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Paul Howard Bridges 1948-2017


Sedimentologist, teacher and university manager known and loved for his helpful and self-effacing manner.

Paul Bridges grew up in Bath and obtained a first class degree in geology from Swansea in 1969 before embarking on a PhD at Reading where he studied the sedimentology of the Llandovery transgression in the Welsh Borderlands. Everyone who knew him during his early career was struck by both his capacity for meticulous, painstaking and careful work and his kind, generous and thoughtful character. He was just a delightful person to have as a friend and colleague, never interested in being in the limelight, but always interested in helping others to complete whatever job needed to be done.


When he completed his postgraduate studies in 1972 he accepted a lectureship in palaeontology at Derby College of Art and Technology. And there he stayed for his entire career, helping to steer it through successive stages in its evolution until and beyond when it became a University in 1993.

Research and Teaching

During the 1970s to 80s he published on his Llandovery work and on various aspects of shallow marine and tidal flat sedimentology. He also co-authored A Dynamic Stratigraphy of the British Isles, his care, attention to detail and enthusiasm being crucial to the completion of the textbook. In the 1980s and 90s he concentrated on the evolution of Carboniferous mud-mounds and co-edited the IAS Special Publication Carbonate mud mounds: their origin and evolution. Later, he increasingly focussed on improving the quality and administration of teaching both within his institution and nationally. He was a great teacher, organised, enthusiastic and encouraging. Generations of students were influenced by his sound advice and set on successful career paths by him.


His interest in course structure and in improving the flexibility of the educational experience led him, by the 1990s, to become Dean of Academic Planning and then Dean of Modular Studies. Outside the University he was a leading light in the Northern Universities Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer (NUCCAT) and the UK Credit Forum becoming chair of these organisations. However, he continued to foster research within the University and by when he retired he had become Head of Research (and leader for RAE/REF) as well as University Risk Manager, Company Secretary and Clerk to the Governing Council. All this hard work culminated in the award of an MBE in 2013 for his services to education. But more importantly, he had a real influence throughout his life on all those that knew him, setting us all an example of generosity, kindness and diligence.


He retired in 2013, becoming an Emeritus Professor, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Derby for his outstanding contribution to the institution. He continued his interests in gardening and running. He was also a very talented artist and a keen Aston Villa fan. He did a huge amount of voluntary work for local groups including Derby Cathedral and St. Joseph’s Church. He is survived by his wife Madeleine and son Ashleigh and will be sadly missed by all.

By Roger Anderton