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Farewell to a free thinker - Dr Alan Wells

Connect, no. 141, March - April 2006, p.3

Dr Alan Wells, past Director General of The Welding Institute, died at the end of last year.
Dr Alan Wells, past Director General of The Welding Institute, died at the end of last year.

By the time he retired in the summer of 1988 he had completed 25 years at Great Abington, the last 11 in the top job. His relationship with TWI, formerly the British Welding Research Association and The Welding institute, dated back to 1950.

As a fellow of the Royal Society, Dean of Faculty for four of his years at Queen's, Belfast, a recipient of the OBE and one of the very few non-Americans to have contributed to the US Navy's brittle fracture work, he believed his career peaked relatively early.

His fondest memories of Great Abington related to his work on the now established Wells wide plate test. At the time he noted 'We were breaking new ground. Testing the plates required compact 600 tonne capacity equipment.... none of us will forget the first successful fracture test' he recalled. 'About half a tonne of equipment flew out of the end of the hut'.

Shortly after retirement his distinctive figure cut a dash on the nightly news when covering the UK's Clapham rail disaster investigation.

When pressed at his retirement as to how, given the chance, he would replay the past eleven years he paused eventually replying 'It's too close for reflection... ask me in two years' time'.

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