Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Ted Johnston, BSc (Physics) 1933, MSc 1934, PhD 1938 (died 28 December 2006)

(Obituary and Appreciation by Dr Brian Johnston)

Ted Johnston was born in Belfast in 1911. He attended Belmont Boys' School and RBAI where he was granted scholarships that allowed him to study at Queen's University.

Ted graduated from Queen's with a BSc in Physics in 1933 and then an MSc in 1934.  In 1938 he was awarded a PhD by Bristol University.

Ted's first job in 1938 was at The National Physical Laboratory studying the electrical currents developed in thuderstorms using Barrage balloons.  In 1941 he transferred to the Radio Department to work on microwave radar which was then moved to the Telecommunication Research Establishment (TRE) Malvern in 1943, where he met his future wife Stella.

In 1946 He joined Dr HWB Skinner to get the research laboratories at Harwell established which became the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) in 1954.  In 1947 Ted organised the first scientific conference to be held at Harwell, and after two years with the Electromagnetic Separator Group he moved to head the Physics Group of the Isotope Division.  In 1951 Ted was asked to set up the Isotope School at Harwell.  In 1954 he acted as Scientific Secretary to the second International Radioisotope Conference held in Oxford attended by 800 delegates form 30 countries.

When the Atomic Energy Authority was established in 1954 Ted moved to the Scientific Administration Division.  Harwell was then the jewel in the crown of Government Science, and one of his roles was to look after visits from dignitaries which included the Queen and Winston Churchill.

In 1957 he was placed as Special Assistant to the Head of Health Physics Division and he continued in this work until he retired in 1976.

After his retirement Ted was a well known and respected figure in Abingdon.  He and Stella (whom he married in 1946) were pillars of St Nicolas' Church and have done virtually every job there, from delivering the church magazines to befriending members of the congregation.

In 2006 Ted and Stella marked their 60th wedding anniversary, and Ted celebrated his 95th birthday with a family gathering on 15th December.

Ted enjoyed the company of his wife, children and grandchildren, and had a wry sense of humour.  He kept his mental faculties to the end and enjoyed a good conversation even when his deteriorating eyesight made it impossible for him to read and was hear of hearing.  Ted died peacefully on 28 December 2006.  He is survived by his wife Stella, daughter Patricia, sons Brian and Peter, and five grandchildren.

He will be missed by many for his loving spirit and generous personality. 

 

 

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