Stanley Graham Brade-Birks (1887 - 1982)

Dr Brade-Birks died at a nursing home at Hindhead, Surrey, on 28th January 1982 in his 95th year, just ten years after presiding over the Second International Congress of Myriapodology in Manchester with such panache at the grand old age of 84.

Stanley Graham Birks graduated in Geology at Manchester in 1911 and went on to take an M. Sc. in 1914 by research on fossil fish. Along with his scientific studies he had been reading theology and was ordained in the same year as his Master's degree. His fiancée Hilda K. Brade was a fellow graduate in Botany; she too proceeded to M. Sc. and then went on to take degrees in Medicine. As intergraduates they had both taken subsidiary Zoology. The Rev. Graham Birks' first appointment was a Curate at Darwen in Lancashire; it was here that he and Dr Hilda first took-up the study of Myriapods, helped and encouraged, as they gratefully acknowledge, by Dr A. Randell Jackson of Chester. So began a long and fruitful academic collaboration; the first four of their now famous Notes on Myriapoda appeared in 1916. The partnership was more than academic; they were married in 1917, the Rev. Graham added Dr Hilda's surname to his own. Notes VII et seq were published under the joint authorship of the Rev. S.G. and Dr H.K. Brade-Birks until the twenties when pressure od medical work caused Dr Hilka to retire from the credits. Altogether 23 papers were published under their joint authorship and a firther 12 were written by the Rev. Graham alone. The last of the notes appeared in 1939; it was a bibliographical checklist of the entire British fauna including over a hundred species, twice the number they inherited in 1916. They themselves had added eight species new to Britain, three of them, Brachychaeteuma bradae (Brölemann and Brade-Birks), B. melanops Brade-Birks, and Archiboreoiulus pallidus (Brade-Birks), were new to science ; the first necessitated a revision of Verhoeff's genus and the third occasioned the creation of a new genus by Brölemann. The Notes included classical studies of luminescence in geophilomorphs and of paleozoic myriapods.

Dr Brade-Birks took-up a lectureship at the South Eastern Agricultural College, Wye, Kent, in 1919. In 1930, he was installed as Vicar of the lovely parish of Godmersham near Wye, and later as Rector of the neighbouring parish of Crundale. In 1924 he was awarded as D. Sc. of the University of London for his work on the economic status of Myriapoda (Notes n°33, 1929-30). Whilst at Wye his wide interests in agricultural science and his teaching and examining commitments led to his appointment as General Editor of the English Universities Press "Teach yourself farming" series ; he contributed one of the best selling Teach Yourself titles : Good Soil (1944). On retiring from his lectureship in 1948 he was able to widen his interests beyond the constrainsts of his professional appointment and began to compile the Encyclopaedia of General Knowledge which was eventually published by the EUP. I visited him in 1954; he had the components on index cards wich covered every available surface of the study at Godmersham Vicarage.

Many will remember Dr Brade-Birks' effective presidency of the Second Congress in Manchester in 1972. He welcomed members heartily in three languages and contributed to every part of the academic and social success of the meeting before, during and after the Congress. Later in 1972 I was entertained by Dr Hilda and her husband in Canterbury. Dr Graham walked me off my feet round the cathedral and other historic parts of the city. He confessed to begin a little tired after the Jane Austen bicentenary celebrations (Jane Austen's brother was squire of Godersham), having prepared and delivered several lectures on the famous novelist. In 19785 Dr Graham was preaching at the Anniversary services at his old church at Burnage in Manchester and visited us at our home at Prestbury in Cheshire. Again he taxed the stamina of my wife and I, enthusiastically walking us round our church and village explaining features of architectural and historical significance. In 1976 the Brade-Birks visited Greece. Finally, in March 1977 Dr Graham retired from Godmersham after 47 years in the parish; he and Dr Hilda moved to the quiet College of St. Mark in the village of Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex. Dr Graham was still busy with his genaeological research and answering his many correspondents in a firm clear hand.

In January 1980 the Brade-Birks moved to a nursing home at Hindhead in Surrey. They both remained cheerful and mentally very alert despite growing physical infirmities. Now, at the end of a good life we extend to Dr Hilda, her two daugthers, two grandsons and two grand-daugthers, our best wishes and sympathy and join them in giving thanks for BB's long, varied and fruitful life of service.

J. Gordon Blower, March 1982
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