Isle of Man-based inventor and engineer Dr John C Taylor OBE, whose name may not be familiar to all but whose inventions are used by tens of millions of people across the globe every day, has been recognised by the highly prestigious Durham University for his contributions to science and business.
Early electric kettles would not turn off when the water was boiling, meaning that they needed constant supervision and were in danger of melting and starting fires if they were not properly attended. Dr Taylor created the solution to this problem: a small, bi-metallic thermostat which would break the kettle’s circuit when the water started to boil.
Dr Taylor has today (Thursday January 12) been awarded an honorary doctorate (DSci) by Durham University, at which he has been a Visiting Professor of Physics for a number of years, lecturing on topics such as his famous Corpus Chronophage clock in Cambridge, and telling an inventor, engineer and entrepreneur’s story to the students to enthuse them to also be creative.
On receiving the honorary doctorate, Dr Taylor said, “Being awarded an honorary doctorate in science from such a distinguished university as Durham is a surprise and a source of great pride.
“What makes it particularly special for me is that this is where my son Neil graduated with a First in Engineering in 1991.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to lecture at Durham, in particular offering the sort of practical advice that can help young engineers and inventors to turn a good idea into a viable business.
“The United Kingdom is known around the world for its innovation and I think it’s important to support the innovators of the future, who will help the community by creating jobs, money and opportunities for others.”
Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said, “Durham students benefit from education that is challenging, difficult, enabling, research-led and transformative, delivered in an environment of world-leading and world-changing research, as well as enjoying a wider student experience to rival the best in the world. This helps make our graduates among the most sought after in the world.
“I congratulate all of our graduates and wish them every success as they embark upon a new phase in their lives. Our honorary graduates are great innovators in their field and I am sure our students will draw inspiration from them.”
Dr Taylor now has over 400 patents to his name, and his retirement has not slowed him down. He is one of the UK’s leading experts on early English clocks and his most recent inventions reflect his love of horology. In 2008 the Corpus Chronophage was unveiled in an exterior wall of the Taylor Library at Corpus College, Cambridge.
The Corpus Chronophage is one of the few unique clocks in the world and its patented mechanics work like no clock before it. It has now become the most-visited tourist attraction in Cambridge.
About Dr John C Taylor
Dr John C Taylor OBE was born in Buxton in Derbyshire in 1936. Having spent six years living in Canada during his childhood, he returned home towards the end of the Second World War and attended King William’s College on the Isle of Man before studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University.
After finishing his education he took a job at Otter Controls, founded by his father, and began working in bi-metal. His work with these controls led to Dr Taylor designing the thermostat systems that are used in almost two billion kettles and small household appliances.
Dr Taylor left Otter Controls to build his own company, Strix, which holds four Queen’s Awards. Three are for Export and one is for Innovation, granted for his 360-degree cordless kettle connector, which is used every day by almost every household and workplace in the UK and many throughout the world.
As well as being one of the world’s most prolific inventors, Dr Taylor has also conducted a lot of research into the subject of horology. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer of timekeeping and sea clocks. This led him to design and help build the Corpus Chronophage, a three metre-high clock that is displayed in an exterior wall of the Corpus Christi College building at Cambridge University.
He has lectured alongside American writer Dava Sobel, who wrote the well-known book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time about John Harrison.
Dr Taylor has been the recipient of many honours including, but not limited to, the following:
• Appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 New Year honours list for his services to business and horology
• Appointment as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of British engineering, innovation and commerce
• The Harrison Medal, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers for excellence in horology
• Being conferred an Honorary Doctorate from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)
• Being conferred an Honorary Doctorate from Durham University
In his spare time, Dr Taylor also has a keen interest in aviation, having been a private pilot for over sixty years. Taught by his father as a child, he has so far amassed over 5,000 hours of flying time.
Dr John C Taylor is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DrJCTOBE.
1936 Born in Buxton, Derbyshire
1939 Moves to Canada with family
1945 Family returns to Derbyshire
1950 Attends King William’s College
1953 First solo flight
1956 Begins study at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
1958 Is a member of the Cambridge Spitsbergen Expedition, Svalbard
1959 Graduates from Cambridge, having studied Natural Sciences
1959 Joins his father’s company, Otter Controls
1981 Leaves Otter Controls to set up his own company, Strix
1995 Strix receives first of four Queen’s Awards
1999 Retires and leaves Strix
2001 Receives Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from UMIST
2003 Begins work on the Corpus Chronophage
2008 Taylor library opened at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
2008 Corpus Chronophage unveiled at Taylor library
2010 Midsummer Chronophage first exhibited
2011 Awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in New Year honours list for services to business and horology
2012 Awarded Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering
2013 Completes the Dragon Chronophage
2014 Prototype of the solar cooker produced
2015 Exhibits the Dragon Chronophage at Design Shanghai
2015 First US commission Chronophage clock presented to collector
2016 Donates £2.5M for Chair of Innovation at Department of Engineering at Cambridge University
2017 Receives Honorary Doctorate from Durham University