Stanton, Thomas Ernest

views updated


(b. Atherstone, Warwickshire, England, 12 December 1865; d Pevensey Bay. Sussex. England. 30 August 1931)


Stanton was educated at Atherstone Grammer School, Owens College. Manchester (1884–1891), and University College, Liverpool (D.Sc. 1898). While a student at Owens, he was as an article pupil at Gimson g Co. Engineers, Leicester (1884–1887). He began his academic career as demonstrator in the Whiteworth Engineering Laboratory at Owens College (1891–1896), then advanced steadily; senior lecturer in engineering at University College, Liverpool (1896–1899); professor of civil and mechanical engineering, University College, Bristol (1899–1901); and superintendent of the engineering department at the National Physical Laboratory. Teddington (1901–1930). At Owens College, Stanton was assistant to Osborne Reynolds and later experimentally establish the latter’s theoretical laws of fluid flow in pipes. He was associated with the National Physical Laboratory from its inception in 1901. Now admininstered by the Department of Trade and Industry it was originally established under the overall control of the Royal Society, to pursue scientific research, particularly for application in industry.

Throughout his career Stanton was occupied with hydrodynamics, strength of materials, heat transmission, and lubrication. His papers on the flow of water in channels of varying cross section (1902), the resistance of thin plates and models in a current of water (1909), the mechanical viscosity of fluids (1911), and comparisons of surface friction and eddy-making resistance in fluids (1912) led to his definitive text Friction (1923), in which he postulated the boundary theory. Experiments in alternating stress and impact testing machines (1905–1906) and on hardness testing (1916–1917) resulted in awards by the Institution of Civil Engineers (1899, 1906, 1921) culminating in the Howard Quinquennial Prize for his research and writing on the properties of iron and steel.

Stanton was involved with aerodynamics from the early years of airplane development, the engineering department of the National Physical Laboratory having charge of this work until it was asigned to a separate department. He built a vertical wind tunnel and other equipment for wind velocity investigations; and as late as 1928, although no longer engaged in administration, Stanton made tests for the British Airscrew Panel on airfoils at speeds near the velocity of sound in air. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1914 and also served on its Council in 1927–1929. He was member of the committee for the restoration of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in the early 1930’s. Stanton was awarded the C. B. E. for his service in World War I and knighted in 1928.


I. Original Works Staton’s writings include “Flow of Water in Channels of Varying Cross Section” in Engineering,74 (1902), 664; “Resistance of Thin plates and Models in a Current of Water,” in Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects ( 1909), 164—169; “Mechanical Viscosity of Fluids as Affected by the Speed and by the Dimensions of the Channel... ,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, A85 (1910), 366–376; “Similarity of Motion in Relation to the Surface Friction of Fluids.” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, A214 (1914), 199–224, written with J. R. Pannell; Friction (London, 1923): “Tests Under Conditions of Infinite Aspect Ratio of Four Airfoils in High-Speed Wind Channel” and “Distribution of Pressure Over Symmetrical Joukowski Section at High Speeds,” both in Technical Report of Aeronautical Research Committee of National Physical Laboratory, 1929–1930, I, Aerodynamics (London, 1931), 290–296: and “Engineering Research,” in Engineer, 151 (1931), 506; and Nature,127 (1931 ), 748–749.

II. Secondary Literature. See S. H. Hooker, “Compressibility Effects in High Speed Air Flow,” in Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, 35 (1931), 665–674, with illustration of high-speed wind tunnel at 669; and the unsigned “The Late Sir Thomas Stanton,” in Engineering,132 (4 Sept. 1931), 280.

P. W. Bishop

About this article

Stanton, Thomas Ernest

Updated About content Print Article