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The Papers of Geoffrey Pyke

Reference Code: GBR/0014/PYKE

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to key moments in Pyke's career, including 'Project Habakkuk'.


  • Creation: 1890-08 - 1950-08

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is closed until catalogued.

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

Geoffrey Pyke was born on 10 December 1893, the eldest son of Lionel Edward Pyke QC and Mary Rachel Pyke (née Lucas). He attended Wellington College for two years, from 1907-1909, he was then privately tutored until he attended Pembroke College, Cambridge to study Law. He never completed his degree due to the outbreak of the First World War. In 1918 Pyke married Margaret Amy Chubb with whom he had one son.

During the First World War Pyke worked as war correspondent undercover in Berlin for the 'Daily Chronicle'. He was captured and detained at an internment camp in Ruhleben on the outskirts of Berlin from which he escaped in June 1915. Following this Pyke wrote for 'Cambridge Magazine' before working in the city as an investor, in particular trading metals.

In 1924 he established his own school 'The Maltings', in Cambridge, which was set up based on the theories of the American philosopher and educationist John Dewey. The school was forced to close in 1927 due to lack of funds. In 1936 he set up Voluntary Industrial Aid for Spain.

Throughout the Second World War Pyke worked as an inventor. In 1942 he was appointed as a scientific adviser by Louis Mountbatten. He is best known for his innovative proposals for weapons, including the development of the ice-ship ('Project Habakkuk') and the development of the material pykrete.

In 1946 Pyke worked as a researcher for a working party preparing a report for the NHS on nursing recruitment.

He died in London on 21 February 1948.


c. 150 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Copies of this finding aid are available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and on the Janus website

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited at the Churchill Archives Centre in May & October 2017.


This collection level description was prepared by Natasha Swainston. Biographical information was obtained from Wikipedia and ODNB.

Date information

DateText: Undated.


Pyke, Geoffrey Nathaniel Joseph Pyke, 1893-1948, Educationist and inventor

2017-11-13 14:51:34.760000+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