Brian Bristow, 1937-2008

January 31, 2008


Out of Africa and into a lecturing role in the northwest of England, Brian Bristow's infectious enthusiasm for geography soon rubbed off on his students.

With three years' experience teaching in rural Zambia under his belt, Dr Bristow returned to Britain and took a job at Poulton-le-Fylde College in 1970.

His former colleague Howard Phillips recalls: "His enthusiasm for geography and teaching was infectious, and at the end of his first year we organised a three-week field-study tour in Kenya and Uganda, taking nearly 100 students.

"It was an incredible and highly successful feat of organisation and a lifetime experience for both students and staff. I remember the cost was £125 per head."

Dr Bristow helped to set up a postgraduate course in education and developed courses in social and historical geography. His college later merged with Preston Polytechnic, and his experience transferred easily to the BA humanities degree at the polytechnic, which was later to become the University of Central Lancashire.

His research focused on the spatial social geography of 19th-century Preston, for which he was awarded his PhD.

Mr Phillips said: "Brian believed absolutely in the value of fieldwork in education. He led field weeks in Britain, Spain and France, and many of those who participated will have fond memories of him.

"I recall driving a polytechnic minibus full of students around the Arc de Triomphe trying desperately not to lose the one Brian was driving ahead of me."

In 1989, Dr Bristow, a keen yachtsman who also enjoyed building kit cars, took early retirement.

Mr Phillips said: "Brian literally sailed off into the sunset to enjoy his retirement. Although 18 years may seem a long time, (his retirement) was cut short far too prematurely.

"I will remember him with great affection. We were on the same wavelength, and as the head of department I knew that I could always rely on Brian."

Dr Bristow died on 5 January, six months after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He leaves his wife Therese, two children, Lesley and Grahame, and six grandchildren.

Mike Clark, senior lecturer at UCLan's School of Built and Natural Environment, said: "Brian was a most diligent, dedicated and imaginative teacher. He always had time for students, enjoyed the challenges of academic life and had consistently high standards and expectations that rubbed off on students and colleagues.

"It is characteristic that he was effectively expelled from the hospice for overstaying its six-week limit, and that he refused chemotherapy on the grounds that it would do someone else more good."

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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