Harry Barrow obituary

Other lives: Mechanical engineer and academic who made a major contribution to the science of tunnel cooling

My grandad, Henry Barrow, known as Harry, who has died aged 95, was a mechanical engineer and expert in heat transfer who spent more than three decades at the University of Liverpool. His work made a major contribution to the science of tunnel cooling.

Born in Liverpool, the younger child of Catherine (nee Boyd) and her husband, James Barrow, a bakery packer, Harry attended Oulton high school and was the first person in his family to go to university, graduating from the University of Liverpool in 1944 with a first-class honours degree in marine engineering.

Harry served in the engineering branch of the Royal Navy from 1944 to 1947, first in Portsmouth and then in the Mediterranean. On his return to the UK in 1947, he married Christina O’Brien, who had grown up a few streets away from him in Fairfield, Liverpool. They went on to have two children, Stephen and Janet.

Henry undertook further practical training at Vickers-Armstrongs in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, before teaching at Liverpool Technical College. In 1951, he was appointed as a lecturer in the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Liverpool. Following the completion of his PhD, he was promoted to senior lecturer in 1964 and then to reader in 1979. He published more than 90 articles in scientific journals during his career. Harry retired in 1984, but continued to teach part-time in the department of engineering until 1987.

On retirement, Harry found a new focus for his expertise. Development work on the Channel tunnel had highlighted the need to mitigate thermal problems in long railway tunnels, both for safety and for passenger comfort. Working with Clive Pope, an expert in train aerodynamics, over the next 20 years he made a major contribution to the science of tunnel cooling, receiving funding from British Rail, Crossrail and Mott MacDonald. In recognition of his scholarship, he was awarded a doctorate of engineering by Liverpool University in 2005. Despite research success, Harry was committed to teaching and maintained lifelong contact with his former PhD students.

Outside work, Grandad enjoyed oil painting and watching snooker, rugby and football, but, even in his later years, he could often be found sitting in his chair writing equations and theorising. He also delighted in sharing his experiments – and magic tricks – with each new generation of the family.

Christina died in 2012. He is survived by their children, his grandchildren, Lois, Louise, Samuel and me, and great-grandchildren, Harry, James, Sophia, and Joanna.

Amy Barrow

The GuardianTramp

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