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Frederick Munro Broadhurst 1928-2009

Fred Frederick Munro Broadhurst, known to all simply as Fred, has died after a short illness. He was a ‘Manchester Man’ throughout his life, spending his early childhood in Burnage and attending William Hulme Grammar School from 1939-46.

On leaving school Fred became a ‘Bevin Boy’ rather than undertake National Service, and worked underground at Bradford Colliery, East Manchester. This work inspired in him a fascination for geology and to further his education he attended day release and night school at Stockport College. In 1948 he left the pit and entered Manchester University’s Department of Geology where W J Pugh was Professor and Head.

Fred graduated in 1951 with a First Class Honours degree and immediately became Assistant Lecturer, gaining his MSc in 1953. In 1954 Fred was made Lecturer and obtained his PhD in 1956 for his work on Upper Carboniferous non-marine bivalves, supervised jointly by S H Straw and R M C Eagar (Keeper of Geology at Manchester Museum). Later he became a Senior Lecturer and eventually retired from the Manchester Department in 1990, thus completing 42 yearss continuous service.

Fred’s early research was on the embryonic subject of palaeoecology, integrating analysis of fauna, sedimentology, sedimentary petrography and geochemistry of Lancashire Coal Measures. In 1963 he took a sabbatical year at the Palaeontology Museum in Oslo working on Silurian palaeoecology in the Oslofjord and Ringerike areas, but during the 1960s and 70s most of Fred’s research was directed towards Dinantian reefs of the Peak District with his colleague Morven Simpson. More than 15 post-graduate students came under Fred's supervision at this time.

It was with Morven that he developed his interest in building stones, and they published their pioneering guide to the building stones of Manchester in 1975, revised in 2008. He later became interested in cyclicity in sedimentation, recognising seasonal sedimentation in the Lancashire Westphalian and published on tidal cycles in the Mazon Creek deposits of Illinois.

But it was for his wonderful teaching that Fred will be best remembered. For the whole of his time at Manchester Fred taught palaeontology, first with Sidney Straw in the 1950s, and then with John Pollard through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Hundreds of undergraduates came under his influence and even though Manchester was a ‘hard rock’ Department, it is always Fred that they remember with his boundless enthusiasm and energy, both in the classroom and in the field.

It was on one such student field trip in 1960 that he discovered a complete plesiosaur in the Lower Jurassic of Ravenscar, Yorkshire. Realising that the fossil would not survive the winter, Fred led an expedition to recover the skeleton, battling storms to extract the fossil and drag it up the cliffs using a ‘human husky’ team! For many years it was displayed in the Geology Department, and in 2000 it took pride of place in the refurbished galleries of Manchester Museum and is about to be described as a new species. Unfortunately the museum has decided to remove it from display.

For the whole of his career Fred was heavily involved in adult education, both for the University and for the WEA. On his retirement in 1990, this work was to take up an increasing amount of his time, leading countless evening classes and study trips at home and abroad, first with the Extra-Mural Department, and later with the Wilmslow Guild. When he eventually retired from the study tours, following a valedictory trip to Norway in 2001, he continued to take evening classes right up to this summer, and had already planned his courses for 2010.

Fred also popularized the geology of the Manchester area and the Peak District by contributing to or editing several editions of the GA Guides and authoring the book Rocky Rambles in the Peak District in 2001. He was a ‘father figure’ (and honorary member) of the Manchester Geological Association.

Everyone who came under Fred’s influence will speak of his patience and inspiration as a teacher and it is fitting that he was honoured in 2000 with a national award as Adult Tutor of the Year from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education for his enormous contribution to the wider community. In 1982 he had received the John Phillips Medal of the Yorkshire Geological Society for major contributions to knowledge of the geology of Northern England, and also the Silver Medal of Liverpool Geological Society in 1976.

Fred was born on 5 February 1928 and died on 1 October 2009. He was a devoted family man and celebrated his golden wedding with Rosemary in 2008. He is survived by Rosemary, by his children, Andrew and Caroline, and his grandchildren, Ben, Anna, Tom and Talisker.

John Nudds, John Pollard, Paul Selden