in England and Wales, as well as in Russia where he named the Permian System, having already been responsible for the Silurian and Devonian in Britain. He is described by Flett (p.58) as an excellent Director and it is probably true that he was a good figure-head, with entrée into the governing circles in London, and with it an enthusiastic geologist. Yet to most of his staff he was a remote figure. He was elevated to the status of Director-General in 1866 and his two able 'Local Directors' became Directors.
Clearly his tenure as head was ensured success by the competence of Ramsay in England and Wales, Jukes in Ireland and, after 1867, Geikie as Director of the new Edinburgh office — and probably by the presence, during his initial years in post, of Lyon Playfair who held office as Secretary of the Science and Art Department and Inspector-General of Government Museums and Schools of Science.
Murchison was, during his time as Director, apparently very much a headquarters man. He made one field visit to Ireland in 1856 when the weather was at its Irish worst, and subsequently commented to Ramsay: 'I really must declare that the geology of Ireland is the dullest …which I am acquainted with in Europe' and made the perceptive comment, still with relevance today, about his mainly local staff: …who are really good hard working youths who can stand a life no Englishman would tolerate'.
Murchison had greatly resented the transfer of the Department of Science and Art from the Board of Trade to the new Education Department of the Privy Council in 1856, but a Commission set up to report on the Murchison empire in 1862, comprising several distinguished names including C.E.Trevelyan, was favourable, and their attention was mainly directed to the "Metropolitan School of Science applied to Mining and the Arts" henceforth to be known as the Royal School of Mines. A Royal Commission on the 'matters relative to Coal in the United Kingdom', though it did not formally report until 1871, was undoubtedly instrumental in the large increase in staff allotted to the Survey in 1867-8 when the number of 'surveyors' was virtually doubled. At this time, too, a new intermediate rank of District Surveyor was introduced — two, Aveline and Bristow, in England, Hull in Scotland, and Du Noyer in Ireland. At last there was a promotion ladder but, in the way of the Civil Service, there was a trap which was to spring thirty years ahead. The new 'Assistant Surveyors' were entering a channel with a finite number of 'Surveyor' posts. Some were to be Assistants for a very long time.
In the pursuit of his ends Murchison did not mince matters in his communications with his masters in the Department of Science and Art. In his last annual report, for 1870, he recorded:
- I lament to be under the necessity of once again calling their Lordships' serious attention to the great inconvenience and necessary delay occasioned to the Survey by the want of sufficient office room in Jermyn Street (which is) exactly in the state it was 20 years ago though the number of surveyors had quadrupled!
And, anticipating a similar complaint a century later:
- Notwithstanding the large additional sum granted by the Treasury to the Map Office at Southampton for electrotyping and engraving the plates for the Geological Survey, the issue of the Maps to the public is still much retarded, not less than 47 Sheets of the English survey being at present detained in that office. I most earnestly hope that the delay which has so long occurred at Southampton may soon be lessened.
In Ireland Jukes (1811-1869), who had been lured to Dublin as Local Director by De la Beche in 1851 — and who had loathed his time there though he had run a tight ship — had managed to produce maps of half the country in spite of the steady drain of his most experienced staff to India in the wake of his predecessor, Oldham. In 1869 Jukes had what would be now described as a 'nervous breakdown' and had to be replaced. The post went to Edward Hull (1829-1917), District Surveyor in Scotland, though an Ulsterman by birth.
Murchison died in harness at the age of 79 in 1871 and was succeeded by the faithful Ramsay, who had carried most of the administrative load for the last sixteen years. Ramsay's command was reduced by the removal of the Royal School of Mines which was to be governed by a Council of the Professors, though Ramsay continued to lecture in the School for a further five years and was presumably on the governing body. His immediate concern, however, as Director-General, was the Survey, the Museum of Practical Geology, and the Mining Records Office. In the first it can be fairly said that he set the pattern which was to be followed for almost a century — primary mapping on the six-inches to one mile scale and publication of maps on the one-inch scale, with six-inch publication in the coalfields — spurred on presumably by the Coal Commission.
The zest for map publication, at the expense of the explanatory memoirs which should have accompanied them, is perhaps the major criticism we can make of Ramsay's term as Director General. Only in Ireland did Jukes and his successor, Hull, make sure that their men 'wrote-up' their notes before moving on to pastures new, and every one-inch sheet in Ireland has an accompanying 'Explanation' — some better than others but all at least useful.
