Papers and correspondence of Alfred John Sutton Pippard, 1891-1969

Scope and Content

The papers are particularly strong in biographical and personal material. There is an extensive unpublished autobiography written towards the end of his life, two scrapbooks covering virtually every aspect of his career and two scrapbooks devoted to his year as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Almost all the material relating to Pippard's scientific work is concerned with research on aircraft structures which is represented by a series of committee papers and reports prepared for the Aeronautical Research Council in the interwar years. There is a little material on the Thames Pollution Committee including Pippard's own account of its work prepared at the time of the publication of the official report. Pippard's activities as a lecturer, writer of articles and broadcaster are more extensively documented. The material covers a period of nearly fifty years and a variety of topics, including aircraft and aviation, engineering structures in general and the education and training of engineers. There are a number of BBC radio broadcasts, especially the scripts for two series of talks to schools in the 1920s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Pippard was born in Yeovil and educated at Yeovil School and Bristol University where he studied civil engineering. Graduating in 1911 he worked locally for the consultant engineer A.P.I. Cotterell before obtaining a post as assistant engineer with the Pontypridd and Rhondda Valley Joint Water Board. In 1915 he was appointed as technical adviser to the Director of the Air Department of the Admiralty where he contributed to the work of the structures section in improving aircraft safety and advancing structural science. His interest in aircraft structures continued after the war, first as partner in a firm of aeronautical engineers, 1919-1922, and subsequently as Professor of Engineering at University College, Cardiff, 1922-1928 and Bristol University, 1928-1933. In this period he was particularly associated with the experimental testing of aircraft structures in connection with the building of the R. 100 and R. 101 airships. In 1933 he moved to Imperial College, London where for more than 20 years he presided over one of the largest engineering departments in Britain. He remained active in research, pursuing, for example, a longstanding interest in the structure of dams. He also took on a number of public responsibilities including Chairmanship of the Thames Pollution Committee, 1951-1961, and served the Institution of Civil Engineers as its President, 1958-1959. He was elected FRS in 1954.


By section as follows: Biographical and autobiographical, Scientific research, Committees and consultancies, Correspondence.

Conditions Governing Access

Admission is by appointment only to bona fide scholars; prior proof of status and proof of identity is required.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Alfred John Sutton Pippard (1891-1969) by J. Alton and P. Harper, CSAC catalogue no. 97/1/84, 31 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Custodial History

Received for cataloguing in 1982 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Sir Brian Pippard, son. Deposited in Imperial College Archives in 1984.