Plastics and a man named Yarsley

Victor Emmanuel Yarsley M.Sc., D.Sc.Tech.(Zurich), F.R.I.C., F.P.I., M.I.Chem.E, OBE 1901- 1994
Victor Emmanuel Yarsley M.Sc., D.Sc.Tech.(Zurich), F.R.I.C., F.P.I., M.I.Chem.E, OBE 1901- 1994
Image courtesy of Rosemary Collins © 2009

If, in a minute, you should raise your eyes from this text and cast your eyes around your environment, I wonder how many things you would see made from some kind of plastic? Before plastic was discovered, all our everyday needs were met by the use of wood, glass, metal, paper, ceramics and woven cloth made from natural materials.

Now, from the plastic cribs in hospitals in which we are first placed, along with feeding bottles, disposable nappies and toys, we start our lives connecting almost every day with something made from plastic.

We all accept this medium as part and parcel of our modern lives but many of us do not realise that the first type of 'plastic' (from the Greek 'plastkos' = to mould) was in fact made as far back in 1712 when a John O'Brisset moulded snuffboxes from horn. The art of making items from horns was classified under the umbrella heading of "Plastic" - a term which covers anything that in its time 'flows' and can be formed to a desired shape by the application of heat and pressure. The exception to this rule was rubber. The term 'Plastic' was never well liked in the early 1920's, when it was first suggested, but preferable to suggestions such as "plasthetics".

One of the first plastics to be made from plant extract was cellulose, which is a natural substance that gives strength and flexibility to the stems and leaves of plants. This was extracted from wood pulp by dissolving the pulp in caustic soda, which made a liquid with the consistency of syrup. This liquid was named 'Viscose'. Viscose could be flattened into a thin film and used to make adhesive tape, carrier bags etc. as well as being added to natural fibres to make many articles such as carpets, tea bags and clothes to name just a few. Without plastics the photographic film, the cinema and gramophone records might not have been possible. Perhaps, for women, the greatest use of this discovery in 1910 was that of the manufacture of viscose stockings.

Plastics were, by 1930, divided into two main groups:
  • Thermoplastics e.g. nylon, polyethylene, polystyrene, acrylic and PVC, all of which when heated will soften, melt and then set when cooled. So, unless the process was repeated again, the item would stay the same shape. This makes it ideal for recycling. These plastics are ideal for use in mass production as they can be used for moulding by injection or blowing methods.
    Nylon is now used for everything from clothes through to machine gears and bearings. Polyethylene plastic has a range of uses from food containers to gas pipes.
    Standard polystyrene is used in injection moulding and blow moulding, and although rigid and brittle, is used for producing packaging and various model kits.
    Acrylic is not only strong and comes in a range of colours but also opaque, translucent or transparent, which is as clear as glass and so is used for camera and spectacle lenses.
    PVC is a movable material used, for example, in the making of shower curtains, rucksacks and clothing.

  • Thermosets was a term used for plastics, such as polyester, that would set permanently when heated, and not able to be melted again to re-use. Polyester is hard and brittle but it can be combined with fibreglass to produce a glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), which is used for car bodies, sailing boats and furniture.
The future use of plastic was summed up by the words of two applied chemists, Dr. Victor Emmanuel Yarsley and Edward Gordon Couzens, who announced in the first of their co-authored books 'Plastics', which was published by Penguin books in 1941, that
"plastic would created a world brighter and clearer than any previously known."
Not only did they claim that plastics would help the allies win World War II by replacing scarce materials such as metal and wood, they also visualised that man would live in
"a world free from moth and rust and full of colour"
('Plastics' Yarsley and Couzens 1941, p. 57)
"a world in which man, like a magician makes what he wants for almost every need, out of what is beneath him and around him: coal, water, and air"
('Plastics' Yarsley and Couzens 1941, p. 68).
The quote above from their book, referring to coal, is where the plastics pioneer Doctor Victor Emmanuel Yarsley's story begins. Born into a family of coal miners, which can be traced back to 1750 from Shieff Hales in Shropshire, Victor Emmanuel Yarsley was born on 1 February 1901, at Chase Terrace Cannock Road Burntwood Lichfield Staffordshire, to Emmanuel and Clara Ellen (nee Lees) Yarsley. His parents had married in the same district in 1896. In his later years Victor would quip that he came into this world at the time that the body of Queen Victoria was being taken by gun carriage to Windsor.

