The Obituary of William Desmond (Bill) Holden

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(August 1922-November 2017)

Bill was born on 1st August 1922, to Walter and Georgina Holden.  He was an only child.  He lived initially on Wigan Road in Westhoughton, then on Manchester Road, before the family moved to St John’s Road in Chew Moor in 1929.  Bill went to St Thomas’ School in Lostock, until he took the entrance exams for Bolton School in 1932.  He started there in September 1933, aged 11.  He left Bolton School in 1940, when he was 18, and went to work at the Chemical Defence Research Establishment in St Helens, synthesising mustard gas and other poisonous gases.

He worked there until 1941, when he decided to volunteer to join the RAF.  He was accepted, having astonished the RAF assessor by returning perfect 100% marks in all the entrance exams (The first time that this had ever been achieved), with the remark along the lines of…“Tha’s made of some pretty good stuff, lad !”

Bill went off to train, firstly in London, then Babbacombe, Devon, and then off to Canada and America. He got his ‘wings’ on 16th May 1942.  Bill spent most of his time in the RAF in, and around Africa, including Sierra Leone, Cairo and Aden, and then in the Middle East.  Later on, Bill was also stationed in Normandy, Ghent in Belgium, and Hamburg.

Bill married Annie on 12th May, 1945.  He was demobbed in June 1946, and started as a student at Manchester University in 1946.  He studied there until 1949, when he graduated and began his career at W & J Leigh & Co, rising to the position of Chief Chemist – a position that he held with distinction until he took early retirement in 1984 to look after Annie, who was not in the best of health at the time.  As with everything, he did a good job – they were married for 67 years by the time she passed in July 2012.

Bill (Often affectionately referred to as ‘BDH’ in general conversation amongst Leigh’s staff, but always a respectful ‘Mr Holden’ in his presence) was renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge of anything connected with paint technology, and his approachability and willingness to share this knowledge with any of his staff, from laboratory managers right down to the most junior technician.

Bill was an avid reader of all the technical journals and had an incredible photographic retention of the information, right down to the date and issue number of any given paper…  Forget Google – Mr Holden was way ahead of the game in terms of a reference source for any information that you needed!  He was an active supporter of the Institute of Corrosion and for two years was Chairman of the North-West Branch. In addition, he was a 50-year life-member of the Oil & Colour Chemists Association.

Bill also read and absorbed every single report produced by his R&D team, and would frequently summon a nervous young lab technician into his office to discuss a project, which usually concluded with the dreaded question…”So what do you think we should do next ?”… After listening intently to the junior’s fumbling attempt at an answer for Plan ‘B’, he would typically reply…”Yes, very good, try that; and while you’re at it you might also want to try… “ (Plans ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’). Of course, Bill’s ideas were always the ones which worked best, but he would never discourage his staff from trying anything (within reason!) and to learn from their experimental failures as well as successes.

Outside of work Bill enjoyed many things including gardening, tennis, badminton, painting, photography, yoga, family history, music, dancing, walking and travel.  He enjoyed doing many of those things with his family, including his two daughters, son-in-law, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Even in retirement, right up until the last few years – having suffered a stroke in 2013 – Bill would visit the laboratory for a guided tour prior to the annual Christmas party held for retired Leigh’s staff – Joe Nugent, Harold Twyford and Roy Lindley amongst them, who also were staunch ICorr supporters; and he always showed a keen interest and understanding of whatever he was shown, although the news that the lab samples were no longer made by ball mill did not go down at all well.

With typical Bill Holden thoughtfulness and thoroughness, he’d left a recorded message that was played at his funeral, and very typically it was supportive of everyone else rather than concern for his own situation.

Bill Holden will be fondly remembered as a great leader, mentor and most importantly an absolute gentleman.


Compiled by Malcolm Morris and Bill Cox

The 29th Institute of Corrosion Lunch at The Royal Overseas League

The 29th Institute of Corrosion Lunch at The Royal Overseas League, was another huge success with 177 people attending the event in Mayfair London.

 Guests started to arrive at 11.30 for a pre-dinner drink and were seated by 12.30 for the first of two acts by The Sirens a singing quartet. It was really well received and set the scene for the afternoon. The meal was excellent and congratulations to the ROSL who never disappoint. After lunch the Chair of London Branch thanked everyone for their continued support of The Institute and in particular London Branch, the organising committee and the Branch Committee who continue to drive the Institute in London forward.

The 2 new initiatives were mentioned; Young Engineer Training Program and Route to Chartered Status which start in January 2018, along with the two new training programs; Fundamentals of Corrosion and the CP Training Program.

The President addressed the guests to a rapturous applause once again thanking everyone for their support and explaining the Institute has exciting plans that will start in Q1 2018.

After the raffle two guests were honoured with a small gift following their highly acclaimed Tallow Chandler award for their work in Materials and Corrosion, a tremendous achievement by Charlotte Vie in 2016 and Simon Bowcock in 2017.

The timing for the event this year was slightly different allowing guests to socialise and network at the ROSL until 7.00pm which appeared to be extremely popular; lots of notes being taken and exchanging of business cards.

Thanks again to all those that assisted in the organisation of the event and we look forward to another exciting event in December 2018

To see the complete newsletter please click link below;

ICorr – London Branch Annual Christmas Lunch 2017

Influence of H2S on the Pit to Crack Transition in Sour Testing of Corrosion Resistant Alloys

James Hesketh – National Physical Laboratory

Stable pitting is a precursor to sulphide stress corrosion cracking (SSCC), which is one of the main causes of failure of stainless steel pipelines used in sour Oil and Gas production. Despite this, the underlying mechanism governing the growth of such pits is poorly understood, and hence materials selection for sour service is dependent upon costly and time consuming environmental exposure and SSCC test programmes.

