Pye Correspondence

Scope and Content

Correspondence about the disposal of the body of Sir David Pye, former Provost of UCL.

Administrative / Biographical History

Pye, Sir David Randall (1886-1960), mechanical engineer and academic administrator, was born on 29 April 1886 in Hampstead, London, the sixth of the seven children of William Arthur Pye, wine merchant, and his wife, Margaret Thompson, daughter of James Burns Kidston, writer to the signet, of Glasgow. A scholar of Tonbridge School and Trinity College, Cambridge, he was placed in the first class of the mechanical sciences tripos in 1908; he also won his half blue for rifle shooting. In 1909 C. F. Jenkin, who had just been appointed the first professor of engineering science at Oxford, invited Pye to join him there. He was elected a fellow of New College in 1911.

During the First World War, Pye taught at Winchester College (1915-1916), then worked as an experimental officer in the Royal Flying Corps on design and testing, and learned to fly as a pilot. In 1919 he returned to Cambridge as a lecturer, and became a fellow of Trinity. There he met Henry Tizard and Harry Ricardo, his association with whom led to important pioneer work on the internal combustion engine. In 1926 Pye married Virginia Frances, daughter of Charles Moore Kennedy, barrister. The couple had two sons and a daughter. She became a well-known writer of books for children under the name of Virginia Pye and was a younger sister of the writer Margaret Kennedy. Pye's outstanding exposition, 'The Internal Combustion Engine' (2 volumes, 1931-1934) was published in the Oxford Engineering Science series, of which he became an editor. In 1925 he was appointed deputy director of scientific research at the Air Ministry under H E Wimperis. He succeeded him as director in 1937 and in the same year was appointed CB and elected FRS. During the early war years he became closely associated with the development of the new jet propulsion aircraft engine/

In 1943 Pye accepted the provostship of University College, London, and presided over a period of rebuilding and reorganisation following the Second World War. He was knighted in 1952 and in the same year became president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Pye died at his home, Cuttmill Cottage, Shackleford, Godalming, Surrey, on 20 February 1960.

Access Information


This file is closed.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from Provost's Office, 22 Sep 1986