Victor Yarsley as a child
Victor Yarsley as a child
Image courtesy of Rosemary Collins © 2009

In the 1901 England census, the Yarsley family lived in Causerock Road Chase Town Burntwood Staffordshire (situated north of Walsall and Birmingham, west of Lichfield). Victor's father, Emmanuel, was recorded as being a 36-year-old coal miner, with the addition of 'Rock Nipper' added to the record, while 32-year-old Clara was listed as two-month-old Victor's mother. His father Emmanuel eventually became a mining colliery manager.

Victor had a younger sister named Edna Ellen, who was born in 1905.

Victor Yarsley with sister Edna and parents in Chaseton
Victor Yarsley with sister Edna and parents in Chaseton
Image courtesy of Rosemary Collins © 2009

Victor and Edna's mother Clara, was a schoolteacher and she encouraged them in their studies from a very early age. With such a good start to Victor's education it was not surprising that, aged 13, he won a county scholarship to Queen Mary's Grammar School in Walsall, matriculating with Joint Board First Class in 1919. The following year, 1920, he entered Birmingham University on a County Major Scholarship and, after studying under Sir Gilbert Morgan, he graduated in 1923 with a First Class Honours in chemistry, physics and mathematics. He went on to research the co-ordination compounds of platinum and palladium, after which he obtained a Master of Science degree in 1924.

His plans, and that of his parents, were for him to become a teacher like his mother but in 1924 he won the Salters Fellowship. The Salters' Institute of Industrial Chemistry initially founded this Fellowship in 1918, to assist young chemistry students returning from WW1 to complete their studies.

The Times, Tuesday, Sep 16, 1924
The Times, Tuesday, Sep 16, 1924

He went on to spend another year at Birmingham with a Ph.D. in view. Here external circumstances meant that instead of proceeding with his training to become a teacher he opted to devote his efforts to industrial chemistry and, on advice from his tutor, Victor went on in 1925 to train under Professor Hans Edward Fierz- David in Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. It was here that he first made contact with the almost unknown branch of chemistry designated 'plastics'. He was awarded a DSc (Tech) for his thesis on the preparation and physical properties of cellulose acetate in 1927. Dr Yarsley as he was now titled, spent a further year assisting his Professor in Zurich, and went on to become one of our most eminent chemist experts, specialising in cellulose acetate plastics.

[Cellulose acetate (CA) was produced commercially as sheet, tubes and rod material in about 1927 and as moulding powder in about 1930. It was sold under such names as Bexoid, Celastoid, Celamold and Erinofort. Because of it being available in a multitude of colours and its smooth toughness, it was widely used for all sorts of things that required a 'natural' feel to them, such as toys, tool handles and spectacle frames. Early spectacle frames were cut from sheet material, the favourite colour being 'imitation tortoiseshell'. Another thing in its favour was that CA was made entirely from renewable resources and, most importantly when used by a method called 'injection moulding', a material suited to mass production.

By the 1930's scientists had discovered how to man-make the long chain shaped molecules found in natural cellulose and called the chemical process 'polymerisation', which explains why a lot of plastics are prefixed with 'poly'. With the introduction of plastic that could now imitate expensive materials such as ivory, amber, and pearl, fashionable items, such as jewellery, suddenly became available to people of moderate means and not just the wealthy. More importantly, during WWII, the use of cellulose acetate was used in the making of the windows of gas masks.]

