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Paul Garrard 1938-2017

szfdgjDedicated teacher whose legendary mapping skills inspired generations of RSM students

In the late spring 2017, Paul Garrard died at the age of 79 after a tragic fall while walking his pet dog.  Paul will be remembered by many staff and students as a dedicated and talented teacher who helped ensure that graduates from the Royal School of Mines are the most capable in the world. Paul’s legacy is the thousands of students that he taught who have gone on to shape the world.  Paul was an RSM man through and through. Professor Dick Selley, an ex-head of department, said of him: “If Paul was a stick of rock you would find the letters ‘RSM’ embedded in it from end to end”.


Paul came from a working-class background an obtained a degree from the Royal School of Mines in Geology in 1960. He then went on to spend five years mapping the Precambrian basement in Rhodesia for the Geological Survey – a time where he perfected the mapping skills that would become legendary amongst students. In 1965 Paul joined Anglo American Cu mines while at the same time working on his PhD at the RSM.  

At beginning of the 1970s, Rex Davies, the then Professor of Mining Geology, offered him a position as a Lecturer in Mining Geology. His specific role was to run the fieldwork programme and in particular field mapping. He was the perfect man for the job.


Paul remained at Imperial for the next 30 years as Lecturer then Senior Lecturer. During this time his gift for teaching and inspiring students became legendary. His contribution to teaching was recognised by the College when in 1995 the ‘College Teaching Award for Geology’ was bestowed upon him.

Paul Garrard will be remembered by most staff and students as a kind but demanding teacher, whose expectations were high and whose feedback and help was second to none. Students who were lucky enough to go on the Kinlochleven fieldtrip with Paul, a trip he ran for 25 years with John Cosgrove, will still have field notebooks in which each diagram and locality is adorned by helpful advice in red ink. They will remember his patient explanations and his habit of making folds, boudins and even entire mountain belts using his over-sized hands. One student joked: “it took 30 million years for the Alps to form, but I saw Paul make them with his hands in 30 seconds”.


Paul worked students hard and never saw why a little rain, even if moving horizontally, should ruin a day of geology. The students knew that the weather would only end a day’s fieldwork if Paul’s pipe went out. In the harshest weather students would watch the smouldering pipe for signs of an early return home, only to be disappointed when he would turn it upside-down and continue smoking. Paul was a gentleman geologist, with pipe and flat cap, who was apparently carved from rock.

The commitment that Paul put into his teaching came from his love for geology and a job done right. Paul knew that the legacy and reputation of a Royal School of Mines is not just in scientific and engineering developments, but in the quality of its graduates and their impact on the world.

Paul is survived by his wife Shelagh and sons Mike and Ian.

Paul Garrard B.Sc., Ph.D., D.I.C., C.Eng., MIMM, FGS, ARSM

By John Cosgrove & Matthew Genge