In this study we investigate the role of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in pit propagation as a first step towards the development of accelerated test methods for SSCC resistance. Novel electrochemical techniques are employed to determine the relationship between bulk solution chemistry and the critical pit chemistry required to induce stable pitting in sour environments.

Electrochemical measurements are correlated with results obtained from standard SSCC tests and are rationalised in terms of the balance between H2S diffusion through the pit mouth, H2S consumption within the pit and the role of the external cathode.

The implications for more informed and cost-effective materials selection are discussed.

For copy of the newsletter please click the link

London Branch News – NOV17 – James Hesketh[5479]








EUROCORR 2017:  Corrosion Control for Safer Living  (Reported by Douglas Mills)

EUROCORR 2017: Corrosion Control for Safer Living (Reported by Douglas Mills)

This major conference, which this year was combined with the 20th International Corrosion Congress and the Process Safety Congress,  was held from 3rd  – 7th September 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic. It attracted 1200 participants from 62 countries, with the largest number coming from France, second was China, third was Germany, fourth United Kingdom and fifth the Czech Republic. There was a large exhibition, featuring a total of 49 exhibitors and this was opened on the Monday evening with a reception.  In accordance with the traditional format, the conference was divided into parallel sessions, 43 in total, running concurrently. These included sessions organised by the various EFC working parties (details of these are available at, various Joint Sessions, Technical Forums and Workshops, and six Process Safety sessions. The conference was opened by Tomáš Prošek (Czech Association of Corrosion Engineers and chief organiser) and Damien Féron (President of the European Federation of Corrosion). The European Corrosion Medal was then awarded to Mário G. S. Ferreira (University of Aveiro, Portugal) who gave  a talk on ‘Immobilisation of active molecules in nano-structured materials for multifunctional coatings’ in which he argued that although additives can confer important functionalities (corrosion inhibition, anti-fouling, sensing, adhesion), the direct mixing of additives into coating formulations can have serious drawbacks.

The Marcel Pourbaix Award was presented to Christofer Leygraf (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden), who delivered a plenary talk on ‘Atmospheric corrosion: current challenges in an evolving research field’. The development of simplified but practically relevant model systems, along with international exposure tests and laboratory experiments aided by analytical and technical advancements has greatly increased our understanding of atmospheric corrosion. The speaker sought to highlight present and future challenges.

On the Wednesday morning the EUROCORR Young Scientist Grant award, which provides financial support to young corrosion practitioners to visit and interact with groups working in other countries, was presented to Hongchang Qian, who will work with Dr Yaiza Gonzalez-Garcia (Delft University of Technology, Netherlands); Anissa Célina Bouali, who will work with Dr Alexander Lutz (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium); and Berk Ozdirik, who will work with Dr Patrik Schmutz (EMPA, Swizerland). Details of this award can be found at

Prizes for the best posters were also presented, with first prize going to Alexander Lutz (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) for ‘Local electrochemical study of ternary Zn–Fe–Mo alloy coatings on carbon steel’. The second prize going to Beatriz Mingo (The University of Manchester, U.K.) for ‘Active Functionalisation of ceramic coatings: incorporation of loaded nanotubes’, The  plenary lecture on the Wednesday  was ‘Continuum and atomic scale simulation of stress corrosion cracking and causality’ by Tetsuo Shoji (Tohoku University, Japan). The speaker described the application of stress and strain analysis by theoretical elastic-plastic stress field analysis and FEM, quasi-continuum (FEM and molecular dynamics) and Quantum Chemical Molecular Dynamics to examine the role of stress and strain in SCC in relation to the chemical and physical properties of materials.

The conference Gala Dinner took place on the Wednesday evening at the riverside Zofin Palace, with an extensive buffet of Czech specialities and drinks, presented in the numerous rooms of this impressive building including an upstairs and gallery. The multiple levels made it possible for a choice of two parallel entertainments, the spacious upstairs ballroom being entertained by the Havelka Sisters and their Orchestra with traditional light jazz and swing music, while the downstairs dance room was rocked by the Beatles Revival (Brouci Band) with their repertoire of Beatles hits.

On Thursday, the plenary lecture was given by John R. Scully (University of Virginia, USA) on ‘Needs, gaps and opportunities for better design of corrosion resistant materials’.  The speaker cited a recent National Academy study suggesting that an ideal corrosion-resistant alloy might well be formulated in the future using integrated computational materials design. This presents the challenge of connecting the attribute-defined features of an alloy, with the subsequent properties, by applying relevant scientific principles.  Significant scientific needs, gaps and opportunities must be met in order to improve this theory-based design approach

Next year the EUROCORR congress will be held from 9th to 13th September at the ICE Kraków congress centre, Poland.

The above is an edited version of a longer report that will appear in the first issue of 2018 of the journal Corrosion Engineering Science and Technology. Thanks are due to Ruth Bingham for supplying the two photographs.

Tetsuo Shoji (Tohoku University, Japan).

Beatriz Mingo
(The University of  Manchester).

One-day Workshop on Surface Analysis and Depth Profiling Techniques

The Branch in association with Loughborough Surface Analysis Ltd (LSA) and Midlands Surface Analysis Ltd (MSA), is holding a one-day workshop on surface analysis and depth profiling techniques, and how they can be used to help with a variety of challenges relating to corrosion.  The workshop will draw upon a wealth of real-world experience in using these techniques, and will be held on 24 January 2018, at Aston University, Birmingham.  It will consist of a series of seminars given by experts in the field on the individual techniques (including case studies), together with an optional practical demonstrations on some of the techniques in the laboratories of MSA Ltd.  Opportunities will also be provided to discuss participants’ specific cases either in an open forum or in private with the analysts present.

The agenda for the day and further details can be found on the Institute website.