Catalogue description Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of ALFRED JOHN SUTTON PIPPARD FRS (1891 - 1969)

This record is held by Imperial College Archives and Corporate Records Unit

Details of CSAC 97.1.84
Reference: CSAC 97.1.84
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of ALFRED JOHN SUTTON PIPPARD FRS (1891 - 1969)



CSAC 97.1.84/A.1 Obituary notices and tributes


CSAC 97.1.84/A.2-CSAC 97.1.84/A.8 Autobiographical accounts


CSAC 97.1.84/A.9-CSAC 97.1.84/A.32 Career, honours and awards


CSAC 97.1.84/A.33, CSAC 97.1.84/A.34 Photographs




CSAC 97.1.84/B.1 - CSAC 97.1.84/B.31 Aeronautical research


CSAC 97.1.84/B.32 Arched dams


CSAC 97.1.84/B.33 Hatfield Development Corporation - Investigation into gale-damaged houses


CSAC 97.1.84/B.34 National Physical Laboratory Executive Committee


CSAC 97.1.84/B.35 Public Health Engineering at Imperial College


CSAC 97.1.84/B.36-CSAC 97.1.84/B.40 Thames Pollution Committee


CSAC 97.1.84/B.41 Westminster City Council - Lisson Green Development


CSAC 97.1.84/B.42 Published papers




CSAC 97.1.84/C.1-CSAC 97.1.84/C.24 Lectures and articles


CSAC 97.1.84/C.25-CSAC 97.1.84/C.27 Shorter talks and writings


CSAC 97.1.84/C.28-CSAC 97.1.84/C.33 Obituaries and biographical writings


CSAC 97.1.84/C.34-CSAC 97.1.84/C.37 Broadcasts




The collection is particularly strong in material of a biographical and personal nature. Of especial interest is the extensive autobiographical account written by Pippard towards the end of his life (CSAC 97.1.84/A.4). There are also two scrapbooks covering virtually every aspect of his career (CSAC 97.1.84/A.2, CSAC 97.1.84/A.3), and two scrapbooks devoted to his year as president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (CSAC 97.1.84/A.26, CSAC 97.1.84/A.27).


Almost all the material available relating to Pippard's scientific work is concerned with his 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.


Unfortunately very little manuscript material relating to Pippard's other interests survives. However, in a small section on the Thames Pollution Committee, there is Pippard's own account of its work prepared at the time of the publication of the official report (CSAC 97.1.84/B.37).


Much more material survives relating to Pippard's activities as a lecturer, writer of articles and broadcaster. It covers a period of nearly fifty years and a variety of subjects, including aircraft and aviation, engineering structures in general and the education and training of engineers. This last topic was of particular importance to him reflecting his concern about the image of engineering in the world, its lack of appeal as a profession and its disadvantage compared with pure science in attracting the very best recruits. Also of interest in this section is a number of BBC radio broadcasts, especially the scripts for two series of talks to schools in the 1920s (see CSAC 97.1.84/C.34, CSAC 97.1.84/C.35).


There is very little general correspondence in the collection. There are letters, however, in all the scrapbooks and the text of a few letters, not otherwise available, is incorporated in the autobiographical account. See also CSAC 97.1.84/A.12, CSAC 97.1.84/A.13, CSAC 97.1.84/A.15, CSAC 97.1.84/A.16-CSAC 97.1.84/A.20, CSAC 97.1.84/A.22-CSAC 97.1.84/A.24, CSAC 97.1.84/A.29-CSAC 97.1.84/A.32, CSAC 97.1.84/B.23, CSAC 97.1.84/C.10, CSAC 97.1.84/C.28, CSAC 97.1.84/C.30 and CSAC 97.1.84/C.33.


Compiled by: Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper

Date: 1909-1970
Held by: Imperial College Archives and Corporate Records Unit, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Pippard, Alfred John Sutton, 1891-1969, scientist and civil engineer

Physical description: 7 boxes
Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were received from Professor Sir Brian Pippard, younger son of A.J.S. Pippard.

Administrative / biographical background:

Pippard was born in Yeovil in 1891 and educated at Yeovil School and Bristol University where he studied civil engineering. Graduating from Bristol in 1911 he served for two years as an articled assistant in the Bristol office of consultant engineer A.P.I. Cotterell before obtaining a position as assistant engineer with the Pontypridd & Rhonda 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, incidentally, advancing structural science. His interest in aircraft structure continued after the war, first as a partner in a firm of aeronautical engineers, 1919-1922, and subsequently as Professor of Engineering at Cardiff, 1922-1928, and Bristol, 1928-1933. In this period he was particularly associated with the experimental testing of airship structures in connection with the building of the R.100 and R.101 (see CSAC 97.1.84/B.21).


In 1933 Pippard moved to Imperial College where for more than twenty years he presided over one of the finest civil engineering departments in the country, winning the respect and affection of staff and students alike. His own active pursuit of research is evidenced by a growing number of published papers, many written in collaboration with Letitia Chitty. Throughout his career he retained an interest in the structure of dams. His early M.Sc. thesis dealt with masonry dams and in his last five years at Imperial College he undertook research projects on arched dams.


In the public domain, he served for ten years, 1951-1961, as Chairman of the Thames Pollution Committee set up by the Minister of Local Government and Housing to make recommendations on the future management of the tidal reaches of the river. Although Pippard was the subject of some press criticism for the length of time his Committee took to report, its work proved of immense benefit to those living and working in the capital. He also took part in an investigation for Hatfield Development Corporation into the gale damage to houses which occurred in November 1957, and in 1968-1969 he served as a consultant for Westminster City Council on the safety of system-built tall blocks of flats in respect of the Lisson Green development. Over many years he was actively involved in the affairs of the Institution of Civil Engineers, serving as its president, 1958-1959.

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