Reporter 406, 22 September 1997

ARTHUR CHADWICK 5 September 1932 - 13 May 1997


'If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the earth and everything that's in it,
. . .'

Arthur Chadwick never wasted a second. Not because he was following some moral precept like that of Kipling but because he was endowed by nature through his parents with unbounded intellectual curiosity and with the vast resources of mental and physical energy necessary to satisfy it. Not that he ever succeeded in satisfying his curiosity. No one does. But he proceeded further towards his goal than most of us do.

Arthur was interested in 'the earth and everything that's in it', passionately so. That means: he was immersed in both the sciences and the humanities. The whole of his life attests these parallel and interlocking interests.

Professional Life

Arthur was born and brought up in Gomersal and latterly in Bingley in West Yorkshire. He gained a West Riding County Scholarship at age 11 to go to Bingley Grammar School. Next a West Riding Major County Scholarship enabled him to enter the University of Bristol in 1951 to study zoology with chemistry and botany. As undergraduate and postgraduate for six years (1951 - 1957) he made the city of Bristol his home. Continuing to flourish academically he earned himself scholarships to support postgraduate research. His Ph.D. and earliest publications, in 1960 and 1961, were on the protozoa, the oldest and simplest forms of animal life. He proceeded to earn himself postdoctoral research appointments. These entailed in 1957 relocation to the University of Reading and the associated National Institute for Research in Dairying, and radical change of direction of his research. Fascinating as protozoa were, Arthur, always a realist, acknowledged that few funds were likely to be channelled into that particular area of biological research. Like all good Darwinian organisms he adapted to a changing environment. He accepted a postdoctoral appointment, funded successively by the Melville Trust and the British Empire Cancer Campaign, to explore the exciting new field of endocrinology. Hence at Reading Arthur's important early work on fundamental aspects of the physiology of the human pituitary hormone, prolactin, and on mammalian, including human, breast cancer, the first publication of which work was in the medical journal, The Lancet. Soon back in his home territory after his appointment in 1961 as lecturer in zoology in the University of Leeds he broadened the scope of his endocrinological work. By 1967 Arthur had achieved significant public acknowledgement within the zoological community for his important identification of prolactin-like substances in the lower vertebrates, and in particular in fishes. Thereafter came further work on the chemical nature of some pituitary hormones, which was the subject of an invited article published in 1970 in the leading scientific journal, Nature. Later still Arthur's interests focused on avian endocrinology. When research grants from the Agricultural Research Council were forthcoming, Arthur's experimental work became concerned primarily with poultry. A stream of articles continued to emerge on these subjects throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, earning Arthur promotion successively to Senior Lecturer in 1974 and Reader in 1984. What pleased him most was the accolade of the D.Sc. which his alma mater Bristol conferred on him in 1983 in recognition of his fundamentally important contributions to the advancement of biological research.

His understanding of biology was the informing principle of Arthur's thought about the world, and indeed about the universe. In terms of our world Arthur tended, like many biologists, to view the purpose of human life in rather bleak terms; it had no higher function than that of any other living entity: the perpetuation of the species. The life of the individual, perceived locally as important of course, was trivial in universal terms.

Arthur's Other Lives: Making, Collecting, Playing, Flying

Yet Arthur by his life seemed at all times determined to give the lie to any view that depreciated human aspiration, endeavour, and achievement. Concurrently with his professional biological research he devoted his immense energies and abilities to a practical realization and celebration of the intellectual and practical life of mankind in all its manifold richness. He was always active, always thinking, always doing.

Making. Sometimes he was making things: it might be musical instruments, necklaces, photographs, collages, poems, short stories (In his last weeks of life at St. Gemma's he asked for jotters in which to write down stories), model aircraft, model pterodactyls that actually flew. Or he would be doing bigger jobs: as a teenager he learned soldering/welding/brazing at an adult-education class which he had been debarred on grounds of age from attending. Hence later he was able to install all the plumbing and central heating in his house at Newlay. No job was too difficult or too heavy or too dirty to deter Arthur from attempting it: there was the moving of the cast-iron lamp-post to Newlay, the stone troughs introduced all over the garden there, the anvil he carried into the shed. In his late 50s Arthur maintained the strength and fitness of a 40-year-old by his daily regimen of punishing keep-fit exercises designed for Canadian airforce pilots.

Collecting. If Arthur was not himself making things, he was likely to be collecting them. He had a deep admiration for the skills of the craftsman and for the individual items, however humble or mundane, which such people made in the days before mass production. He was a knowledgeable collector of antique furniture and ornaments, and a respected member of a Leeds antique-collectors' circle. He accumulated a collection of scientific and medical instruments of bygone years. He had an especially fine collection of microscopes. He bought cameras and photographic equipment generally, and old photographs, and was a competent and sought-after lecturer on the history of photography. He liked porcelain and ivory and glass: he wrote and published a useful little book on English glass illustrated with his own fine photographs. Most important of all to him in latter years was his fine collection of seals and sealings, early forms of writing, and writing instruments generally. Though the chronologically later components of this collection were most unfortunately stolen from his house on the eve of his departure on holiday, his real intellectual interests centred on the ancient cylinder and stamp seals, unnoticed by the robbers, with their fascinating early representations of nature and of man: he was engaged on an inventory, photographic record, and critical book on these at the time of his death. Arthur was a collector too of the wonderful creations of the natural world, the living and the dead: two large tanks of beautifully coloured fish adorn his house; there is a mammoth tooth on a table. The Department of Biology at the university is going to make a permanent display in its new foyer of the fossil plesiosaurus which Arthur and his son Richard discovered. There are many other palaeontological objects in his house.

