9 July 2024
by Kovida Mehra

Obituary - Sir John Collyear FREng HonFIMMM

Sir John Collyear had a key role in several major industry and research organisations and was instrumental in bringing about the merger of the Institute of Ceramics, The Institute of Metals and The Plastics and Rubber Institute to form the Institute of Materials in 1992.

Sir John Collyear FREng HonFIMMM
19.2.1927- 19.3.2024

John Gowen Collyear was born in Hertfordshire on 19 February 1927.  He was the son of John Robert Collyear and his wife Amy Elizabeth, née Gowen. After a spell in the Royal Engineers, he attended Leeds University, graduating with a BSc degree in engineering and going on to become a graduate apprentice with Joseph Lucas Industries in Birmingham, in 1951.

Completing his graduate apprenticeship with Joseph Lucas Industries he continued there as a production engineer, moving in 1953 to a similar position with the Glacier Metal Company in Glasgow, where he was to remain for the major part of the next twenty years. In 1956 he became Production Manager, and later than same year was made Chief Production Engineer.

In 1959 John was promoted to Factory General Manager, remaining in that position for the next ten years, after which he was made Managing Director, then ultimately Chairman which is a role he then also carried out for Wellworthy Ltd. In 1975 he joined Associated Engineering Limited, as Managing Director of the bearings division, and in 1975 he became Group Managing Director of what was then AE plc. In 1981 he was made Chairman, and he remained in this role until 1986, when he moved to become Chairman of the MK Electric Group plc (1987–88). At this time he was also Chairman of Fulmer Ltd (1987–1991), and Chairman of USM Texon Ltd, formerly the United Machinery Group (1987–1995). In spite of a busy career, John also found the time to give back. The well-known report of the Collyear Committee ‘A programme for the Wider Application of New and Improved Materials and Processes’ was published in 1985 and he was an outside Director for the National Physical Laboratory.

From 1985 until 1988 he served as Chairman of the Technology Requirements Board of the Department of Trade and Industry, and from 1987 until 1997 he was the President of the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA). Following a previous appointment as Chairman of the Federation of Materials Institutes, John was instrumental in the merger of the Institute of Ceramics, The Institute of Metals and The Plastics and Rubber Institute. He became the first President of the newly formed Institute of Materials in January 1992, a position he held for two years prior to the eventual formation of IOM3.

John was knighted in 1986. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1979, and became an Honorary Fellow of IOM3 in 2002.

In 1953 he married Catherine Barbara Newman, and they had a son and a daughter. He lived for a number of years in Stow-on-the-Wold, in Gloucestershire and died peacefully at home on 19 March 2024, aged 97.

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Kovida Mehra