Apart from Hull in Dublin, Ramsay had two other Local Directors — W.H.Bristow, who seems to have been a fairly solid, not to say stolid, citizen and Archibald Geikie who since 1867 had been Director in Edinburgh. Geikie, apart from the local Directorship, was the first Professor of Geology in the University of Edinburgh and, though an able geologist, was for thirty years undoubtedly the most unpopular man in the Survey. When Ramsay retired in 1881 Geikie (1835-1924) was appointed Director-General and moved to London. His arrogance — already well known to his Edinburgh staff — was immediately evident when he declared that he would continue to supervise Scotland, so no local Director was appointed there. In the following year, however, H.H. Howell was appointed Director in Scotland though he continued working in Newcastle until 1884.
Geikie was clearly under some pressure from the Government to complete the 'Geological Survey' as soon as possible, and some of his behaviour must have been occasioned by what he saw as his duty. His first priority was to complete the mapping of England and Wales which had been promised for 1884 and, while this was accomplished, most of the field survey was on the one-inch scale and little effort was devoted to the sheet memoirs.
In Scotland the Midland Valley had been largely covered by six-inch scale mapping and work was now proceeding in the Highlands where Geikie directed that the field men were to work on one-inch maps to expedite the Survey. (He gave the same instructions for the drift survey in Hampshire which provoked the Whitaker Memorials in 1884 (p.103). In Scotland it is said that field men bought their own six-inch maps and transferred lines to the one-inch sheets provided.
In Ireland Hull and his men were on the last lap of the primary survey, conducted almost entirely on the six-inch scale, and here only the internecine battle between Hull and G.H.Kinahan disturbed the progress in Hume Street.
With Howell's move to Scotland in 1884 Geikie transferred five of his English field staff to Edinburgh, including three who were to make international reputations in the Highlands — W.Gunn, C.T.Clough and G.Barrow. The disposition of his field staff was then as follows:
When Bristow retired as Director for England and Wales in 1888 Howell was made Senior Director for Great Britain, though he remained in Edinburgh and Geikie presided in Jermyn Street. Poor Howell can have had only a frustrating time — he was not allowed to interfere in the Highlands, which Geikie kept to himself, and in the South of England W. Whitaker and H.B. Woodward seem to have reported directly to the great man. Howell was only allowed to finish off the work in the North of England and supervise the part-time activities of Peach and Horne in the Southern Uplands.
Hull retired in 1890 and the Dublin office was reduced to a holding operation with Nolan retained as Senior Geologist and most of the staff pensioned off or transferred to Scotland. Geikie had now reduced his senior staff to one Director, (Howell, immured in the Sheriffs Court in Edinburgh), two district Surveyors (Whitaker and Peach) and one Senior Geologist. Megalomania had taken over.
There is no doubt that Geikie was a remarkable character — he toured extensively every year and his literary output was prodigious, though his staff tended to regard much of this as plagiarism. He apparently regarded the right to publish the findings of his staff as a kind of 'droit de seigneur'.
When Howell retired at the age of 65 in 1899, Geikie was left with no Directors and only two District Surveyors as against three Directors and four District Surveyors when he was appointed. He was then sixty-four and apparently impregnable — but among his staff of seventeen Geologists and seventeen Assistant Geologists feelings were running high. Not only was promotion to higher rank blocked, but of the Assistant Geologists some had been 'Temporary' for as long as twenty-five years, with no assurance of a pension, or, indeed, of continued employment after the end of the next month, while some had been 'Assistants' for thirty-five years.
How this small number of staff were able to influence parliamentary opinion is not clear, but questions were asked and a 'Memorial' was presented by the staff — including, apparently, the most senior of Geikie's lieutenants — to the President of the Board of Education, asking for an enquiry. In April 1900 the President appointed a committee to:
- enquire into the organisation and staff of the Geological Survey and Museum of Practical Geology: to report on the progress of the survey since 1881 [the date of Geikie's assumption of the Directorship General]:- to suggest the changes in staff and the arrangements necessary for bringing the Survey in its more general features to a speedy and satisfactory termination, having regard especially to its economic importance; and further, to report on the desirability or otherwise of tranferring the Survey to another public department.
The Committee was chaired by J. L. Wharton, MP, and included W. T. Blanford, former Director of the Geological Survey of India, and Charles Lapworth, Professor at Birmingham and at this time perhaps the most respected British geologist. Clearly they were not appointed to whitewash Geikie — it is interesting to speculate who was 'out to get him', apart from his staff — and in the result the Committee reported at the end of September 1900, accepting the grievances of the staff and recommending a package of reforms.
The post of Director-General was to be abolished, the head of the organisation to be the Director: 'England and Wales' and 'Scotland' should each have an 'Assistant to the Director'; there should be seven District Geologists, five in charge of field units and two Specialists (Palaeontologist and Petrographer); all lower graded scientific staff should be Geologists, on a graded pay-scale and there should be a substantial increase in pay and allowances.
