Kevin Frederick Taylor

Kevin Frederick Taylor, Head of Marine Engineering Workshop

A personal obituary by Graham Alcock from New Zealand

Kev passed away on 10th May, quickly at home after a couple of years of illness. He joined Bidston in 1970 and soon gained a reputation for his very high-quality precision work in manufacturing our instruments that made Bidston Observatory one of the few European oceanographic labs capable of making measurements in coastal, shallow and deep waters. He was head of the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory at Bidston Observatory. All instruments that went in the sea were manufactured in this facility as none were available commercially. During his career, he made a number of major contributions to advance the design of instruments. He was known by everyone at Bidston Observatory and well liked and respected by them all.

Kev had a great sense of humour and was an excellent raconteur of stories and jokes; an ability developed and honed during his other early career as a cabaret double act playing guitars and telling jokes. I always looked forward to emails from him to NZ with his wit and turn of phrase.

I remember happy times outside work. I remember especially the three holidays that we all went on in 2005 before Iona and I emigrated to New Zealand.

Kev was interested in Roman Britain and he, Di, Graham and Iona enjoyed a visit to Hadrian’s Wall in winter 2005 – made more memorable by staying in a Fawlty Towers hotel. The hotel had just been bought by a woman whose previous experience was limited to helping her sister run a B+B. When we said we would like an evening meal, she had to look in the fridge/freezer to see what there was, and while that was being prepared, we had to light the fire in the lounge. We were the only people staying there, but that weekend her family descended en masse and proceeded to drink the bar dry. We had to save the young daughter from falling into the lounge fire. Kev never let me forget about booking Fawlty Towers!

In May we went to Stratford where I had booked us into a traditional country inn and that was OK except for one breakfast, when Kev’s sausages were uncooked. The chef had taken the morning off and given the cooking duties to one of the young kitchen staff. It could only happen to Kev!

In July we went to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project. On the way down, I had researched a Real Ale pub to stop at for lunch; this turned out to be an Indian restaurant in bright orange, much to Kev’s delight! We stayed at a B+B owned by a German and his English wife and on the way down, Kev had joked about “Don’t mention the war” but that is what the German owner himself said to us at our first breakfast!

Another passion of Kev’s, with myself was supporting Everton; through thick and thin; he lived to see Everton beat arch rivals “the Reds” at Anfield in February 2021.

I always stayed with Kev and Di when visiting the UK each year and both Iona and myself were delighted when they came over for Emma and Myles’ wedding and we had a great holiday – no uncooked sausages or Fawlty Towers!

After retirement, Kev was able to spend more time on one of his passions – renovating a vintage Jaguar with Ian Vassie.

So, we have very fond memories of Kev – his contribution to Bidston’s working and social life, and to our own lives, was immense.

We will miss him.

Gray and Iona

Bidston Observatory Technology Group

Joe Rae, November 2017

In 1969 Bidston Observatory became a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council and was renamed the Institute of Coastal Oceanography and Tides (ICOT) with an expansion of its oceanographic work. In the ICOT Annual Report for 1969/70 it states:–

“An essential component of any environmental research effort is the acquisition of relevant observations against which theories can be tested. In the marine sciences such fieldwork is invariably expensive both in capital equipment and operating costs; data acquisition systems should therefore be designed for maximum efficiency and minimum maintenance. It follows that such a system will provide a basis for the long-term monitoring of oceanographic variables, the analysis of which can be expected to yield a bonus in the same way that barometers and thermometers have contributed to both synoptic meteorology and climatology.”

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Sylvia Asquith at Bidston Observatory

This is the text of a speech given by Sylvia Asquith on 27th September 2017 at the Foundation of Art and Creative Technology (FACT) during the New Observatory Exhibition. Sylvia’s speech was followed by the screening of a short film by Yu-Chen Wang entitled “I wish to communicate with you”.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Sylvia Asquith and I joined the Bidston Observatory staff in February 1947 as Sylvia Brooks. It was a long time ago but I well remember those early days.

