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ROBINSON , GILBERT WOODING ( 1888 - 1950 ), professor of Agricultural Chemistry, world authority on soils ;

b. at Wolverhampton , 7 Nov. 1888 , s. of John Fairs and Mary Emma Robinson . He was educated at Wolverhampton grammar school and Cambridge University where he was a scholar of Caius College ( B.A. 1910 ). For two years he acted as demonstrator in the School of Agriculture at Cambridge and completed a survey of the soils and agriculture of Shropshire ( 1913 ). In 1912 he was appointed adviser in Agricultural Chemistry under the Board of Agriculture for the north Wales area at University College , Bangor , a post he held until the service was re-organised in 1946 . In 1926 he was appointed Professor of Agricultural Chemistry at Bangor , and became a world authority on soils , his early research being on the palaeozoic soils of north Wales and on the mechanical analysis of soils . He built up a school of research in his dept . at Bangor , initiated a Soil Survey of Wales and trained many graduate surveyors for this work in Britain and overseas. He became the first director of the National Soil Survey of England and Wales from 1939 to 1946 when the service was transferred to Rothamsted . Robinson was a prominent figure in the International Society of Soil Science , he attended its first Congress in USA in 1925 , and was president of its first Commission for several years. He travelled widely in Europe , West Indies , USA , and Africa , and in 1949 visited Australia and New Zealand as a delegate of the Royal Society to the Pacific Science Congress . He was devoted to Spain and its language, was hon. member of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas , and held its medal of distinction . He was interested in the classics ; he was President of the North Wales Branch of the Classical Association in 1928 .

His book Soils, their origin, constitution and classification ( 1932 ) was the first English textbook on pedology. In 1937 he published Mother earth in the form of letters to R.G. Stapledon (see below) revealing his Virgilian outlook on the countryside, and wrote many technical articles to scientific journals . He received many honours — Cambridge Sc.D. in 1936 , F.R.S . and C.B.E. in 1948 . He was a J.P. for Caernarfonshire and served on the Departmental Committee on Rural Education in Wales ( 1928-30 ), the Central Advisory Council for Education in Wales , and as a devoted member of The Church in Wales he was Chairman of the Bangor Diocesan Religious Education Committee , and on the Governing Body of the Church in Wales from 1939 . He was vice-principal of University College Bangor in 1947-48 and Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1948 .

In 1913 he m. (1) Winifred Annie Rushworth of Louth , Lincolnshire , and they had one s. and three dau. In 1949 he m. (2) Mary Isabel , dau. of H.L. James , Dean of Bangor . He d. in Bangor on 6 May 1950 .


  • Journal of Soil Science (1950-1993) , 2, no. 2, 1951 ;
  • Agricultural Progress the journal of the Agricultural Education Association (London) , 25, pt. 1, 1951 ;
  • Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society (London, 1932-54) , vol. 7, Nov. 1951 ;
  • Who's who? .


Emeritus Professor Robert Alun Roberts, C.B.E., Ph.D. (1894-1969), Bangor

Published date: 2001