One can imagine the glee and satisfaction of the staff — and the fury of Archie G. , publicly humiliated by this criticism of his stewardship. In fairness he was under some pressure to complete the 'Survey' and wind down the organisation, and he had strongly supported an appeal by his temporary Assistant Geologists for establishment and promotion, sent to the Treasury in 1896, but his whole style of management had been autocratic and dictatorial and there were few tears when he finally retired in February of the following year, 1901. With the accession to the Directorship of Jethro Justinian Teal! (1849-1924) and the promotion to the posts of Assistants to the Director of H B Woodward (1848-1914) in England and John Horne (1848-1928) in Scotland the organisational shape of the Survey was set for over half a century. Each Assistant to the Director — the rank was changed to Assistant Director within a few years because of its 'ambiguity' — had two District Geologists under him and Teall set great store on team efforts, recasting the annual Summary of Progress to record work on a District basis. He also accepted, as appendices to the Summary, short papers on original topics by his staff.
From this time, too, the Director insisted that field staff must spend the winter at headquarters — London, Edinburgh or Dublin and ended the system which had field men living permanently in remote isolation. Clearly Teall, the first Survey Officer to hold the rank of Petrographer and appointed only thirteen years before, in 1888, had a very clear view of what had gone wrong and how to remedy it. Certainly his reorganised Survey stood the test of time. Oddly enough there is no very clear view of the man himself in the records. Probably only people who evoke strong hate or affection are immortalised in the kind of folk-legend which castigates Geikie. Teall was just a good Director!
In 1899 the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act had established a new Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Dublin. One of the provisions of this Act transferred to the new Department the 'powers and duties of the Department of Science and Art in relation to public buildings or institutions in Ireland'. During a visit to Dublin in 1900 Geikie had talked to Gill, Secretary to the new Department, who had raised the question of the transfer of the Geological Survey of Ireland to the DATI, but Geikie had objected and in an exchange of memoranda they had agreed to let the matter rest, though Geikie had suggested that the Department could usefully undertake 'the economic side of geology — soil maps, advice to local authorities on building sites, investigation of building materials, etc'.
In 1902 the Consultative Committee on the Geological Survey, established as a result of the Wharton Report, held its first meeting.
One of the nominated members was the Hon H Plunkett, representing the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, who was unable to attend the meeting but sent the Secretary a long letter demanding clarification of the Wharton recommendation that the Geological Survey of Ireland should remain part of the Survey of the UK only until the Drift survey had been completed, when the responsibility for keeping the maps up to date should be transferred to the DATI. Plunkett did not agree with the proposed run-down and implied that if this was London policy DATI would want to take over the Irish Branch. The Department of Science and Art, tongue in check, replied that the Hume Street staff were neither 'a public building nor an institution' and disagreed about the transfer.
It was Teall who reopened the matter in 1904 when he wanted to bring G. W. Lamplugh (1859-1926), who was District Geologist in Dublin and leading the drift revision, back to replace Fox-Strangways in the Midlands. He pointed out that at the present rate it would take over a century to revise the whole of Ireland and the results would not justify it. Also, because of Geikie's 'arrangement' in 1900, the Department of Agriculture were dealing with economic enquiries and had appointed an 'Economic Geologist' to its staff ‑ presumably working with Grenville Cole, Professor of Geology in the Royal College of Science for Ireland. There were, in effect, two separate geological organisations in Ireland and Teall suggested that either the Survey should deal with all geological work including economic enquiries or that all the functions of the Survey should be transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
The Board of Education and the Department of Agriculture agreed that the second option was preferred and on 1 July the former wrote to the Treasury asking for permission to transfer the four geologists and three ancillaries. With typical Treasury caution they were told that staff should only be seconded for a limited period and 'it would be preferable not to make the tranfer until the work on the drifts has been definitely wound up'. Also they did not think it necessary to fill the District Geologist post if Lamplugh was moved.
Teall argued that there must be a DG if the work was to continue and poor Lamplugh, who had been told in the spring to move on 1 August, was told on 28 July to stay put. In September he wrote to Teall pointing out fairly forcefully that he was sitting with his belongings packed, his children removed from schools, his lease terminated and, he asked, what was happening? He was finally allowed to move in October.
In December the Treasury agreed to transfer the seven staff and, after a lot of shilly-shallying about details, Teall attended 14 Hume Street on 1 April 1905 to hand over 'the documents related to the survey', whatever they were, to T. P. Gill, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the involvement of GSGB in Ireland was suspended for forty-two years — though W. B. Wright was 'lent' to the Irish Survey for coalfield work during World War I.
