Charles Stanley Windebank: 1967—1968

Charles Stanley Windebank: 1967—1968

Charles Stanley Windebank was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire in November 1912. His initial academic honours were First Class degrees in Science and Chemistry at London University and he followed these with valuable industrial experience from 1932 to 1935 at the works of Chance Brothers & Company Ltd, the glass manufacturers. In 1935 he was awarded a Salters' Fellowship in Industrial Chemistry which enabled him to study chemical engineering at University College London where he was granted a Diploma. He then obtained an MS in 1937 after working with Professor W K Lewis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On his return from the United States he was offered a post with the International Association (Petroleum Industry) Ltd, helping to look after Esso's interests in Europe. These included marketing co-ordination, development, and technical service activities. 

Soon after the war started Charles Windebank, who had been a Territorial, went to France with the Royal Tank Regiment. He returned to England in 1940, via Rouen and St Malo, and was released from the Army to continue wartime activities dealing with aviation fuel and lubricant supplies. It was towards the end of the war that his far-seeing influence on a small nucleus of people, working for Esso European Laboratories, began to be felt. At this time he also became more closely associated with Professor R H Garner, Sir Hugh Tett and Dr E V Murphree. From 1946 to 1949 he was Research Manager at Esso, Abingdon, and subsequently from 1949 to 1960 was first Managing Director and then Chairman of the Esso Research Ltd based in Abingdon and London. He had wide technical responsibilities, orientated towards Europe, for petroleum product and engineering developments. During his fruitful directorship very many technological accomplishments, assessed in terms of profitable innovations, contributed to the growth of Esso's activities in Europe.

After spending several months at the Harvard School of Business Administration, Charles Windebank was assigned, in 1961, to Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) in New York. Here his great experience in technical developments and his broad perception and ability to work with scientists at all levels, proved invaluable as Chairman of New Uses Activities; many of these activities were orientated towards underdeveloped countries. Following his return from New York in 1963, he became Research and Development Adviser to the Board of Esso Petroleum Company Ltd.

Charles Windebank's travels and industrial and scientific contacts had been exceptionally extensive but despite this he maintained close support and contacts with universities and professional bodies such as the Institute of Petroleum and, in particular, IChemE. He was a member and later Chairman of the Nomination Committee from 1960 to 1963, a Member of Council from 1959 to 1962 and prior to taking on the Presidency was Vice President of the Institution. He was also the Chairman of the Organisation Committee for the International Symposium on Distillation held in Brighton in 1960 - one of the most successful international meetings ever held by the Institution at that time. 

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