John Richards, who was Librarian at Lancing from 1979 until 1999, died peacefully on 19th November 2008, at Worthing Hospital. He was 94.
I believe I am correct in saying that, before John, no one had really been “Librarian” at the College who was not, or had not been, a teacher there as well. (If I am wrong about that, I am happy to be contradicted.) John was an efficient and enthusiastic Librarian; but, of course, he came to the job in retirement from a distinguished career as an engineer/scientist. For the details of this previous career, I am grateful to his younger son Gary.
During the Second World War , John was very much involved in research into radar, co-ordinating research for all three Services in the development of valves (cathode-ray) as used in radar, whether sea or air-based. In the final years of the War, he was at the Admiralty, Royal Naval Scientific Service.
After the War, he joined London Transport at the inception of its Research Department. He was responsible for the design of the new Laboratories on a site at the Chiswick Bus/Train works, and was in charge of engineering and physics research at “the Lab” until he retired on his 64th birthday, 29 years and 10 months after joining LT. His work particularly concentrated on the reduction of noise and vibration during the construction of the Victoria Line (underground) in the 1960s. However, he also worked in the development of ultrasonic testing of mechanical parts, train wheels and axles; making a great contribution, behind the scenes as it were to passenger safety on the Tube.
John was obviously a very practical man, and he adapted smoothly to his new responsibilities as Librarian at Lancing. When he joined the College in 1979, I was the so-called “Master - in – Charge” of the Library, a duty which theoretically ran parallel to that of actual Librarian. It did not take me long to relax into the pleasure of handing over control, totally, to the better and certainly more practical man. This was, I am sure, because I sensed the world of experience that he had behind him, in his previous career. However, he never used to dwell on that, and was always a most genial, easy-tempered and entertaining colleague, of whom I retain very happy memories.