For the rest of Tea11's stewardship the organisation he had planned remained in operation, with two Assistant Directors and five District Geologists, plus the Petrographer (raised to DG rank in 1903) and Palaeontologist. This system continued during Strahan's directorship, though senior posts falling vacant during World War I were not filled until the fourteen geologists who had joined the forces had returned.
When Teall retired in 1914 he was succeeded by Aubrey Strahan (1852-1928) who had been on the staff since 1875 — and had been one of the victims of Geikie's promotion trap, having been a 'Temporary Geologist' for twenty-one years. He was clearly a respected chief, but, as with Teall, there is little personal legend about him. His was a difficult period, with a large proportion of his small staff in the army and pressing demands for information on the indigenous mineral resources of the Kingdom. His response, the new series of Special Reports on the Mineral Resources of Great Britain, was the first serious attempt by the Survey to react quickly to a national need.
Strahan retired in 1920 and was succeeded by a very different character — John Smith Flett (1869-1947), known to his staff as 'Black John'. Flett had been Petrographer since 1901 when he was 'recruited' from Edinburgh University, and had been Assistant to the Director, in charge of the Edinburgh Office, since 1911. He was a larger-than-life character who had graduated in medicine but because he was congenitally deaf, had switched to geology. He had taught petrology at Edinburgh University before he joined the Survey. His daughter remembers him as a domestic tyrant whose deafness cut him off from his family.
In 1920-22, after the transfer, in 1919, of the Survey to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research arid the report of the Coal Conservation Committee, there was a major increase of staff, with sixteen new scientific staff and twelve posts of District Geologist rank — six in England,three in Scotland, plus the Petrographer, Palaeontologist and the 'Curator and Librarian', a new post for McLintock, the ex-Assistant Curator who had been in the Royal Scottish Museum since 1911. This organisation, with a few temporary abberrations, lasted for another twenty-five years. To speed up the revision of the maps of the English coalfields Flett established four district offices in Newcastle, Manchester, Whitehaven and York, much against the wishes of some of his senior staff. Similarly, much against the wishes of the Edinburgh staff, Flett instituted an annual attachment of English field men to work in the Scottish Highlands during the brief Highland field seasons, between the spring snows and the August shooting season.
In this, as in many other ways, Flett ran the Survey as an autocrat. In England he regularly took early trains to York and Manchester on Saturday mornings, arriving at these out-offices to demand a roll-call of his minions.
Though Flett was not loved he was certainly respected, particularly for his success in getting the new Exhibition Road Museum from the long-projected ideal to its construction. He was also responsible for the revitalization of the Water Supply Memoirs, and for the initiation of work on geophysics.
Wilfrid (Jim) Edwards remembers field inspections in Orkney by Flett, whose father had been an Orcadian fisherman and whose brother was Mayor of Kirkwall, as a kind of triumphal progress, with all the locals coming to pay their respects to 'Sir John'.
No explanation has been uncovered for one of Flett's earliest orders, distributed to London office geologists and DGs in 1921:
- Officers of the Survey are forbidden to receive young women in their private rooms after office hours and when the offices are otherwise vacant. Officers' wives, sisters and daughters are exempt. Warders have strict instructions to report immediately any breach of this regulation.
Flett retired after the opening of the new Museum and the centenary celebrations and was succeeded by Bernard Smith (1881-1936) who had been on the staff since 1906. Poor Smith lasted only ten months before dying suddenly in August in 1936. He was remembered with affection by those who knew him as a pleasant, unaffected man, a good geologist who ruled the post-war ex-servicemen in the Whitehaven office with a rod of iron. He joined the Survey 'with no thought of promotion' and when he was Director he told C. J. Stubblefield, then on the Council of the Geological Society, that he did not wish to be President of the Society while he was Director. His sudden demise was a great loss to the Survey.
After a period when McClintock acted as locum, Smith was succeeded as Director by E. B. Bailey, who had been in the Scottish office for thirty years but had left for the Chair of Geology at Glasgow University in 1930.
Bailey was in the great tradition of English eccentrics. He was described by Aubrey Strahan as an 'inverted dandy' because of his appearance when he visited London — hatless, a fisherman's jersey, shorts and stout brogues. He was said to have once entered Fortnum and Masons and demanded a half-penny worth of salt, and other legends about him were legion — his habit in the field of leaping into the first stream he saw to get his boots soaked, which avoided any later reluctance to getting his feet wet; his naked plunges into Highland burns on the coldest days to emphasise his 'machismo', his habit, on leaving his lodgings with a packed lunch, of sitting down about half an hour out and saying 'Let's eat it now and get it over with'.
