Laurence Shepheard Harley (1901-1983) Electrical Engineer, Antiquary and President of EFC
Laurence Shepheard Harley was born in Hornsey, Middlesex on 10th October 1901 and died in Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk following a long illness on 5th November 1983, aged 82.
He was the only child of Charles Harley (1869-24th October 1930) who was baptised in Alrewas, Staffordshire on 17th October 1869, a railway clearing house clerk and Ethel Maria Shepheard (26th June 1870- 30th September 1953) who married on 6th June 1898 at St. John the Evangelist, Hornsey. Laurence attended Dame Alice Owen’s school and graduated B.Sc. (Eng.) from Imperial College, University of London in 1921. He joined Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd. but was later recruited by the Air Ministry in 1938 and employed with the team at Bawdsey Manor working on Radar. Laurence married Shela Gwendoline Tinson (29th May 1900-4th March 1996) at Edmonton in 1928. They were married for 55 years.
Laurence was as an electrical engineer. He patented a type of valve filament and produced a book on thermionic valves in 1932 and travelled to Nova Scotia in 1940 and New York in 1941.
He wrote about graffiti in Essex in 1950 and published a book about on Polstead church and parish in 1955. Further editions followed. He wrote an account of round towers in 1964 and in 1966 he commented on Roman pottery from Matching. His typology of brick: with numerical coding of brick characteristics was published by the British Archaeological Association in 1974. Laurence was founder and president of the British Brick Society, who published a glowing tribute to him in 1984 mentioning his warmth and generosity of spirit.
The Essex Field Club printed his special memoir The clay tobacco-pipe in Britain with special reference to Essex and East Anglia which reached a second edition in 1976. Laurence’s work on the internal diameters of clay-pipe stems earned him fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1979 he wrote about Normans and Roman tiles while in 1983 he considered gun flint making, based on a visit to Brandon in 1961.
He joined the Essex Field Club with his future wife in 1924 and was Secretary for the Jubilee Organisation in 1930 compiling an account of our first hundred years in 1980. He was field meetings secretary, with Percy Thompson, from 1931-1934; treasurer from 1934-1949 and president 1949-1953. His wife, Gwendoline, was field meeting secretary from 1955-1958.
He died on 5th October 1983 at Stoke-by-Nayland, following a long illness, and requested no funeral and bequeathed his body to medical science, although a cremation took place in Cambridgeshire in 1983.
British Brick Society