Obituary for A D Lewis
A D Lewis CEng, Prof MICME, MIMMM
The UK foundry industry recently lost one of its most admired educationalists, with the death of Mr A D Lewis. Derek Lewis, for some 40 years, taught, inspired and guided generations of young foundrymen who attended courses in the West Midlands. He was also a central figure in the activities of the West Midlands, Birmingham and Coventry Branch of the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers.
Derek commenced his career as a general apprentice in the foundry of Sykes and Harrison, Limited, Manchester and Bangor, becoming assistant to the foundry manager when he was no more than 18 years of age. He was awarded the Associateship of Manchester College of Technology in Metallurgy in 1952, through evening study, having by then joined Henry Wallwork & Company, Limited, as a moulding plant supervisor on what was then a revolutionary twin-strand boxless vertical-joint greensand moulding layout. With encouragement and support from the company, he attended the National Foundry College, Wolverhampton. As a result, he was awarded the College’s Diploma in 1955. He subsequently returned to Henry Wallwork as a member of the foundry technical and management team.
Derek’s first venture into education had occurred a year previously when he took up part-time lecturing at Wolverhampton & Staffordshire College of Education. This was to provide the stepping-stone to his lifetime’s vocation. He became a lecturer at the National Foundry College in 1958 and was subsequently appointed a senior lecturer in 1963. In June, 1963, Derek was elected a Member of the Institute of British Foundrymen, having first joined as an Associate Member in 1954. He later qualified as a Chartered Engineer and became a Member of the Institute of Metals. He was also a Member of the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing.
Long a passionate supporter of the National Foundry College, he was a vigorous defender of the establishment in the face of plans to shut down the facility, as part of Government plans in the 1960’s, to close all monotechnics in favour of polytechnics. The battle having been lost, he was involved in the negotiations which led to the transfer of the National Foundry College’s work to the then Wednesbury College of Technology in 1967. At the same time, plans were being laid for the building of up-to-date metallurgical and foundry facilities within the new West Bromwich College of Commerce & Technology. This was to be later renamed the Sandwell College of Further & Higher Education. Derek was appointed the establishment’s first principal lecturer in the field of castings production in 1969, becoming deputy head of the Department of Metallurgy in 1978 and of Metallurgy & Materials Technology in 1987. He was appointed head of the new school of Materials and Foundry Studies in 1990.
If education was central to Derek’s life, so was the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers. Within the colleges, he played a leading role in the organisation of apprentice competitions and other events involving young foundrymen. In the West Midlands Branch and the Birmingham Branch which preceded it, he was a dedicated and enthusiastic member. He was president of the Birmingham Branch in 1971-72 and was long a member of the organisation’s Education Committee. He represented the Institute on the City & Guilds and West Midlands Advisory Committees. Derek was also a member of the FITC Committees covering company training and technician, technologist, supervisory and management aspects. He also served on the Institute’s Working Groups, Literary Awards and Membership Committees and on General Council. He was also a member of the organising committee for the ICME Patternmaking Apprentice Competition. In 1991, he was awarded the Institute’s E J Fox Medal.
Derek never forgot his long-term association with the National Foundry College and was a prominent member of its ‘old-boys’ organisation, the Foundry College Association, serving terms as both its president and its secretary. It is said that he never missed a meeting, until its closure in October, 2006.
Derek’s funeral was attended by many of his ex-students, his contemporaries at the National Foundry College and members of the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers. He is survived by his wife Alice, and his son Philip and our sympathies are extended to them.