Local heroes – Arthur Doodson, 1890–1968

Arthur Thomas Doodson was the son of a Lancashire cotton mill manager. In his youth he was a keen piano player and a perhaps would have become a teacher – but he fell profoundly deaf. He designed and made his own hearing aid (long before portable hearing aids were commonplace).

Arthur Thomas Doodson
Doodson at work in the observatory

Doodson became a mathematician and developed great enjoyment and skill in performing calculations and devising new methods for deriving mathematical tables. He had been studying for an M.Sc. at the University of Liverpool in 1913 where he met Joseph Proudman. Subsequently in 1919 he was invited by Proudman to become Secretary of the newly formed Liverpool Tidal Institute and in 1929 became resident at Bidston Observatory as Deputy Director of the Liverpool Observatory and Tidal Institute.

His greatest contribution was in the practical analysis of tides and their prediction, in which he gained a worldwide reputation, and led to Bidston becoming responsible for almost two-thirds of the world’s tidal predictions. In addition, his other studies into the meteorological perturbation of sea level underpinned later storm surge investigations. Doodson was Director from 1946 to his retirement in 1960.