In 1956 the Manchester College of Science and Technology (also the Faculty of Technology of the Victoria University of Manchester through which body the College awarded degrees) gained its Royal Charter. Vivian Bowden, the Principal of the College, invited Professor Frank Morton and T.K. (Ken) Ross to move from Birmingham and establish a new department of chemical engineering bringing together the College’s existing interests in applied chemistry.
Ross had become aware of corrosion problems in industry around 1947 during his PhD in London and was amongst the first to recognise that the adverse impact of corrosion on industry also directly affected everyday life by increasing costs and reducing service life. After moving to Manchester, Ross established a new and vibrant research activity within the new Department of Chemical Engineering concerned with the study and practical prevention of corrosion in the chemical and process industries. In 1966, the Manchester College of Science and Technology gained its Royal Charter as the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).
The Hoar Report
Dr. T.P (Sam) Hoar (University of Cambridge) was invited to chair the “Committee on Corrosion and its Prevention” established by Tony Benn and invited Ken Ross to join. In February 1971, the committee reported its conclusions that the cost of materials degradation amounted to around 3% of the UK’s Gross National Product annually and that around one-quarter of this sum could be saved by the application of known technologies. Amongst the committee’s recommendations were the establishment of a National Corrosion Service, to undertake forensic analysis of corrosion failures and provide supporting advice to industry, and the expansion of research and teaching in the subject of corrosion at university level.
Corrosion and Protection Centre
Following on from the Hoar Report, the Corrosion & Protection Centre was founded in 1972 as an autonomous postgraduate department of UMIST led by Professor Graham Wood (Britain’s 1st “Professor of Rust”). Expanding to an academic staff complement of ten, by 1980 it had become the world’s largest academic institute focussing on the study and prevention of materials degradation. At one time over half the world’s corrosion engineers outside North America had passed through its doors.
In 1973 a consulting service, the Corrosion and Protection Centre Industrial Service (CAPCIS), was also established in support of Hoar’s recommendations. Over the next 30 years CAPCIS grew to become a major consulting organisation with its own laboratories adjacent to the UMIST campus. It directly employed over 60 staff, turning over > £3m per annum by 1990. As such, it became the largest independent corrosion consultancy in the world, spawning a number of spin-off companies. Now fully divested by the University of Manchester, CAPCIS still exists within the Intertek group of companies and remains a major corrosion consultancy business some 50 years after its foundation.