He had lost an eye winning the M.C. in France and was subsequently given the irreverent nickname 'Cyclops'. On one occasion Welch, himself a fairly forcible character, put his head into one of the rooms in Exhibition Road and demanded loudly 'Has anyone seen old Cyclops', failing to observe that Trotter, who was also monocular, was in the room. The results were dramatic. Trotter was not given to diplomacy either — he was reputed to have remarked, after relieving himself against a tree in the field, 'That's what I think of your mapping!'.
Flett and Bailey were married to sisters — Orcadians — and had worked together when Flett was in charge of the Edinburgh Office from 1911-1920. The mutual antipathy which developed during this period grew to become a long-standing feud. To their wives they were said to refer to each other as 'your brother- in-law'. While
Flett referred to Bailey as 'mad', Bailey tried to provoke his Director in every way — geological and administrative. On one occasion, angered by the demand for some return, he telegraphed London for '100 sheets of lunch paper', referring to the ample proforma which clearly had more than one use.
As Bailey details in his history, things reached a climax in the late 1920s over what he regarded as 'Scientific Liberty'. Flett had, since his days in Edinburgh, insisted that all publications by Survey staff, whether on official work or private research, should be submitted for the Director's approval. This Bailey regarded as persecution because he, totally committed to geology in his own as well as official time, had studied the existing field maps for critical areas worth re-examination, and subsequently spent his leave on this. Flett's paranoia can be judged from his order that field maps, freely available to the general public, were only to be shown to Survey staff with his permission! It was at this point that Bailey left for the chair of Geology at Glasgow University.
When he returned as Director he obtained the promotion of McLintock to the new post of Deputy Director to allow him to depute all the administrative chores. He stopped the practice of English field staff being moved to the Highlands for summer work and established, for the first time, a rational District organisation for the country. Until 1937 'District Geologists' were responsible for only the area on which their men were working, which sometimes had produced such eccentricities as the 'Forest of Dean and Cumberland Unit'. Bailey divided England and Wales into six districts and gave each of his District Geologists responsibility for all that happened in his whole barony — not just the limited areas of mapping. This system proved effective, with occasional modifications of district boundaries, for the next forty-five years.
In 1936 the first non-field Survey unit, save for the historic Palaeontologist's and Petrographer's outfits, was established — the Water Department. Bailey also set about closing the district offices, of which he strongly disapproved. York was closed in 1938 but Manchester and Newcastle survived, largely due to the tenacity of their staffs (See p.65).
World War II, like its predecessor, caused a great deal of disturbance to the mapping programme, which had been the main reason for the existence of the Survey for a century. McLintock summarised the wartime achievements of the Survey in the first post-war report of the Geological Survey Board, as did Bailey in his history (1952). Most of the work was concerned with indigenous raw materials — iron ore, bauxite, glass sand, feldspar, mica — together with an intensification of work on groundwater and coal and the first investigations into sources of radio-active minerals.
The war prevented the fulfilment of Bailey's plans for the Survey but he instituted the Bulletin series of publications to succeed and develop the former Part II of the Summary of Progress. He spent long hours editing the mimeographed Wartime Pamphlets and drafting the northern sheet of the Ten-mile Geological Map of Great Britain, though this was not published till after his retirement.
Bailey was regarded by his contemporaries with a mixture of amusement and contempt for his eccentric behaviour, though with respect, tempered with exasperation, for his scientific achievements. Unhappily, he so alienated some of his senior staff that they boycotted his farewell presentation.
When Bailey retired in 1945 he was succeeded by William Francis Porter McLintock. McLintock's regime was certainly a milestone in G.S.M's. history. The rehabilitation of the Museum and office had to be effected and the dispersed collections and library had to be reassembled. Staff recruitment and publication of Maps and Memoirs was resumed.
The International Geological Congress, originally planned for 1940 with McLintock as Secretary, was held in 1948, with Butler, his successor as Curator, acting as Joint Secretary, Eastwood as Excursions Secretary and with many GSM officers leading excursions.
On McLintock's accession the post of Deputy Director was reduced to that of a third Assistant Director and was filled by James Phemister, Petrographer since 1935 and a Scot, like McLintock. The law of the Scottish Succession' was commented on rather bitterly by English staff — though, in fact, T.H. Whitehead, an Englishman, had succeeded Murray Macgregor in Edinburgh, to the loud public protests of Archie Lamont, a well known Scottish nationalist and geologist!
