Sound and vision blog

2 posts from August 2014

21 August 2014

Oral history fellowship opportunity


National Life Stories, the oral history charity based at the British Library, invites applications for the first National Life Stories Goodison Fellow, a new award of £5000 which invites applicants to use the oral history collections at the library (particularly the National Life Stories collections) to reflect on life stories and share the results of their research in the public domain.

Possible outcomes from the Fellowship could be a series of national newspaper or magazine articles, an in-depth radio programme or series of programmes, a mobile app, a journal article, an exhibition, a series of podcasts or an online or printed education resource.  The recipient might be a journalist, radio producer, writer, oral historian, an academic using oral history or a museum, library or archive professional.

The Fellowship will provide the recipient the time and space to listen in-depth to oral history material from across the collections.  The Fellow will be provided with desk space at the British Library, which will include access to interview material (plus books and journals) onsite at the British Library.  No restricted or embargoed material will be accessible.  For the duration of the Fellowship, the National Life Stories Goodison Fellow will become part of the NLS/Oral History team, which will enable privileged in-depth discussion with curators, archivists and interviewers, mining their knowledge of the collections and National Life Stories’ approach to oral history.

Further information can be found at

Applications must be submitted before 17.00 on Wednesday 1 October 2014 and submitted by email to

04 August 2014

RIP to one of the fathers of composite materials

Thomas Lean, project interviewer for National Life Stories writes:

The recent death of Professor Anthony Kelly brings to a close the long career of one of Britain's foremost material scientists, who played an important role in the development of composite materials. These combine two or more different materials, such as embedding tiny fibres of carbon in a plastic resin to create a new material with unique properties – such as carbon fibre, which is stiffer than steel but far lighter. Interviewed for the National Life Stories project An Oral History of British Science, Tony was born in 1929 and had a Catholic upbringing, the certainties of which he found readily compatible with science, as he mentions in the following clip about his attraction to science at school:

Tony Kelly recalls enjoying the certainty he found in science whilst at school

After an undergraduate degree at the University of Reading he started a PhD at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in the 1950s. Tony's research work on the physics of metals reflected a broader trend of physicists had starting to apply their methods to other disciplines – amongst his contemporaries were Francis Crick and James Watson, two of the discoverers of DNA. Tony briefly joined the 'brain drain' by leaving austerity Britain to work at Northwestern University in the United States, before returning to a lectureship at Cambridge as part of department head Alan Cottrell's efforts to encourage a modern physics based approach to the study of materials. In the 1960s Tony's research work helped to establish the theoretical basis for how composite materials would behave, which Tony demonstrates in the following video clip of him recalling his early work in this area.


From Cambridge, Tony enjoyed a varied career. He served as deputy director of the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington; advised several major companies, including ICI; was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, where he introduced one of the first science parks in Britain; and enjoyed a busy retirement as an emeritus professor in Cambridge, where he died this June. 

Other video extracts with Anthony Kelly can be found on the Voices of Science website.  Many of the full life story interviews recorded for the Oral History of British Science programme can be accessed worldwide via British Library Sounds.