The Reporter
Issue no 485 | 28 October 2002
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Walter Tessier Newlyn

Born Wimbledon, 26th July 1915
Died Leeds, 4th October 2002

Walter Newlyn was one of the group of outstanding economists from a wide variety of backgrounds educated at the LSE in the immediate post-war years who made their mark on British universities and the world. He never knew his father, killed on the Western Front a few months after his birth; he left school without qualifications at 16 and got his first job as an office boy in a city firm, and his first promotion when the next-senior office boy stole the petty cash. A visit to Welsh coal mines fired an interest in economics which was interrupted by war, during which he was evacuated on the last day from Dunkirk and subsequently saw service in India.

In 1945 he persuaded LSE to take him on despite his lack of formal education, and read Economics there until 1948, when he was appointed to an Assistant Lectureship at Leeds University. While at LSE he had become good friends with a fellow student, the maverick New Zealand genius Bill Phillips, and together they constructed in a Wimbledon garage the prototype of what became known as the Phillips hydraulic machine – the first analogue computer model of a Keynesian macroeconomic system - which gained widespread fame, even notoriety. It was typical of Walter’s modesty that he never resented the general attribution to Phillips alone.

His original interest in economics was in macroeconomics and monetary policy, but early work on the financial systems of colonial countries led on to a career specifically in development economics, much of it in or related to Africa. Among other assignments he was successively Economic Adviser to the Government of Uganda, a member of the UN Expert Committee on Payment Agreements in Africa, and Director of Economic Research in the East African Institute of Social Research in Kampala. In Leeds (where he became a Professor in 1967) he set up the African Studies Centre and brought many African social scientists as Fellows there. He also founded and was the first President of the Development Studies Association. It was a great sadness to him that much of the economic work on East Africa was vitiated by political events, most notably the Amin era, during which he lost many close friends.

His publications include Money and Banking in British Colonial Africa (with David Rowan, 1954), Money in an African Context (1967), and The Financing of Economic Development (1977). For many years his Theory of Money (1961) was one of the few accessible general introductions to this specialised area, and was read widely by undergraduates.

His other great love was the theatre. With Doreen, whom he married in 1952, he set up and ran a pioneering multi-racial theatre company in Uganda; in Leeds they were tireless campaigners for the establishment of a Leeds (now the successful West Yorkshire) Playhouse. For the campaign he wrote an economic analysis of the theatre industry, which became a standard reference for the Arts Council.

Throughout his life he was quietly but nonetheless passionately a man of the Left. His underlying motivation in both economics and theatre was in seeing that the benefits of an advanced society should not be available only to the elite: the Playhouse campaign was essentially about artistic outreach, and in his later economic work he focussed exclusively on the distributional effects of financial policies. In his retirement he was particularly active in the movement for debt relief for the poorest countries, and even in his last illness he was wanting to discuss the taxation of capital movements.

He is survived by Doreen and three daughters, Lucy, Gill and Kate; Sally, his eldest daughter, predeceased him, causing much sadness in his final years.

Written by Walter Newlyn's son-in law, Martin Slater, Senior tutor at St Edmund Hall, Oxford

See the obituary on campusweb

Tony Wallace

Former assistant bursar, Tony Wallace, died on October 16 aged 78. He joined the university in 1969, after twenty years in industry as a chief accountant and company secretary. Invariably good-natured, unfailingly courteous and a man of the utmost integrity, Tony Wallace was a very well-liked and admired colleague.

See the full obituary on campusweb

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