McLintock was a dour Scot who was regarded with respect by his junior staff, despite his biting tongue, but with some askance by his contemporaries because of what they regarded as his failure to pull his weight during the war. In the post-war period, however, he was an effective and resolute Director who kept DSIR in check and retained the autonomy of the Directorship during a period when the future of an independent Survey was at risk. Though awarded a C.B. in 1951 he was the first Director, save for the short-lived Smith, not to be knighted. Some say that his acid tongue influenced his masters; some that he tried too hard. In the 1930's a somewhat evangelical member of the then Curator's staff retired and in his farewell speech referred to McLintock as having a heart 'black as the ace of spades'!
By the end of McLintock's reign the Survey had returned to its pre-war pattern of basic mapping, the only new feature being the Special Investigation Division (see p.163) headed by Charles Davidson. The Director had three Assistants — one in Scotland, one in charge of fieldwork in most of England and Wales, a third responsible for the Museum, Petrology, Palaeontology, S.E. England, Northern Ireland and Administration — and twelve District Geologists.
When McLintock retired in 1950 it seemed probable that Phemister would succeed him, for he had been the administrative lynch-pin for the last five years, but the law of the Scottish succession had been overturned and that of the Welsh had come into force. Presumably the new Director was selected by the Secretary of D.S.I .R. after consultation with the Geological Survey Board and its Chairman, Sir Arthur Trueman (1894-1953), then Professor of Geology at Glasgow. Perhaps the presence on the Board of Phemister's brother, Prof. T. C. Phemister, was a contra-indication; perhaps the anti-Scots lobby was able to make its voice heard; maybe the influence of O. T. Jones, Professor at Cambridge, was effective; but to the astonishment of the staff the new incumbent was named as William John Pugh (1892-1974), Professor at Manchester.
For Pugh the transition to London was an opportunity to take a greater share in the activities of the geological 'establishment'. He came with the reputation of being an administrator, having been Deputy Vice Chancellor at Manchester, but most of his junior staff found him a remote and somewhat pompous figure, who made relatively little impression. He had the incubus, for the first two years, of Phemister as his senior Assistant Director, but when Stubblefield replaced the latter in 1953 he found Pugh a conscientious Director who did what he could to uphold the Survey's traditions. Pugh initiated the primary six-inch survey of the Cheshire Saltfield — astonishingly this important area had never been surveyed in any detail — including a drilling programme supervised by F M Trotter (1897-1968), District Geologist in Manchester, which revealed that the Cheshire salt reserves were at least twice the previous estimates.
In 1952 the head of the Water Department was raised to District Geologist rank, but with the resignation of K.C. Dunham from the post of Petrographer in 1949 that role was filled for a decade at a lower grade. In Scotland a new Field Unit was formed in 1952 when the Lowlands Unit was divided, but when Archie MacGregor was promoted to Assistant Director in that year his post as District Geologist of the Highlands and Islands Unit was not filled and the unit was headed by a Principal Geologist for five years.
In 1957 a new Assistant Director (W.N. Edwards) was appointed to control the field work in the North of England and the regional office which was opened in Leeds in 1959. The post of Curator of the Museum was divorced from that of the Assistant Director in the same year and the Curator henceforth ranked as a SPSO. In 1959 the incumbent Petrographer (P A Sabine) was up-graded to the traditional rank of District Geologist, but it was 1962 before the head of geophysics (W Bullerwell) was elevated to this rank as Chief Geophysicist.
After Pugh's retirement in 1960 the Department returned to an internal promotion and he was succeeded by C.J. Stubblefield. Stubbie, as he was universally known, had joined the Survey in 1928 as a field geologist, but a vacancy in the Palaeontology Department arose because of Pringle's return to Edinburgh and he spent the next twenty-four years in that unit, starting in the room in Jermyn Street which had been used by Lyon Playfair and Huxley seventy years earlier. He had been Chief Palaeontologist from 1947 to 1953 and Assistant Director from 1953 to 1960. He was the first serving Survey officer since Lamplugh, thirty years earlier, to be President of the Geological Society (1958-1960).
Cyril James Stubblefield was the first Director save, perhaps, Teall and Strahan, who could be described as egalitarian. He knew all his staff, and their peccadillos, and was closely involved in the whole work of the Survey, even to checking the editing of their publications! It is probably true to say that Stubbie was known and respected by everyone in the organisation and he was the last Director who had control of the small traditional Geological Survey of Great Britain.
In 1963 a new field unit was created to cover work in North Wales, and in 1964 the first special merit promotion to Senior Principal Scientific Officer was awarded to R Casey, who, starting at the lowest grade of unqualified assistant, had become a world authority on the palaeontology of the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary.
