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Reginald Bradshaw (1924-2019)

Mineralogist and petrologist whose outstanding contributions to amateur geology were recognised by the Society with the R.H. Worth award

BradshawReginald was born in West Butterfield, Lincolnshire on 21st September 1924 and attended Scunthorpe Grammar School. He joined the RAF in 1943, becoming a photographer and then a meteorologist, serving in France, the UK and Hong Kong, and ending as a Flight Lieutenant.  He graduated in 1950 with a First in Geology and, in 1952, with an MSc in X-ray Crystallography under Kathleen Lonsdale FRS, both from University College London.  Reginald then became a Lecturer in Geology there, with a sabbatical spell in 1955 in British Guinea, until 1958 when he became Lecturer in Mineralogy at Bristol University and remained there until retirement in 1989.

Connemara & Norway

Reg, as he was known, was a mineralogist and petrologist who mapped the Oughterard area of Connemara, western Ireland and established the Oughterard Granite as being later than the Connemara antiform.  Also in the 1950s, he mapped around Sørfinnset, Glomfjord, northern Norway.  In Bristol, he worked with Coles Phillips on X-ray studies of petrofabrics and most of all, he turned his attention to the local geology.  As a gemmologist he became an expert on ‘Bristol diamonds’ (anhydrite nodules replaced by quartz), but is best known in the Mendips for drawing attention in 1970 to the now named ‘Bradshaw’s Cave’ west of Nunny.  He became Senior Lecturer in 1970 and in 1973 obtained his Bristol PhD from submitted publications.

Brilliant teacher

BradshawReg’s main contributions were in years of popular undergraduate teaching and superb tutoring, attested to by many tutees, plus extramural evening and weekend teaching of Geology, especially to amateur geologists, sustained over decades. Typically he taught between seven and ten courses a year, even for years after ‘retiring’, with numerous day excursions to observe local geology, as well as longer trips to Iceland, Brittany, Cyprus, Massif Central and Norway.  He long supported the Bristol Naturalists’ Society, being Librarian (1959-1972), President of the Geological Section (1963-1964), and President of the Society (1968-1969).  Reg’s outstanding service to amateur geology was recognised by the Geological Society in 1995 with the award of the R. H. Worth Prize, by which time he had retired to Wedmore, Somerset.  He was a Fellow for 71 years and for ~60 years a member of the Geologists’ Association (GA), being Librarian (1953-1958), Chairman (1984-1985; 1990-1993) and then President of the West of England GA.  He was President of the Earth Science Teachers’ Association (1984-86).


BradshawHe collected world postage stamps depicting geological features such as volcanoes and gave very popular illustrated lectures on the subject, as well as on the geological works of Leonardo da Vinci.

Reg and his wife, Gwyneth (who died in 2010), met in Hong Kong, were married in 1947 for 63 years. They were staunch Methodists and much of their outreach, as well as Reg’s exceptionally affable, helpful and empathetic nature, certainly sprang from an amalgam of his Christian beliefs and his natural twinkle in the eye and love of a leg-pull.  He died on February 13th 2019 leaving three children, Rhiannon, Alison and Martin, eight grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.

By Bernard Elgey Leake