It was while Victor was studying in Zurich, having completed his thesis in 1928 and learnt fluent German, that he met his Swiss born wife Louise Sandmeier. Louise's uncle was also an eminent Swiss chemist.

In 1928 the couple returned to England to marry in a registry office and, after honeymooning in Eastbourne, set up home in a semi-detached rented house in Burleigh Bridges Lane, Beddington, Surrey. Dr. Yarsley took employment as chief chemist with the newly founded organisation called the Non-Inflammable Film Company. This company, situated in Waddon, attempted to specialise in a completely untried process, using cellulose acetate, to make non-inflammable industrial cine film. In Dr Yarsley's own words "this was found to be unworkable" and although he travelled widely around Europe looking for the solution, the company went into liquidation in 1931 leaving debts behind, a £500,000 plant and disillusioned staff to find jobs in the middle of the 1930-1931 depression.

During this time, in November 1930, Victor and Louise's daughter Rosemary was born in Carshalton.

Building a large wooden shed at the bottom of his garden in Beddington (without planning permission), Dr. Yarsley continued with his research. After much thought Dr. Yarsley decided to become an independent consultant and researcher specialising in CA and attached a brass plate to his premises stating "Consulting Chemist". By taking this path he was able to supply advice, using his past experience and knowledge in laboratory research, and then eventually expand into sponsored research and development in high polymers and related materials. This also led him to act in an advisory capacity in litigation matters and as an expert witness in patent infringement and other law suits.

Throughout the 1930's he operated as a one-man-band making contracts with companies such as the Cellulose Acetate Silk Company (later known as Lansil), Geigy and British Xylonite Ltd where he laid down the foundations for what was to become the largest cellulose acetate film manufacturing plant in the world. Newtex Safety Glass Co. Ltd., who manufactured laminated safety glass, also retained him.

However, complaints were made in 1933 to the Croydon council about his 'Laboratory' in the shed and he had notice to demolish it immediately.

The Yarsley family moved to Ewell in 1933 and lived for nearly 30 years at "Sunmatt" 85 The Green Ewell Surrey. Dr. Yarsley continued his research in an extended garage once again in his garden.

Sunmatt 85 The Green Ewell Surrey
"Sunmatt" 85 The Green Ewell Surrey in 2009
Image courtesy of Hazell Ballan © 2009

Rosemary has many memories of her father working in his different home laboratories experimenting with all sorts of chemicals to find the perfect mix to make 'plastic film without air bubbles in it' etc. and particularly remembers, when they moved to their home in Holmbury St Mary, the awful smells which emanated from 'the lab' as he tested his next mix. In an effort to stop the smells she covered any holes in her room with "sticky tape". Rosemary also remembers her father's efforts to make better dentures from his special mixes of plastic. At this time only one in seven people used toothbrushes resulting in a great need for comfortable dentures, better tooth fillings and the actual process of moulding the gums and remaining teeth, which was needed for the making of dentures. Dr Yarsley helped develop all of these, with his later established research team, including Mr Cheetham and Mr Shelton.

Rosemary attended the Bluegates School in Ewell. This was a small privately run school situated in a house opposite the Organ Inn public house in Ewell (on the corner where the BP fuel station is now). After attending Sherborne School in Dorset, she trained at St Thomas's Hospital in London and, after qualifying as a nurse, went on to become a Theatre Sister.

Needing more space than his garage for his one of his projects, Dr Yarsley established a laboratory within 'The London Capsule Co.Ltd.' in Mitcham, who manufactured the petrol filled "Petrolite" capsules, which were used for filling up cigarette lighters. Here he hoped to find a way to replace the gelatine they used, in the making of the capsules, with cellulose acetate film (Bexoid). Sadly the company burnt down after an employee struck a match while working. Health and Safety today (2009) would have had a field day!