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From storm surges to literature

The connection between storm surges in the North Sea and the new British Nobel Laureate, Kazuo Ishiguro

Judith Wolf, October 2017

I only met Kazuo Ishiguro’s father once. In April 1981 we both attended a session of the 5th UK Geophysical Assembly at the University of Cambridge. I was in the throes of my PhD study and looking at the effect of wind gustiness on wind-driven currents in numerical models. In our session, on “Air-Sea Interaction” there were only three of us (the third being Ed Monahan, who worked on wind waves), and being the last session on the Friday afternoon, and rather peripheral to the main topics of the conference, there were only the three of us left there to listen to each other’s presentations and dutifully ask questions. Shizuo Ishiguro’s talk was entitled “Extreme surge predictions by the quasi uniform steady wind/pressure field method” (*); he was known to me by reputation, although by this time his work was something of an anachronism, as the world had moved on to digital computers. He had built an analogue computer to model North Sea storm surges and was employed, like myself, at the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (IOS), but based at Wormley in Surrey, while I worked at Bidston Observatory in NW England.

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Tide and Time – a history of tidal science in Liverpool

This short film, by Andy Lane, Andy Heath and Craig Corbett, is part of the Tide and Time exhibition at the National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool. The exhibition showcases two tidal prediction machines – the Roberts-Légé and the Doodson-Légé. The film also explores the history of tidal science in Liverpool and its development as a port.

Enjoy!

Tide & Time Exhibition opens

The Tide & Time Exhibition  is now open to the public.

The exhibition – at the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool – showcases some of the fascinating achievements made in the Liverpool area in understanding and predicting the tides. The highlights of the exhibition are the rare Roberts-Légé and Doodson-Légé tide prediction machines, extraordinary analogue computers that calculate the rise and fall of the ocean tide. See these beautifully intricate machines up and running at the only place in the world where you can see two of them together.

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My early life at Bidston Observatory

Joyce Scoffield

Originally, from 1955, I worked in the Met Office at Speke Airport (later to be called Liverpool Airport and subsequently John Lennon Airport). I very much enjoyed being a weather observer – sending observations up to the control tower to be passed on to aircraft, but the job involved shift work, which included regular night duties. This was fine till I got married in 1961. At that stage, I became less enthusiastic about shift work and about the amount of travelling involved between Greasby and the airport: bus – ferry – bus – at least an hour each way. I didn’t drive in those days.

So I decided to look for another job. Bidston Observatory came to mind. It was much nearer home and I knew they had a weather station there. So I wrote to the Director asking him if there were any job vacancies. He – Dr. Rossiter – invited me to go for interview and duly offered me a job! It was as easy as that in 1961. Nowadays, with high competition for every post, people can’t believe that it could ever be that easy.

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Reflections on Time

Kevin F. Taylor

I was recently invited to attend a garden party to celebrate 150 years of the Bidston Observatory, hosted by Stephen and Mandy Pickles on Saturday 17 September 2016 in the grounds of Bidston Lighthouse. This gave me a deep sense of déjà vu, as it reminded me so much of my first day as a member of Bidston staff at the start of 1972.

On that day, I drove up the same well-worn drive, past the sandstone wall entrance, and into the grounds. On my right hand side was a lawn that was shortly to be occupied by the new Proudman Building. But in early 1972 that area looked almost the same as it does now, except for a small vegetable patch that was attended to by a Mr. Connell. He and his family occupied the cottages that belonged to the lighthouse and had been built by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. On that balmy Saturday evening in September, I thought it quite strange that, here I was celebrating 150 years of the Observatory, and yet the ‘new’ Proudman Building had been built and demolished (in early 2013) within little more than 40 years, a fraction of the Observatory’s lifetime.

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Directing Bidston

Graham Alcock, 21 October 2016

I joined Bidston in 1972 and took early retirement in 2000, having survived five name changes (Institute of Coastal Oceanography and Tides, Institute of Oceanographic Sciences, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Centre for Coastal and Marine Science and back to the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory). Here are anecdotes about some of the Directors during that time.

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Bidston recollections

John Huthnance, 7 Oct 2016.

I joined IOS Bidston (as it was then) in October 1977. The validity of my appointment could be questioned as the appointment letter came from DB Crowder (the Bidston administrator) who left before I arrived.

It was a good time to join. There were about 80 staff in total, few enough to give a “family” atmosphere with the feeling that everyone knew everyone else. Several colleagues had been taken on during the early 1970s but it was still a time of expansion rather than otherwise.   Scientists like myself had a fairly free hand to pursue promising lines of research within a fairly broad remit. I enjoyed a feeling of support from fellow scientists to do just this. Much of the funding came through a consortium of several government departments with an interest in our research. The negotiations were at some distance from most of the scientists who did not have to spend much time writing proposals, yet it was good to know of “user” interest in our work, always a characteristic of Bidston science. It was still possible to be “the” expert in a topic, a rarity today. I was lucky.

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