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The Papers of Professor Harold Barlow

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BRLW

Scope and Contents

The collection held at Churchill Archives Centre comprises the academic, personal and scientific working papers (including patent applications and publications) of Professor Barlow. There are also some papers of Prof. Alex Cullen. The latter date from 1860 (a family photograph) to 1991 (a memorial lecture).


  • Creation: 1860 - 1991

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Individual closures are marked in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Professor Harold Monteagle Barlow, (he did not personally use the Everard), was born in Highbury, 15 November 1899, the second son of Leonard Barlow, MIEE, and Katharine Monteagle. He was educated at Wallington Grammar School proceeding to The City & Guilds Engineering College in 1915 (a year younger than most students) on a Mitchell Scholarship, graduating in 1917. He went to University College, London to read Engineering in February 1919 under special arrangements available to ex-servicemen, and graduated two years later in 1920. As a higher degree student he worked as research assistant to Professor Sir Ambrose Fleming gaining a PhD in Science in 1923, there being no such Engineering degree at that time.

In 1931 he married Janet Hastings, daughter of Rev. J. Hastings Eastwood BA, with whom he had three sons and one daughter.

Barlow served in both wars. As a Sub-Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve from 1917-19 he worked particularly on the development of submarine radio communication. Barlow was recruited by Sir John Cockcroft who was actively seeking out promising young researchers as preparation in the event of war. Taking War Service leave from University College 1939-45 Barlow joined the Telecommunications Research Establishment, Air Ministry, to deal with Radar development, becoming in 1943 Superintendent of the Radio Department of RAE supervising a staff of some 800 scientists and engineers.

The death of his elder brother Leonard in 1919 led to Harold joining the family firm on the completion of his formal education, working first for one of the firm’s clients, East Surrey Ironworks, where he gained much practical engineering experience. He later joined Barlow & Young Ltd but felt himself to be unsuited to business. The willingness of a younger brother, Stuart, to take his place, made it possible for him to accept an offer in 1924 of a lectureship from University College London in the Faculty of Engineering where he remained until retirement in 1967. Following his war service he returned to UCL as Professor of Electrical Engineering and in 1950 became Pender Professor and Head of Department. On retirement, he became an Honorary Research Associate remaining with the Department of Electrical Engineering for a further 20 years of research much of it pioneering work in fibre optics.

In the years following the war Barlow served the Ministry of Supply first on the Radar and Signals Advisory Board, 1947 and the Scientific Advisory Council, 1949. He was also a member of the BBC Scientific Advisory Committee, 1953-76. Apart from service to his own College as Fellow, Dean of Faculty and Member of Council he served on the London Regional Advisory Council and the Academic Board for Higher Technological Education, 1952-67; the Academic Council, University of London, 1953-55 and as Governor, Woolwich Polytechnic, 1948. He also made several lecture tours and engaged in Postgraduate teaching both in the USA (Berkeley) and at Imperial College (London).

Barlow became a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1961 receiving the Society’s Royal Medal in 1989 in consideration of the calibre of the research carried out under his aegis. In 1976 he became a Founder Fellow of the Fellowship of Engineering. He was the recipient of many other national and international honours including membership of the US National Academy of Engineering. Professor Barlow died in 1989.

Publications: Books: "Micro-waves and Wave-guides", 1947; "Micro-Wave Measurements" (with A. L. Cullen), 1950; "Radio Surface Waves" (with J. Brown), 1962; 136 scientific papers: 1923-1987 (as listed or present in the papers). General Editor of Series: "Telecommunications" vol.1, J. Brown & E.V.D. Glazier, 1964.


19 archive box(es) : paper

Language of Materials



Prof. Cullen used the papers for the Royal Society

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and a hard copy of the catalogue is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives in London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre in 1992 by Professor Alex Cullen.


This collection (fonds) level description and catalogue was compiled by Averil Condren for Churchill Archives Centre in 2002. Biographical information was obtained from Professor Barlow’s entry in Who's Who (A& C Black) and from the Biographical Memoir (Fellows of the Royal Society) prepared by Professor Alex L. Cullen FRS and from the papers themselves.


Barlow, Harold Everard Monteagle, 1899-1989, physicist and electrical engineer

2002-12-10 11:00:41+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087