History of Marine Science SIG

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants *”.

SIG CompositeOur remarkable present-day capabilities in marine science are built on past scientific discoveries. 

In 2016 the History of Marine Science SIG was re-established and aims to highlight, explore and preserve the UK’s long and illustrious marine science history. Through this activity we will be able to present-day marine science in context. 

The Group will work by electronic-correspondence and by holding meetings (perhaps including webinars).

Foci for its activities will include:-

  • Collecting and publicizing biographies of UK Marine scientists. (including oral histories)
  • Researching the origins of present-day scientific understanding.
  • The rescue, documentation and exploitation of historical data that is of value to present day research.
  • Documenting the histories of major scientific expeditions, projects and experiments.
  • Documenting the histories of UK research vessels.
  • Documenting the histories and achievements of laboratories and university departments involved in marine science.
  • The preservation of important documents, photographs and equipment.

We invite you to register your interest.

Please e-mail John Gould if you would like to join this Group. 
It would be useful to know:

  • Your areas of interest/expertise on history topics
  • Your affiliation (past and or present) with approximate dates

Membership is not restricted the members of the Challenger Society.   However if you think the group's goals are important then we encourage you to consider joining the Society.  

*  This quote is widely attributed to Sir Isaac Newton in 1676 but its roots go back to the 12th century.  The words are on the circumference of the £2 coin.

News timeline and upcoming history-related events


February 22nd 2017 - Atmospheric Art and the Volcanic Skies of Constable and Turner. 
R.Met Soc ., Bath.  https://www.rmets.org/events/forthcoming-meetings


•  December 8th  - New Winton gallery at Science Museum opens and includes Kelvin’s first (1871) tide prediction machine and NIO scientist Shikuo Ishiguro’s  (1950s/60s) analogue electronic model of storm surges. https://beta.sciencemuseum.org.uk/mathematics/ 

•  November    - CSMS Council agrees to re-establish History of Marine Science SIG.

A selection of resources related to marine science history


History of the NIO NIO/IOS laboratory at Wormley in Surrey 1953-1994

International Congress on the History of Oceanography (ICHO)

Oral Histories and Biographies

The British Library

The Royal Society

The Royal Meteorological  Society


Madingley Rise and Early Geophysics at Cambridge
(Third Millennium 2009)       Carol Williams

Of Seas and Ships and Scientists
(Lutterworth Press 2010)  Eds. Tony Laughton, John Gould , Tom Tucker, Howard Roe


National Oceanographic Library Digital archive


Latest News

Early online Ocean Challenge articles

Three articles from the first 2017 volume of Ocean Challenge have been published early online.

Read More

Challenger President Marches for Science

On International Earth Day (22nd April) our President Prof. Rachel Mills joined 100s of 1000's of people around the globe to March for Science.

Rachel Mills marching

Read More

Registration open for Ocean Modelling SIG September 2017

We are pleased to announce that registration for the 2017 Challenger Society Ocean Modelling meeting is now open.The meeting will be held 11-12th September 2017 at the Met Office, Exeter.

Read More