Elected F.R.S. 1982
Derek Birchall died as result of a collision with a London taxi on 7 December 1995. He had been a most prolific inventor and had recently entered academic life. He was one of the very few Fellows elected to the Royal Society this century who did not possess a university degree. Like Alfred Nobel before him, he had received little formal education, and he was fascinated by the phenomena of fire (rather than by explosion). His wife of many years, Pauline, had died in 1990, and at his death he was betrothed to Audrey Greaves
By far the greatest part of his scientific career was spent working for I.C.I., and many of his inventions were commercialized by that company.