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Robert Kinghorn, 1942-2007

Robert Kinghorn, member of research, academic and administrative staff at Imperial College London, 1969-2006, died on 17 October 2007.

Robert was educated at Eastbourne College and read Chemistry at Edinburgh University. He then undertook research in organic chemistry at the Northern Polytechnic, now the University of North London, and obtained his PhD in 1969. In the same year, he joined the Geology Department at Imperial College as a Research Assistant and took charge of a newly established organic geochemistry laboratory at the Royal School of Mines. To gain tenure, he was required to obtain a degree in geology. He did this by enrolling at the Open University and, following the completion of his degree, joined the academic staff and became involved in source rock studies in several parts of the world. His students researched the geochemistry of source rocks in Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria and the Wessex basin. He also lectured on the subject to the MSc Petroleum Geology course at the College. His work resulted in a number of articles and culminated in the publication in 1982 of a book entitled The Chemistry and Physics of Petroleum. Robert was a Fellow of the Geological Society and of the Royal Society of Arts.

In 2001 he took early retirement from Imperial College but continued to serve the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, successor to the Geology Department, on a part time basis in an administrative capacity. He retired fully in March 2006.

Robert was a life long supporter of the Conservative Party and stood as a Parliamentary candidate for Blyth Valley in 1987 and Norwich North in 1997. He was strongly committed to local government and served as a councillor for Islington during 1968-71 and for Hounslow (Chiswick Riverside ward) from 1986 until his death. At Hounslow, he was Conservative Group leader from 1992 to 1995 and, since the Conservatives took power in May 2005, Executive Member for Children & Lifelong Learning. He also served as churchwarden at St Nicholas Parish Church in Chiswick, where his funeral took place on 31 October with over 350 people attending. Robert was a very sociable and friendly character and his services to the local community, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, earned him respect and admiration. He was described by one of his Hounslow Council colleagues as exceptionally charming, informed and passionate.

Robert was also Chairman of the Conservative Transport Group. He was a railway enthusiast and published a number of railway books, most recently, Lost Railways of Northumberland. He was a devoted family man and leaves a wife, Rosemary, and two sons, James, 12, and Phillip, 22 months.

Mike Ala, Dick Selley, Gill Davies