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Eric Markland


Colleagues from the former University College, Cardiff (UCC), will be saddened to hear of the death of Eric Markland PhD, DSc, Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1970 until his retirement in 1983.  

Eric was born on St George’s Day 1923 and grew up in Atherton, a small cotton-spinning and mining town about five miles from Bolton.  He was awarded a scholarship to Bolton School followed by a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University where, under wartime conditions, students worked a four-term year.  As a fluid dynamics specialist he was immensely proud of having studied in the department formally headed by the great Osborne Reynolds, and a reproduction of a painting of Reynolds hung prominently behind his office desk.

He graduated with first class honours in 1943 and was immediately directed into war work by the Ministry of Aircraft Production at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) where he joined a team running the large wind tunnel.  Soon after the end of the war he went to Germany as a member of a team with the aim of investigating the state of German aeronautical facilities.  He left RAE in 1946 to take up an apprenticeship with a London-based firm of civil engineers.  He married Nancy, who he met at Farnborough, in 1947.  On completion of his apprenticeship he was appointed to a lectureship at Nottingham University.  

In 1966 he took up a chair at Queen’s University Belfast where he expected to stay with his wife and family for many years, but the troubles started just three years after he arrived.  He accepted an unexpected invitation to take up the chair of Mechanical Engineering at UCC and, on arrival, rapidly set about improving research activity and performance.  At that time the department had only one research student, but by the time he retired the research staff numbered about thirty, and there was a healthy income from research contracts.  

The first Research Assessment Exercise was carried out in his retirement year and the Mechanical Engineering return was awarded the highest rating.  He made a number of crucial appointments to the staff which were the foundation for the department’s subsequent success in both teaching and research performance measures long after he retired at the relatively young age of 60.  

Eric always took an active interest in his department’s research staff and research students, and was generous in his encouragement and motivation. In retirement Eric continued his professional life as a consultant, and was a legendary, leading member of the Cardiff Ramblers Club well into his eighties.  His wife Nancy died in 2001.  He is survived by his two daughters Sally and Ruth.