Paul Merchant, interviewer for A Changing Planet, writes:
We read in newspapers that the British Antarctic Survey [BAS], based in Cambridge, may merge with the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton [NOCS]. Unsettling and, many argue, damaging for science. But not historically unusual. Oceanographers and Antarctic scientists interviewed for An Oral History of British Science tell stories of previous moves, changes and mergers.
Until 1962 BAS was called the Falklands Islands Dependency Survey [FIDS] and until the mid 1970s it wasn’t based in Cambridge; it had a headquarters in London and worked out of university departments. Interviewee Janet Thomson began her career as BAS geologist in the Department of Geology, University of Birmingham. From 1957, interviewee Joseph Farman oversaw the long-term measurement of ozone over Antarctica from an office in the University of Edinburgh.
The NOCS has an extraordinarily complicated genealogy. Group W of the Admiralty Research Laboratories (recalled by interviewee Norman Smith) was formed in 1944. In 1951, Group W joined with marine biologists to form the National Institute of Oceanography [NIO], which moved to Wormley in Surrey in 1953 (on life and work in the NIO, see interviews with Sir Anthony Laughton and David Cartwright). In 1965, the Natural Environment Research Council [NERC] took control of NIO and, in 1973, merged NIO with the Institute of Coastal Oceanography and Tides [ICOT], Bidston, near Liverpool and the Unit of Coastal Sedimentation [ICS], Taunton, to form NERC’s Institute of Oceanographic Sciences [IOS]. In 1987 the Liverpool and Wormley parts of the IOS were un-merged, to form the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Bidston and the IOS Deacon Laboratory [IOSDL], Wormley. As NERC’s Director of Marine and Atmospheric Science (1986-94), interviewee John Woods campaigned successfully for a new purpose-built centre for British oceanography: the Southampton Oceanography Centre [SOC], opened in 1996. IOSDL moved from Wormley to the SOC, merging with departments of the University of Southampton. In 2005, SOC was reorganised and renamed the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton [NOCS].
We wait to see what will happen next.