S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Stanley, Professor George Hardy (metallurgy, geology)

Born: 5 May 1877, London, England.
Died: 16 July 1964, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Professor George Hardy Stanley

George H. Stanley, metallurgist, was the eldest son of George Stanley of Birmingham. He studied at the Royal School of Mines, London, where he was awarded the Bessemer Medal in 1897. During the next eight years he worked as assistant to a metallurgist in Birmingham; as assistant manager of the Pyle and Blaina Iron Works at Monmouth, in south Wales; and as demonstrator of metallurgy and surveying under Henry Louis*, professor of mining at the Durham College of Science, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was an associate of the Royal School of Mines, a member of the Institute of Mining Engineers, a member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, and a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry. In 1902 he married Constance M. Lawledge, who died in 1914 and with whom he had one daughter. He was married a second time in 1919, to Amelia M. King, with whom he had two more children.

Stanley came to the Transvaal Colony in 1905 to take up an appointment as professor of metallurgy and assaying at the Transvaal Technical Institute in Johannesburg. This institute subsequently became the Transvaal University College, then the South African School of Mines and Technology, and in 1922 the University of the Witwatersrand. Stanley was a fine teachers, very much liked by his students, and remained head of the university's Department of Metallurgy and Assaying until his retirement in 1939. However, he was also active in research and industry, and practised as a consulting metallurgist. In 1934 his efforts led to the establishment of the Mineral Research Laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand, financed by the Department of Mines and with him as its director. It later became the Government Metallurgical Laboratory (1944), and later still the National Institute for Metallurgy.

The shortage of iron and steel during World War I (1914-1918) caused Stanley to consider local iron and steel production. In 1917 he designed two small blast furnaces for iron smelting, the first of their kind in southern Africa, which were erected at Vereeniging and Pretoria and produced their first pig iron in 1918. Around the same time he collaborated with Professor William Buchanan, electrical engineer, in the initiation and supervision of the first local steel production in an electric furnace, at the Witwatersrand Cooperative Smelting Works. The steel was required for the local manufacture of shoes and dies for stamp milling on the mines. As an early advocate of the steel industry in South Africa he wrote extensively on its various aspects. His papers included "A South African iron industry: Prospects and possibilities" (Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, 1917); "Iron and steel in the Union of South Africa" (South African Journal of Industries, 1917, 1920, in five parts ); and "Possibilities of base metal production in South Africa" (South African Mining Journal, 1918). His other metallurgical papers included "Some practical aspects of micro-metallography" (Journal of the Transvaal Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1909/10); "A laboratory comparison of tube mill pebbles" (Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa, 1908); "Some experiments on smelting titaniferous iron ore" (Ibid, 1909/10); "Notes on absorption of gold on amalgamated copper plates, cast iron retorts and amalgam trays" (with M.T. Murray, Ibid, 1911/12); "Note on the microstructure of Transvaal platinum" (with P.A. Wagner*, Ibid, 1925); "A method of preparing diamond-impregnated rock-drilling bits and similar tools" (with D.A.P. Wilson, Ibid, 1938); "Metallurgical progress in the Transvaal during the decade 1914-1924" (South African Journal of Science, 1924); and "On the preparation and properties of pure electrolytic zinc" (Ibid, 1927). He was co-editor, with James Moir*, of A textbook of Rand assay practice (Cape Town, 1923, 276p). In 1926 he obtained the degree Master of Science (MSc) in Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand for a thesis on Iron and steel in the Union of South Africa. The university awarded him the degree Doctor of Science (DSc) in Engineering in 1932, on the basis of his published work on metallurgical and allied subjects.

Stanley also published a number of papers on geological topics, for example: "A specimen of Itacolumite (flexible sandstone) from Swaziland" (Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, 1909); "Note on the Thaba Bosigo sand dunes" (Ibid, 1912); "On a meteorite from N'Kandhla District, Zululand" (Ibid, 1913); "Notes on a Transvaal occurrence of native sulpher" (Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa, 1912/13; and "The iron ores on the Pretoria town lands", with P.A. Wagner*, in several issues of the South African Mining Journal. Some later papers by him dealt with prehistoric metallurgy, for example: "Primitive metallurgy in South Africa: Some products and their significance" (South African Journal of Science, 1929); "The composition of some South African bronzes with notes on the methods of analysis" (Ibid, 1929); "Some products of native iron smelting" (Ibid, 1931); and "Finds of metallurgical interest at the Zimbabwe Ruins" (Journal of the South African Chemical Institute, 1931).

Stanley became a member of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa in 1905, served on its council for several years, as joint vice-president for 1913/14, as president for 1914/15, and received its Gold Medal for research. He was a founding member in 1912 of the South African Association of Analytical Chemists (from 1921 the South Africa Chemical Institute), serving on its council until 1933 and as president for 1913/4 and again for 1921/2. In 1905 he became a member of the South African Asociation for the Advancement of Science, served on its council for many years, was president of Section B in 1914, and president of the association in 1939. He was a member of the Government Industries Advisory Board during its existence; served on the original Commission of Examiners for the Government Certificate of Competency in Assaying in 1917; was chairman of the Chemical Committee of the South African Standards Institution in 1934; and was a member of the consultative committee of the Johannesburg Public Library from 1927 to 1964, and its chairman from 1945 to 1964. In 1946/7 he served as president of the Associated Scientific and Technical Societies of South Africa. After his retirement he became metalllurgist to the Electricity Supply Commission (Witwatersrand and Free State).


List of sources:
Council for Geoscience. Catalogue of publications of the Geological Survey and government publications on the earth sciences (Compiled by R.R.M. Price). Pretoria: Council for Geoscience, 1997.

Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 4, 1981.

Goode, R.C.J. 75th Anniversary of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1969, Vol. 69, pp. 510-541.

Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology.... Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoirs No. 18 (1922), 25 (1927), 27 (1931), and 30 (1937).

Hubbart, P. A bibliography of Zimbabwean archaeology to 2005, Version 1.0, January 2007 (electronic file received from author).

Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa, 1908-1914, Vol. 8-10, 12, 13 and 14; 1934, Vol. 34.

Journal of the Transvaal Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1909/10, Vol. 8.

Levin, J. A commemorative note on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Government Metallurgical Laboratory. Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1959, Vol. 60, pp. 174-178.

Murray, B.K. Wits, the early years. A history of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and its precursors, 1896-1939. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1982.

Orr, J. Presidential address. Associated Scientific and Technical Societies of South Africa, Annual Proceedings, 1938, pp. 15-86.

Schyjf, B. An historical overview of the South African Institute of Assayers and Analysts, 1919-1992. Analytica, 1994, Vol. 2(1), pp. 8-30.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1905/6, 1908-1914, 1917, 1918.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

South African Chemical Institute. Proceedings and list of members, 1921-1922 and 1933-1934; List of members, 1958.

South African Journal of Science, 1924-1931, Vol. 21-26, 28.

South African who's who, 1908, 1919/20, 1939.

Who's who in southern Africa, 1961.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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