Herbert William Cremer CBE: 1947—1949

Herbert William Cremer CBE: 1947—1949

Herbert William Cremer was born in 1893 at Faversham in Kent and was educated at King's School, Canterbury before entering King's College, London where, with a then unorthodox incursion into biochemical fields, he obtained a first-class honours degree in Chemistry and the Daniell Research Prize. 

On the outbreak of World War I he went to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and then to the Oldbury explosives factory, from where he was transferred as sub-manager of the TNT section of the Queensferry factory where he met and successfully handled the day-to-day problems of the heavy chemical industry. Subsequently he was transferred to the headquarters staff of the Department of Explosives Supply as assistant to the late K B Quinan, of whom he always spoke with the greatest regard; and later, in conjunction with the late William Macnab, a past President of the Institution, he edited for publication the well-known Technical Records of the Department of Explosives Supply.

Such a career encouraged him on his return to academic life to press for the development of more teaching facilities in chemical engineering. Making the most of his opportunities as Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at King's  College, London, he persevered until he had created a well-recognised postgraduate course in chemical engineering, a task which had to be relinquished on the outbreak of the 2nd World War, when he was asked by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners to assist them in the development of explosives filling factories. When this task came to an end, he established a private consulting practice as a Chemical Engineering Consultant, but at the same time maintaining a close association with his former civil engineering colleagues.

In his spare time he enjoyed spending time moving around the sand banks of the Thames in a sailing barge of considerable age and his exploration of the rivers and creeks of Kent, Essex and Suffolk in such a craft may have fitted him for the eventual appointment as Chairman of the Thames Survey Committee, an offshoot of the DSIR Water Pollution research organisation of which Board he was also in charge at the time. 

As well as the professional duties that Herbert Cremer carried out for the Institution, he was also actively involved in a number of other organisations: he was Chairman of the Chemical Engineering Group, Honorary Secretary, and also Vice President of the Society of Chemical Industry; he served on the Council of the Royal Institute of Chemistry and for many years as a Director of the Bureau of Abstracts. His interests in the academic sphere were reflected in the numerous examinerships he held from time to time and also the readiness with which he was prepared to serve on committees advising on matters affecting chemical engineering education. For many years he was the examiner in Industrial Chemistry for the Royal Institute of Chemistry, and his own prowess as a teacher was reflected in a survey of the careers of the students who passed through his hands at King's College.

Other bodies on which he served included the Executive Committee of the National Physical Laboratory, the Scientific Committee for Germany of the Foreign Office, the Technology Committee of the University Grants Committee, and on the joint organisation set up by that body and the National Advisory Council for Education in Industry and Commerce. He was a member of the Chemical Council, of the National Committee for Chemistry of the Royal Society, and of the Technology Committee of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

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