Between 1935-1960 Dr. Yarsley wrote a monthly contribution to the 'Times Review of Industry'. During 1936 Dr. Yarsley also worked closely with the BBC to produce aluminium recording discs that were spun and covered in plastic.

By the autumn of 1941 Dr.Yarsley needed larger premises to house his extensive collection of scientific books and papers, and also needed 'colleagues' to help him in his research. He purchased a detached house, 1 Ewell House Grove, in Ewell village and went on to employ 15 staff including Mr C A Minors, a young graduate, who became his personal assistant. The postal address became prefixed with the name 'The Laboratory'.

Dr Yarsley wrote:
"As my work related mainly to war-time needs, the authorities turned a blind eye on 'planning', and I was given permission to use the house "for the period of the war and six months thereafter. The house at No. 1 Ewell House Grove was a substantial detached building with spacious dining room and lounge with kitchen and larder and 'usual offices' on the ground floor, and corresponding four bedrooms and bathroom on the first floor. They were conveniently placed to operate a separate 'discipline' in each room. The main lounge I reserved as my office and reception room, but necessity soon made a change necessary, the large room being given over to physical testing, whilst I located my control office in a small front bedroom. Initially I arranged in addition to physical testing an organic laboratory, technology in the kitchen, chemical store in the larder, and solvent store in the erstwhile coalbunker. The garage was extended several feet and housed the large operating plant which included a 50 ton Finney press, manually operated, a 4'x2' steam-heated oven, two stainless steel 2 gallon reactors and miscellaneous items required at the development stage.

The various laboratories were fitted throughout as necessary with Gallenkamp prefabricated cupboard and sink units and power, water and gas were laid on. At the time I gave little thought to the matter, but in retrospect it is surprising that the power cables, which were only designed for a private house, carried the load which was at times put upon them. A motorised flat-bed film-casting machine was built by a small Ewell engineering works, and this was housed in the physical testing laboratory on the ground floor by reason of its bulk and weight. The most elaborate unit in physical testing was a standard Hounsfield Tensometer which was power driven and adjusted for varying speeds. For the rest, the demand was mainly for glassware and chemicals; the latter included both common reagents and solvents, and those most likely to be used as plasticisers, or in their preparation.

Pride of place was given to the library in the main bedroom, the small back room served as the general office with telephone exchange (Plan 7) installed. Library shelves provided me with exercise in simple carpentry, but proved quite efficient and at first adequate to house my literature collection, which by now had grown to considerable proportions. The bathroom provided space for a photographic dark room, indeed I found photomicrographs most useful in much of my work both on film and on cellulose acetate. The keynote of the whole layout was flexibility and indeed this continued throughout our work; apparatus, plant and space had to be arranged or changed to meet the needs of varying projects, even though these were on a small scale at the start."
Front Exterior View Interior view with Owen Duckfield, Peter Stemp, and Graham Ives
Interior view with Brian Thomas Interior view with Yarsley's Assistant Charles Minors
Pictures of 'The Lab' in Ewell,
[top row l to r] a. Front Exterior View b. Interior view with Owen Duckfield, Peter Stemp, and Graham Ives
[bottom row l to r] c. Interior view with Brian Thomas d. Interior view with Yarsley's Assistant Charles Minors
Images courtesy of Rosemary Collins © 2009

Due to his age and the important nature of Dr. Yarsley's work he was exempt from enlisting during World War II, but did contribute in other important ways as a research chemist. Because of the shortage of wood during the war years and after, this included research into developing a process that would bond sawdust together to make structural boards, the forerunner of chipboard. This research expanded and due to Dr Yarsley and his team's efforts, eventually led to the production of glass fibre, known today as GRP - glass reinforced plastic - which is used for making boats, planes, cars and many other items that we all take for granted today.

A claim on the BBC website says that Dr Yarsley was the inventor of the Resorcinol glue, which was used in the making of the De Havilland Mosquito aeroplanes. As his research included the said bonding of sawdust there is a possibility that the claim is in some way correct even though no other documentary evidence has been found to confirm this.

