Leonard Bairstow

Sir Leonard Bairstow, CBE, FRS, FRAeS (25 June 1880 – 8 September 1963)[4][2] was an English aeronautical engineer. Bairstow is best remembered for his work in aviation and for Bairstow's method for arbitrarily finding the roots of polynomials.

Sir Leonard Bairstow
Born25 June 1880[1][2]
Died8 September 1963 (aged 83)[3][2]
Alma materRoyal College of Science
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society[4]
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Physical Laboratory

Early life and educationEdit

Bairstow was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, the son of Uriah Bairstow, a wealthy and keen mathematician. As a boy, Leonard went to Queens Road and Moorside Council Schools before going to Heath Grammar School which he attended briefly before going to the Council Secondary School - then known as the Higher Grade School. A scholarship took him to the Royal College of Science where he secured a Whitworth Scholarship which enabled him to carry out research into explosion of gases.


He then went to the National Physical Laboratory at Bushy Park where ultimately he became head of aeroplane research work. He made a major analytical contribution to the report of the R101 inquiry, which sought to discover how the airship disaster occurred.[5] He held the Zaharoff Chair of Aviation at Imperial College London from 1920-1949 and became Professor Sir Leonard Bairstow. For a time his assistant there was Beatrice Mabel Cave-Browne-Cave, a pioneer in the mathematics of aeronautics.

Awards and honoursEdit

He became a member of the Royal Society of London[4] and the Royal Aeronautical Society.


  1. ^ 1939 England and Wales Register
  2. ^ a b c G. Temple (2004). "Bairstow, Sir Leonard". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30543.
  3. ^ England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
  4. ^ a b c Fage, A.; Nayler, J. L.; Relf, E. F.; Temple, G. (1965). "Leonard Bairstow 1880-1963". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 11: 22–40. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1965.0002.
  5. ^ R101 Inquiry

External linksEdit