Apart from this special promotion and the creation of three new DG posts, two in specialist units, there had been little change in organisation since 1920. Times, however, were changing.
In 1965 D.S.I.R. was dissolved and replaced by a number of Research Councils (p.40). The Geological Survey found itself under the control of the new Natural Enviroment Research Council and, following the recommendations of the Brundrett Committee (p.146) was amalgamated with the Overseas Geological Surveys. The combined organization was renamed 'The Institute of Geological Sciences' on 26th March 1966.
To Stubblefield fell the difficult task, as first Director of the new organization, of effecting the marriage of two disparate and reluctant bodies and, simultaneously, coping with a new and uncertain Research Council. It is to his credit that the new grouping which evolved was as cohesive as it proved to be. When he retired at the end of 1966 it was the end of an era.
He was succeeded by Kingsley Charles Dunham who had left the Survey in 1950 for the Chair of Geology in Durham. Dunham was a very extrovert character who had been much involved in geological 'politics' over the previous decade as a member of the Geological Survey Board, President of the Geological Society, a member of the Council for Scientific Policy, and a council member of the Royal Society. He became Director at the time when the 'white heat of technical innovation', as propounded by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, was at its peak and, for a few years, Government funding of scientific projects allowed a dramatic increase in scientific work, including geological research.
The assimilation of the home and overseas surveys continued, a number of outside groups, particularly in geophysics, were incorporated, and the effects of commissioned research began to be significant in the early years of the Dunham era.
In 1968 Steve Buchan was made Deputy Director and the new Divisional organisation of IGS had four field divisions — two in England and Wales, one in Scotland and Northern Ireland and one Overseas — and three specialist divisions — Geochemical, Geophysical and Mineral Resources, — plus Museum, Hydrogeological, Palaentological and Petrographical Departments and, a legacy from Overseas Geological Surveys, an Editorial and Publications Unit. At this stage Overseas Division and Mineral Resources Division were headed by Senior Principal Scientific Officers, the old District Geologist grade having been incorporated into the Scientific Civil Service grading.
Since the end of DSIR the Geological Survey Board had disappeared but for five years there was an outside 'buffer' between the Director and NERC in the form of a Geology and Geophysics Advisory Committee, until it was abolished in 1970. In 1971 Dunham established a Director's Advisory Committee of representatives from Industry, the Universities and Government Departments, to monitor IGS programmes. This group of distinguished and influential people was a useful forum for discussion but had no teeth, and no influence with NERC, who were,increasingly intolerant of outside advice.
In 1969 the Head of Overseas Division was raised to Assistant Director rank and in 1972 a seventh AD post was approved as Head of a new Special Services Division, which included the four separate departments mentioned above, while the Head of Mineral Resources Division became an Assistant Director in 1973, when a new Mineral Statistics and Economics Unit was formed to join the existing Mineral Intelligence and Mineral Assessment Units.
In 1974 the two Continental Shelf Units were transferred from their Field Divisions to the Geophysics Division, now retitled Continental Shelf and Geophysics, but this only lasted until 1976 when the Shelf Units and Marine Geophysics were transferred to a new Continental Shelf Division. At the same time the Special Services Division was broken up. Hydrogeology and the remaining geophysical units became Geophysics and Hydrogeology Division, Petrology was transferred to the Geochemistry and Petrography Division, and the Museum joined Mineral Resources in a retitled Minerals Strategy and Museum Division.
The euphoria of the early years of Dunham's directorate began to cool with the implementation of the Rothschild 'reforms' and by 1973 he was spelling out, in his Annual Report, the dangers of the new system of commissioned research as applied to IGS:
The transfer of additional programmes could only bring under their (outside Departmental sponsors) control parts of the basic or "strategic" work of the Institute, a possibility not really contemplated in the White Paper.
In his final report, for 1975, Dunham said: 'it is important that this process should not be carried so far that the whole health of the organisation is threatened, as it would be if the whole programme had to be devoted to short term ad hoc investigations' — and, the first published comment on the new dispensation, the complexities of financing call for an excessive emphasis upon financial rather than technical control, and upon administrative direction rather than on scientific leadership'.
Dunham was a good Director whose initial enthusiasm for a much more comprehensive organisation was quenched by the realisation that the commercial outlook forced upon his extended Survey was going to be painful, if not traumatic.
Dunham was succeeded in 1976 by Austin Woodland who had been Deputy Director since 1971. Woodland was a traditional field geologist who had spent many of his early years mapping the South Wales Coalfield and whose evidence was important in the enquiry into the Aberfan disaster in the sixties. He was not wholly sympathetic with some of the directions in which the Institute had expanded over the previous decade and left NERC headquarters in no doubt about his views.
