Professor Wyndham John Albery

Former Master of Univ

The College announces with deep regret the death of Professor Wyndham John Albery, who died yesterday evening at the age of 77. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.


John was educated at Winchester and Balliol, and first came to Univ in 1962 as a Weir Junior Research Fellow in Chemistry. Only a year later, he was elected to a Chemistry Fellowship, to join Edmund “Ted” Bowen as our second Chemist on the Governing Body.


John threw himself into Univ life: he served variously as Junior Dean and Dean, but above all he was Tutor for Admissions from 1968–75. During this period he oversaw a great change in the academic standing of the College, helping to nurture a more academic atmosphere in the College.


This culminated in the College coming top of the Norrington Table in 1975.


There was, however, another side to John. Coming from a family with a distinguished theatrical tradition, John himself took a lifelong interest in the theatre, writing sketches for the television series “That Was The Week That Was”, and co-authoring two musicals. It was not surprising that John should bring some of this flair to Univ: in 1972 he and Leslie Mitchell put on Univ’s first College Revue, and created a well-loved College tradition. All this activity made John a well known figure in Univ among chemists and non-chemists alike.


In 1978, John moved to Imperial College London to become a Professor in Physical Chemistry there. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985.


In 1989 John returned to Univ as our Master, and remained in post until 1997. As the Record said on his retirement, he served us “with energy, enthusiasm, and elan.” Among the major events of his Mastership were the visit of President Bill Clinton (1968) in 1994. He also took great pleasure in seeing our First Eight go Head of the River in 1990 – the first time since 1914 – and retain it in the following year. He was elected an Honorary Fellow on his retirement, and he took up a Senior Research Fellowship back at Imperial.


John retained a deep and lifelong love of the College, and will be missed by pupils and colleagues alike.