Product has been added to the basket

Patrick John Brenchley 1936-2011

Pat Brenchley with lemonade Patrick Brenchley, known to everyone as Pat, was a widely respected ‘soft rock’ geologist best known for his work on the Late Ordovician. He made innovative contributions to stratigraphy, palaeoecology, volcanology and sedimentology, usually with a strong slant towards the Ordovician, together with co-authorship of a major joint text on palaeoecology and co-editorship of the second edition of The Geology of England and Wales.

Pat was born on 8 July, 1936 and attended Whitgift School in Croydon. His National Service was in the Royal Air Force (1954-56). Subsequently, Pat read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1959 in geology and zoology.

Pat was appointed demonstrator in the Department of Geology, University of Liverpool, in 1961. Pat’s doctoral research was on the stratigraphy, palaeontology and volcanology of the Late Ordovician of the Berwyn Hills, described by Sedgwick as “The most beautiful geology I have seen in my hammering life”. His supervisor, John Harper, also introduced Pat to the Ordovician of eastern Ireland. These studies on the remnants of Avalonia built a strong foundation to Pat’s subsequent career. He was appointed Assistant Lecturer in 1965.

Throughout his career Pat was a conscientious and well-liked teacher. He took great care in the preparation and delivery of his lectures, and developed some very innovative ‘multidisciplinary’ practical exercises. Pat was a particularly excellent field instructor, and led field courses to many corners of the UK and Ireland. He was also supervisor to around 20 PhD students.

Pat formally took early retirement in September 1996. He was re-engaged as Senior Fellow until 1999, enabling him to continue his teaching and research, but with much less administration. His research maintained a strong focus on Ordovician stratigraphy, palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology, and especially Hirnantian extinctions and their causes, where he set the agenda for much current research. Fieldwork included Scandinavia, Iberia, the Baltic States and Patagonia.

Pat had a long association with the Geological Journal, serving as editor-in-chief (1982-1991) and book review editor (1991-2008). He managed the journal’s transformation to an increasingly internationally respected, multidisciplinary journal.

Pat met his wife Barbara in Liverpool in the 1960s, and they shared passions for classical music, hill-walking and exploring the world. They were married for 47 years, and had four children and seven grandchildren. Pat was a keen sportsman, and was still playing for the departmental cricket and rugby teams in his 40s.

After retirement, Pat and Barbara moved to Cumbria. Pat’s research continued, but most of his time was spent completing The Geology of England and Wales, co-edited with Peter Rawson. Ironically, Pat was persuaded to take on this mammoth task due to his critical, but generally constructive, comments on the first edition of this fundamental text.

Sadly, active retirement was cut short by ill health. The early stages of Pat’s vascular complaint limited his and Barbara’s activities. Barbara sadly died in early 2009 and Pat moved to a care home in Cambridgeshire, where he was close to some of his family when he died on 24 March.

By Steve Donovan, Dave Harper & Jim Marshall