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Professor Emeritus John Atkinson 

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Year of death




John was born in Kingston-upon-Hull, in Yorkshire, and attended Hull Grammar School.

He then studied Metallurgy at Aston University obtaining a BSc Hons degree. An MSc course in Physics of Materials at Bristol University was followed by a CEGB sponsored PhD at The Cavendish Laboratory. His thesis was on the ‘Fatigue Mechanisms in Copper Single Crystals’.

On completion in 1973, he was invited to apply for a Research Officer position in the Materials Division at the CEGB research laboratories in Leatherhead, Surrey (known as CERL). He worked there, on a variety of power plant problems associated with cracking, for nearly 20 years, until privatisation of the electricity supply industry in the late 80s led to a move to academia when he took a Professorial post in the Engineering Department at Sheffield City Polytechnic (which later became Sheffield Hallam University).

He was a member of the International Co-operative Group on Environmentally Assisted Cracking (ICGEAC) from 1978 to 2008 (whilst at CERL, NPTEC and Sheffield Hallam University) and spent nine years as Chair of the Low Alloy Steels (LAS) Task Group, with duties on the Executive Committee.

At Sheffield Hallam John had a busy life, developing teaching material on up to 15 Materials-based modules at BEng, and MSc level, as well as carrying out contract research on cracking issues for the relocated power companies. He supervised 6 PhD students to completion and, during Science Week, gave several public lectures in Sheffield on nuclear power issues. John’s dedication to the field of metallurgy made him a respected voice on the subject of metal fatigue during a long and productive career. He retired in 2015 and ceased his consultancy work with the power industries to pursue his hobby of restoring rusty old Porsche 356 cars and to spend time with his family – wife Sue, children Jane and Neil and five grandchildren.