In Memory of Wilf Woodhead

Wilf Woodhead, Lecturer in Zoology in the 1950s - 1970s in the Department of Science at the Oxford College of Technology, later Oxford Polytechnic from 1957. Died July 10th 2018 aged 90.

Alwyn Griffiths (formerly Senior Lecturer and Senior Tutor in the Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences) recalls:

A few pieces of information that I found concerning Wilf in the original submission to the CNAA in June 1972 for the BSc Honours in Science which started in September 1973.

It has Wilf's entry as Senior Lecturer in Zoology. He had a BSc (2.ii) in Zoology in 1952 from Liverpool. He also had a MIBiol, and FRMS. He started working at Oxford Polytechnic in 1957. From 1953-57 he worked at West Ham College of Technology, 1952-53 at Southend College of Technology and from 1946-48 in the Army Education Corps.

I knew Wilf well. Besides lecturing in Genetics etc (as previously mentioned) he was also Course Tutor for many years in the HNC in Medical Laboratory Subjects when I was the Course Tutor for Applied Biology. Wilf started teaching on the new modular course in 1973 when it first started along with myself, David Fell, Chris White and Ken Howells who were all brought in at the same time. ( I think Ken may have been 1 term later).

Wilf was very interested in photography. I remember going to his house in the early 70s and him showing me his loft conversion where he had converted his loft into a big dark room. He had every possible bit of photographic kit you could imagine. One of Wilf's standard exam questions was always something problem associated with the Hardy Weinberg equation and one of his genetics practical classes was to do with eating beetroot ( I believe) and noting the incidence of purple urine excretors in the class.

Jim Smith (former Chief Technician in the then Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences) recalls:

I knew Wilf Woodhead pretty well and he was responsible for persuading me to apply for my job at the College of Technology, designated Oxford Polytechnic and now Oxford Brookes. I’m pretty certain that Wilf gained a degree from Liverpool in Zoology. It was at the outbreak of war when courses were condensed to two years so that graduates (especially medics) could be called up for war service.

When I first met him he was the Senior lecturer in the Biology section. The only degree course running was the London External and Bot, Zoo and chem. was offered. Later geology was offered, under the auspices of Alan Childs. Wilf taught Zoology along with a Mrs Curtis and Enid Ostle. The resident microbiologist was Len Heath who left for Plymouth just as the HNC in Applied Biology came on line. Microbiology was a main subject and Wilf had to set to and teach it – which he did for quite a number of years until other microbiologists were employed. He then turned his attention to genetics.

Professor David Fell recalls:

I believe Wilf was a lecturer before we were designated a Polytechnic. He was one of the members of staff who designed he biology modules for the initial validation of our Modular Course by the CNAA, and taught the first year module Heredity and Variation from the course's inception in 1973. He was an enthusiastic pipe smoker, in the days when it was normal or staff to smoke in their offices, so he certainly contributed to the 'atmosphere' I remember when I joined. His hobby was photography, and he was certainly living in Wheatley in 1973.

Dr David Thurling (formerly Programme Lead, Biology and Environment) recalls:

I overlapped with Wilf for a few years from 1975 and shared an office with him and some others on the Sinclair 4th floor. He must have been one of the first staff to teach on the new Modular Course (later renamed Modular Programme) because it began in our area (Department of Science) in about 1973 and he ran the large first year genetics module(Heredity & Variation), on which I assisted.

In his spare time Wilf did photography, covering his costs by selling photos to magazines. Wilf took early retirement because in those days pensions were worth more than they are now and he was also given enhancement. In those days we went to town a bit more with retirement events and Wilf's was held in a basement (nightclub?) in St Clements.