Pioneers of the British Geological Survey



The British Geological Survey has existed since 1835, under a succession of names:

  • 1835–1845: Ordnance Geological Survey
  • 1845–1905: Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland
  • 1905–1965: Geological Survey of Great Britain
  • 1965–1984: Institute of Geological Sciences
  • 1984 to date: British Geological Survey

This resource provides brief biographical information for the members of staff who served in the organisation during the first hundred years of its existence.

To mark the centenary of the formation of the Geological Survey, Sir John Flett, Director of the Survey in 1935, wrote 'The First Hundred years of the Geological Survey of Great Britain'.

Published by HMSO in 1937, this work became one of the key texts for anyone carrying out research into the development of the Survey.

One section, Appendix 2, provides an invaluable reference list of those who served on the staff of the Survey between 1835 and 1935. The Prefatory Note in Flett's work acknowledges the contribution of Miss E M Guppy in the compilation of the staff list.

Library notes provide greater detail

While the list as it appears in the published work provides only brief biographical details for each individual member of staff, the BGS Library Archives include the full MSS notes (GSM1/718) made by Miss Guppy.

These notes contain a much fuller entry for each person and give a fascinating insight into the careers of many of the geologists involved, forming the core of this resource.

What's in the Pioneers section?

The Pioneers of the British Geological Survey resource includes:

  • All names listed in Appendix II of Sir John Flett's history. This includes all staff who were in the Survey before 1900. After 1900 it includes only the scientific staff and not the technical assistants, general assistants, draughtsmen, warders, cleaners, messengers etc.
  • Information for each member of staff, derived from the extended notes compiled by Miss Guppy with additional amendments and updated information, e.g. obituaries, biographies, photographs and sample signatures. This updating will continue.
  • In future, it is hoped to extend this resource to include Survey staff up to 1965 when the Survey became the Institute of Geological Sciences, an organisation with a much wider remit than the former Geological Survey.


Flett, J S.  1937.  The First Hundred Years of the Geological Survey.  (London: HMSO.)

Guppy, E M.  1935.  Geological Survey Staff.  [Unpublished manuscript.]

Guppy, E M.  2000.  BGS Archives GSM1/718, Biographical notes on Geological Survey staff: A transcription of the original archive notes. Selected Documents from the BGS Archives No. 2.  British Geological Survey Technical Report WO/00/04.