Catalogue description Catalogue of the papers of CHRISTOPHER ALWYNE JACK YOUNG, FRS (1912 - 1978)

This record is held by Science Museum Library and Archives

Details of CSAC 70.8.79
Reference: CSAC 70.8.79
Title: Catalogue of the papers of CHRISTOPHER ALWYNE JACK YOUNG, FRS (1912 - 1978)

SECTION A Biographical and personal CSAC 70.8.79.A.1 - CSAC 70.8.79.A.42


SECTION B Central Instrument Research Laboratory, Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. (I.C.I.) CSAC 70.8.79.B.1 - CSAC 70.8.79.B.210


SECTION C Lectures, papers, publications, conferences CSAC 70.8.79.C.1 - CSAC 70.8.79.C.29


SECTION D Correspondence CSAC 70.8.79.D.1 - CSAC 70.8.79.D.27


The majority of papers in the collection (see Section B) relate to the I.C.I. Central Instrument Section (later the Central Instrument Research Laboratory) of which Young was Director from its establishment in 1946 until 1971, and Technical Director, 1971-73. They consist of memoranda, correspondence, research reports, committee papers, etc. documenting various aspects of the history and development of the Laboratory during this period; in addition there is a set of I.C.I. Instrument Information Bulletin, 1956-62 (see CSAC 70.8.79.B.177-CSAC 70.8.79.B.210 and introductory note). The remaining Sections contain personal and biographical papers, lectures and other writings, and some correspondence.


Compiled by: Jeannine Alton


Julia Latham-Jackson


The papers were received from Mrs. Young through the agency of Mr. S.T. Lunt, who provided valuable help and advice in the initial sorting of the papers. We are also grateful to Dr. A. Spinks, F.R.S. who kindly allowed us to see and to quote from a proof copy of the Memoir of C.A.J. Young by R.L. Day and A. Spinks to be published in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 25, 1979.

Date: 1930-1978
Held by: Science Museum Library and Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Young, Christopher Alwyne Jack, 1912-1978, scientist

Physical description: 22 boxes
Access conditions:




Administrative / biographical background:

C.A.J. Young joined I.C.I. in 1940 and worked on various engineering projects during the war, including FIDO (for dispersing fog from airfields) and the Tube Alloys (Atomic Bomb) Project. Some reminiscences about this period are the be found in CSAC 70.8.79.C.13, CSAC 70.8.79.C.14. In 1946 the I.C.I. Technical Director, F.E. Smith (later Sir Ewart Smith) invited Young to set up a central instrument laboratory. Young later wrote of this invitation 'I was very fortunate in 1946, in two respects. First, my experience had shown me the importance to industry of exploiting the full potential of instrumentation and automatic control, and l believed l knew how his could be achieved. Secondly, Sir Ewart Smith had also appreciated the need for long-term research and development and invited me to be responsible for fulfilling in for I.C.I.' (see CSAC 70.8.79.A.2)


The laboratory was originally set up as 'A general instrument research and development section ... to act as a service to all Divisions ... keep in touch with instrument practice at home and abroad, and hold certain specialised equipment for general use in I.C.I.' (see CSAC 70.8.79.B.3). In the early 1950s, however, Young decided to concentrate the work of the laboratory on the design of process control systems. His objective was that process, plant and control equipment should be designed as one unified system to eradicate the practice of adding the control equipment as an afterthought to a plant already designed. In order to achieve this he directed the laboratory towards the target of predicting the dynamic behaviour of chemical processes of the design stage, and introduced the concept of the 'mathematical model' to describe any system under consideration.


By 1956 electronic computers capable of solving the complex equations generated by this line of research were a practical reality, and Young was quick to see their advantage. He persuaded I.C.I. to purchase a Ferranti Mercury in 1958, and his subsequent efforts to ensure that the Company took advantage of the most recent developments in the computing industry are well documented in the collection (see CSAC 70.8.79.B.78 - CSAC 70.8.79.B.115). He also encouraged research into a new high level language specially designed for on-line computer applications, and a novel system of interface instrumentation, both of which were designed to reduce costs and thus improve the practical possibilities of implementing a complete on-line system (see CSAC 70.8.79.B.95 - CSAC 70.8.79.B.102).


Recognition of Young's achievements in the field of process control came in 1969 with the award of the honorary degree of Doctor of Technology by Bradford University (see CSAC 70.8.79.A.18) and the presentation of the first Sir Harold Hartley Medal by the Institute of Measurement and Control (formerly the Society of Instrumental Technology, of which Young was President, 1954 - 57). Fellowship of the Royal Society followed in 1972.


At the end of 1968 Young had to undergo a severe operation from which he never fully recovered. He continued to involve himself in the work of the laboratory when he was able, but in 1971 his health forced him to relinquish the Directorship and he accepted the advisory post of Technical Director to the I.C.I. Corporate Laboratory which was formed by merging the Central Instrument Research Laboratory at Bozedown with the I.C.I. Petrochemical and Polymer Laboratory at Runcorn in 1972. He retired from I.C.I. in 1973.


A word should be said here about Young's Christian names. He was born Alwyne Jack, and many of his friends and colleagues called him 'A.J.', but his wife knew him as Christopher, the name by which he had first introduced himself to her, and in 1969 he changed his name by deed poll to Christopher Alwyne Jack Young.




CSAC 70.8.79.b.1912 Calne, Wiltshire


educ. Colston's School, Bristol


1930 - 34 St. Edmund Hall, Oxford (B.A., B.Sc.)


1934 Science master, Radley College (Easter Term only)


1934 - 38 Science master, Cheltenham College


1938 - 40 Assistant Meteorologist, Sudan Government Service


1940 - 46 I.C.I. Ltd., Billingham Division


1946 Married Wendy Henniker-Heaton


1946 - 71 Director, I.C.I. Central Instrument Section (later Central Instrument Research Laboratory)


1954 - 57 President, Society of Instrument Technology


1969 Hon. D. Tech., University of Bradford


First Sir Harold Hartley Medal


1971 - 73 Technical Director, I.C.I. Corporate Laboratory


1972 Fellow of the Royal Society

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