I was raised in the Yorkshire town of Pontefract where everyone worked in the ‘black stuff’ – men down t’pit at the Prince of Wales colliery and women made liquorice allsorts at Ewbank’s. The Swinton & Knottingley Railway was just 100 yards away so trainspotting was de rigour. History was my best subject at Pontefract Grammar but my wish to study archaeology was dashed when told that I couldn’t take 6th-form history having failed O-level Latin! Chemistry was my next highest mark so into the Science 6th and then on to read Chemistry at Exeter University.
After graduating I joined the Department of Medicine in St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London University, as a Research Assistant working on in-born errors of metabolism. A couple of years in London would be good I thought – still there 55 years later!
I was appointed Senior Lecturer, then Reader and in 1996 the country’s first Professor of BioAnalytical Science. I’ve published over 200 full papers, 3 books along with 2 patents, and 21 students have received their PhDs under my supervision. I have held many roles in the Royal Society of Chemistry. I retired in 2013 becoming Emeritus.
Having attended a short summer course on something called industrial archaeology in Croydon, which included a trip to Addington where two beam engines were pumping Croydon’s water, I discovered that IA nicely merged my interest in history with industrial Yorkshire. That autumn I joined an IA class taught by Denis Smith at Goldsmiths College. Denis persuaded most of the class to join GLIAS, the Newcomen Society and the new Association for Industrial Archaeology. Ollie, who I married, joined the class a year later. I was soon on the GLIAS committee, becoming Chair in 2011 and I am now GLIAS President. I was President of the Newcomen Society in 2007. In 1982 I helped organise the largest AIA summer meeting based in Imperial College. I was on the AIA Council from 1986 to 1998 and again from 2018 to the present, being elected your Chair in 2020.