Steps were taken, in case of a direct hit from German bombs, to protect his work done in The Laboratory in Ewell by opening another 'shadow laboratory' near Dr.Yarsley's hometown, at 24 Lichfield St Walsall Staffordshire under the name of 'Dr V E Yarsley, Consulting Chemist' Here, a head chemist named Dr H Kitchen and 14 staff worked closely with the Ewell branch.

Dr Yarsley wrote:
"It was not until the move from Ewell to Chessington ten years later that we were indeed horrified to see the danger to which we had been exposed to at the Ewell laboratory, since the loft had been used as general store and contained a large number of nitro cotton from which the methanol "damping" had long evaporated. Mercifully that particular spot escaped Hitler's firebombs, as otherwise, the proverbial "Roman Candle" would have been nothing by comparison".
During 1946 he wrote 'Plastics Applied' (The National Trade Press, London). This was a survey of patent and technical literature with collected data of interest and illustrations for users of plastics in all branches of the industry.

In 1947, maybe in response to Dr.Yarsley's many publications and lectures, Birmingham Central Technical College realised the need to for the study of plastics technology, and provided new laboratories in Nelson Street for comprehensive courses to be run to meet the requirements of students. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham officially opened the laboratories on 18 September 1947. The ceremony was preceded by a luncheon, which was attended by representatives of the industry as well as by civic officials, and included Dr. V. E. Yarsley, now the chairman of the Educational Committee of the Institute of Plastics. Later he became an Honorary Associate of the Birmingham College of Technology.

In 1950, having outstayed his allotted time by the council to use the private house as his laboratory in Ewell village, Dr. Yarsley, using his carefully accumulated savings, purchased the freehold to a large 3 storey Victorian house named 'Oaklands', that was situated in 2 acres of land in Clayton Road Chessington. This move not only included his Ewell staff, but also that of the staff from his laboratory in Walsall Staffordshire, which had also closed. In 1951 his company became 'Limited', resulting in his entry in the phone book becoming 'Dr. V.E Yarsley (Research Laboratories) Ltd. To shorten this the laboratory was now to be known as YRL.

Advert in 'The Analyst' for staff 1952
Advert in 'The Analyst' for staff 1952

By the time the phone book for 1957 was issued this entry included 'Plastic Testing Labs'. This branch of the firm became known as YTL. As the entire company expanded to 50+ staff, three extra single storey buildings were built, while a canteen was provided for them in a Nissan hut.

Ariel photo of YRL

Dr. Yarsley was associated with a number of plastics and polymer associations and universities:
  • Chairman of "The Plastics and Polymer Group of the Society of Chemical Industry" (1938-40);
  • President of 'The Plastics Institute';
  • Chairman of the 'Plastics Industry Educational Fund' (1953-55);
  • Member of The National Advisory Council for Education in Industry and Commerce;
  • Member of Board of Governors of the National College of Rubber Technology;
  • Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry;
  • Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers;
  • Member of Board of Governors of the Chelsea College of Science and Technology;
  • Member of Board of Governors of Kingston College.
He was also an active Freemason and Master of two Lodges.

Dr. Yarsley was also connected to the Worshipful Company of Horners. Due to the newly awaken realisation of animal cruelty and the decline in trade of horn, this Company had lost its association with the ancient trade and, in 1943, the Company decided to adopt its modern equivalent, the Plastics Industry.

Research conducted at the YRL involved many different projects, such as this brief, carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Aviation, 'to develop low-loss dielectric materials for use at high operating temperatures'. As a result, a wide range of nuclear substituted styrenes were synthesised in order to study the properties of the resulting polymers. This work led eventually to a range of polymers with low-loss characteristics and softening points up to 200 degrees.