Woodland felt strongly that those parts of I.G.S. output which were of most value to the national geological archive were the traditional publications of the Field Survey — the maps and memoirs which will always be of value to the engineers, miners and planners of Britain. His main effort during his directorship was to maintain this base against the attacks on traditional mapping by a NERC increasingly obsessed by repayment work. The 'Consortium' of Departments funding the Geological Survey of Great Britain was maintained during his term in office and he was able to keep the field programme at a steady level. The relentless pressure for more contract work continued, however, and this process reached its nadir in the late 1970s when over 80% of the work carried out by the Institute was commissioned.
Perhaps Woodland's major organizational bequest was the Deep Geology Unit, established in 1977. It was funded from the scanty 'Science Vote' and made up of geologists and geophysicists transferred from existing units and recruited because of theirexperience in fundamental research. The intention was to have a multi-disciplinary group which would exploit the increasing flow of data on hydrocarbon exploration held by I.G.S. on behalf of the Department of Energy, and employ the expertise of such units as Global Seismology, Geomagnetism and Metalliferous Minerals and Applied Geochemistry in the study of the deep structure of the United Kingdom, with particular regard to hydrocarbon, geothermal and metallic mineral potential.
The new unit has been notably successful under its successive heads, W A Read and Alf Whittaker — with perhaps too large a proportion of its work commissioned by the Department of Energy. Though this work was of high quality it was based on confidential information and could not be published immediately, with the result that the excellent research efforts of the staff were not publicised. In 1983 the restructuring of the organisation divided the unit into two groups, responsible to two different Programme Directors, and its full potential has yet to be seen.
One of the most traumatic events of Woodland's Directorate was the sudden death in office of Bill Bullerwell late in 1977. Bullerwell had been the first geophysicist in the organisation, the first Chief Geophysicist and the successor as Deputy Director in 1976 to Steve Buchan. He was a man with a profound knowledge of the organisation and his departure was a significant loss at a crucial period. He was succeeded as Deputy Director by Peter Sabine, formerly Petrographer and latterly Head of the Geochemistry Division.
The formation in 1977 of the Deep Geology Unit occasioned yet another regrouping, for it was joined in a new Special Surveys Division by the Metalliferous Minerals and Applied Geochemistry Unit, Industrial Minerals Assessment Unit and Engineering Geology Unit.
In 1979 Woodland was succeeded as Director by Professor George Malcolm Brown, a distinguished geochemist who had been head of the Geology Department at Durham University — the third post-war Directoral appointment from outside the organisation.
There was a period of organisational stability until 1982, when the post of Chief Geophysicist, in abeyance since the death of Bullerwell in 1977, was revived and a new Geophysics Division appeared, with the disappearance of the Special Surveys Division, the component units of which were dispersed into other divisions, including a new 'Environmental and Deep Geology' Division.
In 1983 a second Deputy Director, George Innes Lumsden, hitherto Assistant Director in Scotland, was appointed and at the end of the year the whole concept of Divisional organisation disappeared with the introduction of a system of 'matrix management', planned to be flexible 'in response to changes in emphasis of the science and in the character of the Institute's programmes'.
Under the Director and his two Deputies (the only titles remaining from the past), four Programme Directors, three Chief Scientists, and a Head of Information and Central Services are responsible for the activities of the British Geological Survey, as the organisation was renamed on 1 January 1984.
The Chief Geologist, Chief Geochemist and Chief Geophysicist are responsible for overall standards in their subjects, for career management of the staff and for special research groups, while the Programme Directors control Regional Geological Surveys and similar field-orientated programmes on land in the UK, work on the Continental Shelf and overseas. Individual programmes are led by Programme Managers or Group Managers who may be SPSOs or PSOs.
The evolution of this system was a protracted process with, one must assume, a good deal of infighting among the Assistant Directors. It also produced a degree of interference from NERC headquarters which exceeded even their usual norm and this they compounded by their financial stringency. The result is a period of disillusionment and low morale among all levels of staff which must have no equal save, perhaps, in the last years of the Geikie regime. No Director in the whole history of the Survey can have had such a thankless and frustrating period in office as Malcolm Brown, most of whose hopes and expectations have, up to the time of writing in late 1984, been inhibited by the constraints of outside control.
The achievements of the last five years deserve record, however. The centralization of the greater part of the Survey on the Keyworth campus has been carried through with much less bloodshed than had been anticipated: the concept of multidisciplinary regional surveys has been realized, though inhibited by financial restraints, in East Anglia, North Wales and Cumbria; and the ideal of a national geological data archive, readily accessible, has been set on course.