After graduating from the University of Manchester with an Honours degree in Geology, Geoff joined Pilkington’s R&D Centre at Lathom, Ormskirk in 1969, initially working in the Refractories Department.
This was followed by periods in Raw Materials and Combustion Engineering before returning as Refractories Department Manager in 1978 and latterly as the Group Head of the Glass Technology Group.
During this time huge progress was made in refractories, furnace design, construction and maintenance, raw materials, combustion and furnace operation.
This resulted in a two-threefold increase in furnace campaign lives, a halving of energy consumption and big improvements in glass quality, increasing yields and furnace pulls. Electric melting and pollution control were also increasingly important factors through the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s.
Geoff made an immense contribution to many aspects of these activities, and additionally made crucial inputs in non-furnace areas, not least in the area of Float Bath bottom blocks. Several problems developed during the 70’s and 80’s with surface glazing, the horizontal splitting of blocks and surface flaking.
The splitting and flaking in particular were very major problems, Blocks could lift and flakes up to a centimetre thick could break off during operation, often resulting in stopping the Float ribbon, with considerable disruption to glass production. The resolution of all of these problems was vital to the successful operation of the Float process.
Latterly, as Group Head he was chairman of the Pilkington Group Furnace Design Panel, responsible for the designs of 30 plus flat glass furnaces (and many smaller furnaces) around the Group, and its Licensees. Geoff was the holder of several patents in flat glass manufacturing.
Throughout his Pilkington career, he won many friends with his hard work, approachability, great knowledge, ready smile and good humour. He also travelled extensively to many overseas plants, forming close relationships with everyone he worked with - as witnessed by the many messages of condolence that have been received.
Colleagues had a profound respect for Geoff - he was able to cut through all the chaff and distractions and seize upon the salient, significant facts. His memory was indeed prodigious, and behind his (sometimes creatively drawn) graphs was an enormous wealth of experience and insight gained over many years.
He had the gift of scientific intuition - that ability to synthesise understanding out of a combination of sound technical knowledge and a thousand nuggets of observation and experience of how plants responded in the real world.
Geoff drove himself hard, and could lead others - but it is remembered that he did not suffer fools gladly!
He retired from Pilkington in 1998, but continued to work very actively in the glass industry as a consultant, primarily in the refractories area, but his wide knowledge of the whole glass melting process enabled him to contribute in many areas.
The SGT owes Geoff a debt of gratitude - he was the inspiration behind the highly successful Furnace Solutions series of seminars.
He understood what people in the glass industry needed, he perceived that the melting operation was one hugely significant area in which collaboration was possible without the taint of anticompetitive collusion, and had the strength of personality to persuade others to follow the vision he articulated.
Outside Pilkington, he had many interests, from gardening to flying model aircraft, and he enjoyed holidays in the warmer climes of southern Europe. He also devoted considerable time to charitable work with the Lions in Preston, and Rotary in Ellesmere.
More recently, he was lecturing with the "U3A", the University of the Third Age, giving talks and leading field excursions.
Geoff leaves his wife, Cath, their children Elizabeth and David, and David's family, plus Geoff's twin sister Jennifer and their mother. The thoughts of many colleagues and friends are with them and the wider family at this time of sudden and tragic loss.
Compiled by Gordon Cochrane, David Martlew,,Richard Quirk and John Hartley 20th May 2016