Yarsley's also became involved in radar lens development. Dr Yarsley wrote:
" The programme that followed lasted four years and involved the design, construction and use of a machine to prepare copper/polystyrene "Mosaic", the study and preparation of high temperature-resistant expanded polystyrene copolymer, the preparation of all materials for and the construction of prototype compound and Plano convex radar lens, together with epoxy resin/glass radomes in 18"(2 off), 27" (3 off) and 72" (2 off), diameters and all relevant testing. This was efficiently accomplished by Mr Cheetham and his team"
Flight - 8 May 1953
Flight - 8 May 1953

Dr. Yarsley wrote many articles for various papers and several books and, in 1956, Penguin published the books "Plastics in the Service of Man" followed in 1969 with "Plastics in a Modern World", both of which he co-wrote with Edward Gordon Couzens. Other titles can be found in the British Library catalogue.

The development of plastic artificial limbs was a project taken on in 1960, along with various companies' associated with the fitting of the limbs at Roehampton Hospital. Yarsleys was commissioned to study the whole process of fitting artificial limbs and to develop materials and processes for the custom fabrication of above-knee and below-knee artificial limbs. They were fortunate to have as a model, for testing out their prototype, Sir Douglas Bader.

Prosthetic finger, hand and face features
Prosthetic finger, hand and face features

By 1961 Dr Yarsley's research and testing business had again expanded by incorporating Caleb Brett & Son. This became known as 'Brett Yarsley Services' (BYS). Needing yet more space to accommodate this latest venture he decided in 1966 to open a separate testing lab for YTL and BYS, in The Street Ashtead. BYS later moved to a small factory block in Leatherhead where they conducted testing and analysing of oil products and so left YTL in Ashtead to continue with their tests of plastic-flammability and thermal testing research. About this time, in 1967, BYS Laboratories became 'Limited' making a 50/50 partnership between Caleb Brett & Son and YTL. This was followed in 1969 when Caleb Brett & Son made an offer for YTL's 50% share holding in the oil testing company, which they accepted.

As mentioned before, the company had conducted research into GRP, and the most outstanding example of this was the large-scale testing done by Dr Yarsley's colleague, Mr Berry, to gauge the suitability of the design, material and process for the making of the 800 moulded GRP units which were to be the roof of the Covent Garden Flower Market. At this time there were no British Standard Tests and so Yarsleys, in consultation with the Building Research Establishment, developed simulated service tests. Wind loading tests simulating a wind speed of 85 miles per hour, weight testing of 300mm of snow, fire resistance and the impact of a man falling on to the panels were just a few of the tests done. Similar tests were done on the panels for Mondial House and the International Telephone Exchange. As a result of these tests criteria's, several members from the staff of Yarsley's went on to acted as representatives on future BSI committees.

During Harold Wilson's term as Prime Minister, Dr. Yarsley was closely involved with the Weights and Calibration committee, and became the first Chairman of Panel 6 of the British Calibration Service dealing with Thermal Measurement.

At the same time as these major projects were being carried out, the Chessington laboratories were engaged in the day-to-day testing of moulded units, including the testing to BS specifications of literally hundreds of toilet seats.

A year later, in 1962, Dr Yarsley moved, with his family, from The Green in Ewell to Pitland Street House Holmbury St Mary. This was a very large beautiful old house, which Dr Yarsley and his wife Louise shared with their daughter Rosemary, her husband Dr. David Collins and their two children Peter and Nicola.

Dr. Yarsley's research benefited many areas in public life including improvements in the way that tobacco smoke filtering could be made "safer". In 1965 Yarsley submitted an improvement to the Patents office, which "proposed to use in cigarette filter tip, flake cellulose acetate which has a porous micro-rugose or pitted surface termed "active". Flake material possessing this broken or pitted surface is stated to be particularly efficient in the filtration of tobacco smoke."

