Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Norman Adrian de Bruyne

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Dr Norman Adrian de Bruyne, FRS

1904 Born in Chile of a Dutch father and English mother[1]

Educated at Lancing College

1923 Gained a place at Trinity College, Cambridge. He spent the summer months before going to university on research into high-vacuum electrical equipment at GEC's Wembley offices.

1926 Started research at the Cavendish Laboratory. To augment his work at the GEC, he successfully applied for a prize fellowship at Trinity on the field emission of electrodes.

1928 Became a Fellow of Trinity College.

1931 Took a course on aircraft engineering at the De Havilland Technical College. Learnt to fly with Arthur Marshall at Fen Ditton aerodrome as his first pupil.

Started to design and then build a monoplane, The Snark, based on his ideas for novel, lightweight construction. This took 4 years to complete but the Royal Aircraft Establishment initially rejected its airworthiness.

1934 Left the Cavendish, started his own company Aero Research to carry out work on synthetic resins, which became increasingly used for aircraft construction in place of riveted assemblies.

Flew The Snark around Europe to demonstrate its capabilities[2]

1935 Won support from the Aeronautical Research Committee and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research

1935 Sold The Snark to the Air Ministry

c.1936 Accepted Junior Bursarship at Trinity College, Cambridge on condition that he could develop his ideas on aircraft construction.

1940 Married Elma Marsh. They had one son and one daughter.

De Havilland used his adhesives in its Mosquito and Sea Hornet aircraft

1948 Sold controlling interest in his company to Ciba

1950 Received an award from the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors for the development of strip heating for aircraft construction[3]

Started a new company, Techne Ltd to produce laboratory instruments

1958 Became managing director of Ciba (A.R.L)

Moved to the USA and took US citizenship.

1967 Elected FRS

1993 Returned to the UK on a visit

1997 Died in Duxford

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, March 31, 1997
  2. The Times, Oct 05, 1936
  3. The Times Nov 28, 1950
  • Biography of Norman Adrian de Bruyne, ODNB