Playing. When Arthur stopped collecting things (though in fact he never did so) he used them. He was always practising his violin, or one of his many other musical instruments. He had won at the age of 12 a music scholarship to Sedbergh School for his violin playing, an opportunity which he was unable to take up for family financial reasons. But the passion for music, playing and listening, but especially playing, never left him and re-emerged to the surface in his middle years. He became a competent, but according to his own account an undisciplined, second violin in the City of Leeds College of Music Symphony Orchestra, playing with gusto and evident delight in their regular seasonal concerts in Leeds Town Hall.

Flying. After his playing comes his flying. Not a childhood interest so far as anyone knows, it emerged to prominence in Arthur's Bristol years. Taking advantage of membership of Bristol University's Air Squadron to acquire flying skills, he logged numerous hours of powered flying in the remarkable Harvard training aircraft of the 1950s, achieving the rank of pilot officer in the RAFVR. Thereafter as a young family man he flew only model planes and birds, often constructed by himself and his son Paul. Real flying took over again in the mid-to-late 80s: though he revived and maintained to the end his private pilot's licence, it was gliding which captured his imagination - by far the most highly skilled and aesthetically satisfying form of human flight. Though he took it up late in life he took it up passionately, as he took up everything, and he had already by 1988 gained the gold height-gliding qualification. At first it was gliding for its own sake he pursued; soon it was aerial photography, which served his growing interests in landscape archaeology and history.

Arthur's Other Activities

There is much I haven't mentioned. Arthur's interests in motor cars and motor cycles, an inheritance surely from his father; his interest in railways: he was a member of the Old Locomotive Company, which is dedicated to preserving 'Lion', the world's oldest locomotive still steamed (alas, no longer), made by Kitson's of Leeds. He was an active and tireless gardener. He was an intrepid traveller: he had visited most of the world's continents, most recently Africa in 1996, on the eve of the onset of his final cruel illness. He was increasingly fascinated by history and archaeology, as witness the large number of recent publications of e.g. Stonehenge in his house.

Arthur and Education

I close with mention of Arthur's commitment to education at the broadest level. His reading was very wide both in the sciences and in the arts. Hence he was a stimulating tutor to generations of undergraduates. He was also a first-rate practical laboratory worker and was a particularly helpful teacher of those many individual students who, fired by his example, undertook project work or research under his supervision. He will be remembered with affection and missed by many pupils around the world - most of whom cannot be with us today - whose own careers owe much to early encouragement and assistance from Arthur.

Himself always thinking about and asking about the world, Arthur acknowledged that he had himself benefited greatly from educational opportunity and museum display. Hence his active membership over many years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Hence too his enthusiasm for the improvement of museums and the foundation of science centres. Hence in particular his long service, as council member, secretary, and finally president, to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. He would have been pleased to learn, characteristically modest though he was, of this society's decision last Friday to acknowledge his contribution to its work by naming an academic prize in his honour.


As James Boswell said in his epitaph on Oliver Goldsmith, poet, naturalist, and historian:

'Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit'
'He touched nothing that he did not adorn'.
ISM 20 May 1997


Arthur Chadwick's association with The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society began in the society's 152nd session (1 October 1971 - 30 September 1972), when he was elected as a subscribing member. By the 153rd session (1 October 1972 - 30 September 1973) Arthur had already become a member of council. He served continuously as a member of council from that year, holding the position of vice-president from 1989 until 1995, and that of president from December 1995 to date. On 7 November 1977 he was appointed by the council to serve, concurrently with his membership of council, as secretary, a position to which he was annually re-appointed until December 1995, when he relinquished it at the stage when he became president.

During a period of almost twenty years, therefore, Arthur has been active in The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in a dual role: participating as charity trustee in the formulation of the society's policies and, as secretary, implementing on behalf of the society decisions taken by the council. Amid the heavy demands of his family responsibilities, of his own academic career, and of his numerous other intellectual and practical interests and activities, Arthur has worked for the society, and for the scientific and scholarly values which it seeks to foster in the wider community, with loyalty, selflessness, and honour, seeking always to maintain, as well as to adapt to a late-twentieth-century context, the essential curiosity about all aspects of the human environment which motivated the founders of the society in 1820, and which has ensured the society's validity, relevance, and active well-being ever since.

Arthur Chadwick entered upon his first term as president in December 1995 full of new ideas, which were nevertheless compatible with the traditional objects and activities of the society, for extending to a wider public the benefits of The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society's resources. How extremely frustrating and disappointing it must have been for Arthur, himself a man of insatiable intellectual curiosity and inextinguishable mental and physical energy, to have been prevented by illness from presiding at, or even attending, any meetings subsequent to September 1996. How very sad that the ravages of a cruel disease have taken him so prematurely from our midst, preventing his living to complete the second and final year of his presidency.

I ask you all to stand in silence for one minute as a tribute of respect and of gratitude for the life of Arthur Chadwick.

ISM 16 May 1997

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