On this matter, Dr Yarsley wrote:
"The project was to produce the 'ideal' cigarette filter tip. This came at a time when "tips" (if they were used) consisted mainly of cotton wool, and had little connection with the possible health hazard, which the cigarettes of that time embodied. This project lasted many years, and again it was for a client who was content to examine possible alternatives, rather than to have any specific end in view. The ultimate end was of course to cut out from the cigarette smoke all noxious constituents, nicotine, tar residuals etc., and this indeed we succeeded in doing to the extent of removing all flavour from the smoke, which was of course not very attractive to the smoker, who thus paid good money to inhale pure (or nearly so) hot air. The project was carried out for many years by Dr. Titow... In the end cellulose acetate fibre was found to be the most satisfactory".
In 1967 the Directorship of YRL was given over to Mr. L. W Turner and the position of Assistant Managing Director to Mr. Flavell.

Fulmer Research Institute Ltd and Yarsley Research Laboratories Ltd jointly announced in 1973 that agreement had been reached for transferring the present business of YRL at Chessington Surrey to the premises of Fulmer at Stoke Poges Buckinghamshire where Dr. Yarsley was invited to join the Fulmer's board of directors. The merger happened on 1 May 1973 and by this time Dr Yarsley's staff amounted to some 150 employees, all of whom he always referred to as 'colleagues'. The Ashtead staff were transferred to Redhill and designated as the Yarsley Technical Centre, YTC.

The Chessington property was eventually sold to the Kingston council and it was with some sadness that Dr Yarsley saw the fine Victorian house demolished. It is now a small housing estate.

Dr. Yarsley kept busy though, tending his rhododendrons bushes that were reputably 100 years old, oil painting and stamp collecting. He enjoyed his walks through the village where residents have fond memories of a shy and retiring gentleman who would raise his hat in passing and of his gentle smile and polite greeting to them.

At the age of 81 Dr Yarsley's great service to the plastic industry was at last recognised. He and his family were invited to Buckingham Palace, in 1982, to see him receive the OBE from Queen Elizabeth II. This was a very proud day for his family and friends but an award that was thought by many to have been very late in coming as it had been proposed 10 years earlier
The following year Dr. Yarsley's wife Louise died.

Victor Emmanuel Yarsley aged 93, after a short illness died on 13 June 1994 in Mount Alvernia Hospital in Guildford. A moving Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving was held at his local church and where he was described as a man with an impish sense of humour who enjoyed puns, the cornier the better. It was also commented that his writing, as of most 'Doctors', was hard to read. A certain amount of admiration therefore should been given to his secretary when she had been typing up his notes!

In summing up, it was quoted from a profile of him in the Surrey Comet on 12th May 1956 that " To meet Dr. V.E Yarsley dispels another fear; he is the most human man imaginable, a sort of universal uncle with a soft Midland burr and a smile as candid as it is warming" Obituaries appeared in The Times as well as several publications that Dr Yarsley had had dealings with over his long and successful working life.

Nearly 9 years later, on June 18 2003, the life and work of Dr. Victor Emmanuel Yarsley was further commemorated when a plaque from the Plastic Historical Society was unveiled at Dr Yarsley's last home, Lychgate House in Holmbury St Mary. This was attached to the wall of the half-hung tiled home situated on the corner of Pitland Street where Victor and his daughter Rosemary and son in law David had moved to in 1989, a short distance down the lane from their former home.

Plaque from the Plastic Historical Society
Plaque from the Plastic Historical Society
Image courtesy of Hazel Ballan © 2009

This article was researched and written by Hazel Ballan.

Dr. Victor Emmanuel Yarsley's Memoirs; Permission of extracts, photographs and verbal stories kindly given by his daughter Rosemary Collins.
Various papers, leaflets and extracts written by Dr.V. E Yarsley
Plastics' Yarsley and Couzens 1941, Penguin books
'Materials' Martin Holmes, British Library catalogue
Discovery 1947
Chemistry and Industry weekly publication 1964 (this website is no longer available)

Christian Friedrich Schönbein