Philip Reece

Philip Reece. – Orchard Cross 1955 – 1993

Phillip Oliver Reece C.Eng., O.B.E., M.I.C.E., F.I.Struct.E., F,I. W.Sc., who was Director of the Timber Development Association (TDA) from 1948 to 1961, died in 1993 at the age of 89.

Phillip Reece came to timber from a background of municipal engineering in Birkenhead and Wembley. During the war he was seconded to the Ministry of Works where he worked on a wide range of structural engineering projects that included the use of timber in prefabricated buildings. Timber at the time was mainly used in a traditional manner and Reece was quick to realise that savings could be made by the application of design methods well established by competitive structural engineering materials such as steel and reinforced concrete.

The shortage of timber continued in the immediate post war years and when Reece joined TDA in 1946 as Director of Constructional Research, a priority was to save timber and at the same time widen its use as a structural engineering material. He introduced standardised designs for timber roof trusses, the most successful of which was the TDA house roof truss, and encouraged the use of well established North American Timber Engineering methods based on stress graded timber, split-ring connectors, glued laminated timber and structural plywood.

It was Reece’s appreciation of the need for up to date design data generated by research on the engineering properties of timber that lead to the opening of TDA’s Research Laboratories in 1955 at Tylers Green. The research staff worked closely with an expanded TDA Design Service and exciting projects using shell roof construction, and curved glued laminated arches and frames became commonplace.

The 1960s was the decade which saw the trussed rafter develop from a novel form of roof structure to the automatic choice of, if not all builders, then certainly that of the major builders. During this decade Reece moved to Powell Duffryn Timber Holdings as Director of Industrialisation: finally he joined the trussed plate manufacturer Hydro-Air International, where he remained until his retirement in 1979.

Phillip Reece’s influential contribution to the timber industry was recognised in 1978 by the award of the OBE; in 1974-5 he received the Lewis Kent Award of the Institution of Structural Engineers for his services to the profession. Both honours were richly deserved.

Source: The Journal of the Institute of Wood Science