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Dr Tom Parry Jones


Dr Tom Jones as he was known, was in 1966 appointed Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry (to the Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry Group that I then led as Senior Lecturer) in the Chemistry Department of University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST), then known as the Welsh College of Advanced Technology.

He came to Cardiff from Shrivenham's Royal College of Military Science having previously taken his PhD in Chromium Chemistry at Canada's Alberta University.  In the early days of UWIST there was a request from Cardiff's Lion Laboratories for assistance in developing their Chromate based Breathalysers to which Tom responded.  He eventually became closely involved with the fortunes of Lion Laboratories.  Later, following on research at UWIST, paid for by UWIST in terms of accommodation, facilities and financial support of research studentships as well as sponsorship by Lion Laboratories the interest of Lion Laboratories turned to the electronic based Fuel Cell Breathalyser, until in 1975 Tom Jones was granted 2 years leave of absence by UWIST to test the viability of this new Breathalyser as a commercial device.  

He was required to inform UWIST within a year of whether he was likely to return to his Lectureship at UWIST.  By the end of this first year in 1976 he informed UWIST that he would not be returning.  Tom's life at Lion Laboratories prospered as his Fuel Cell based (Breath Alcohol) Breathalyser device came to be approved by the Home Office as 'evidential'.  The Cardiff premises of Lion Laboratories were too small, and with HM Government Support Lion Laboratories decamped to new premises at Barry and thrived (despite some adverse publicity that tried to harm the product, but Home Office support remained firm).  Lion Laboratories continued to thrive, and Tom supported UWIST by offering Industrial Training places for UWIST's degree in Industrial Chemistry (which I'd devised and planned in 1961-62, and in modified form still exists at Cardiff University).  

The Government of Margaret Thatcher took interest in his Breathalyser development, and it was no surprise when he was duly rewarded with an OBE (very much a plus for UWIST, which of course was a most significant development that led to creation of the present Cardiff University).
Eventually, trans-Atlantic interests were eyeing Lion Laboratories, and  Tom, who following his 2 year secondment had become the 'kingpin' of the Company, sold out.  Tom took up other interests and eventually moved to his original base in the Bangor area (from where he'd taken his first degree before PhD at Alberta).  He became an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University, where I last met him at Graduation Day in 2005.  But the real credit for the Breathalyser goes to Dr. T.P. Jones for his work at UWIST, Cardiff - now Cardiff University.

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Applied Chemistry at Cardiff University