Robin Ralph Jamison (1912-1991)


   1. His childhood

Robin Ralph Jamison was born on 12 July 1912 at The Chantry (now Chantry House) in Causeway Street in Horsham, (West) Sussex, England.1,2 The town is 50 km southwest of London and has been in existence since ca AD 950. The name means either “horse town” or Horsa’s home (a Saxon warrior who was granted land in the area). In the early medieval times the town was known for horse trading, and later for iron production and brick making up until the 20th century.3 Robin was the third of four brothers born to Dr Reginald Jamison (1878 – 1942) and Eanswythe Elstrith Heyworth (1877 – 1925).4,5

In 1921 at the age of nine, Robin’s father moved his family to Cape Town in the Union of South Africa. Robin enjoyed sailing off the Cape Town coast with his father and his three brothers, Peter, Antony and Ivor. They took part in many races in the oceans around Cape Town. Robin spent most of his free time assisting his father with building yachts. Later on in his life, he claimed (jokingly, of course) that he developed such big hands because of handling large pieces of timber as a child.4,5

Of all four brothers, Robin was the only one to be educated entirely in South Africa in contrast to Peter, Antony and Ivor who attended secondary school in England and continued there with further training. The reason for this was Robin’s very poor eyesight and he needed assistance.6 His schooling he completed at the Bishops Diocesan College in Rondebosch, Cape Town – a private, independent boys school that was established in 1849 by the first Anglican bishop of Cape Town, Bishop Robert Gray.6,7 Thereafter, Robin was accepted at the University of Cape Town in 1929 at the remarkable age of 16 years – he was academically a very bright child.6 The institution originally opened on 1 October 1829 as the South African College. In 1874, it split into the South African College School (for secondary education) and the South African College (for tertiary education). The latter was renamed the University of Cape Town in 1918 when it gained independence and full university status from the British Education Ministry.8

At first, Robin followed his father’s footsteps into medicine but he quickly changed his mind. In 1933, he completed his four-year B.Sc. degree in mechanical engineering combined with chemistry.6,9 As a university student, he was a member of the Cape Town Yacht Club and the Cape Mountaineering Club.4 He achieved his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering in 1937 with his thesis titled The refrigeration gas storage of peaches (original thesis in possession of his son, Tony Jamison). During his studies, however, Robin became increasingly interested in aircraft engines and the aeronautics would eventually become the focus of his career.6,9 He was soon on his way to England in search for work, as career opportunities for aeronautical engineers in South Africa were as scarce as hens’ teeth.

During his studies at the age of 20 years, Robin went to England, departing from Durban and arriving in Southampton on 26 December 1932 on the Carnarvon Castle, owned by the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company.10 The purpose of this trip is not known but is likely that he went to visit his brothers and other family members.

  1. His wife

Robin met his wife, Hilda Watney Wilson while still at university.6 She was the daughter of George Hough Wilson (1875-1950) and Sarah Ann Hearn (1875-1944). Hilda was the youngest of five children and had one sister and three brothers.11 Her father was the Editor of The Cape Times newspaper.6 READ MORE on the Wilsons.

Hilda was born on 6 January 1912 at Orangezicht, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope Province (Cape Province), Union of South Africa. She was christened on 7 March 1912 at St George’s Church in St George’s Street, Cape Town. Witnesses at the ceremony were Charles McGowan Kitching, Hannah Spurrell Wilson and Ethel Mary Wilson.4,12

“As a child, Hilda was a bit of a tomboy. She also used to stutter badly and was neglected in school due to her left-handedness. In the early 19th century, left-handedness was viewed as a dysfunctionality and schoolchildren with this ‘problem’ were often ignored. Only with the help of her elder sister, Helen, did she finally overcome her ‘left-handed problem’. Hilda became able to write in the accepted and ‘correct’ way and proved being cured by becoming top student of her class!” 4“Hilda loved cats and dogs. As a child she used to put out sauces of milk in the nearby woodlands for all the neighbourhood cats – about a dozen would show up! Eventually her parents allowed her to keep her own pet cat on condition that she stopped enticing all the other cats around. Hilda’s hobbies included tennis, horse riding, climbing, sailing and gymnastics. She assisted with Fresh Air Camps for underprivileged children that was organised by her father’s newspaper, The Cape Times. She also ran a Brownie Pack in Cape Town. She continued her involvement with the Brownie Packs (44th Pack) after she moved to Bristol with her husband, where she was affectionately known as Brown Owl or Mrs J.” 4

“She met her future husband at a dance. He, however, didn’t know who she was or where the girl he fancied, lived. He asked a good friend, Jean Malan, if she could obtain this invaluable information for him. Fortunately Jean knew Hilda from the Open Air Camps that they attended together while still at school. Robin did the honourable thing and wrote a letter to Hilda’s parents – which was the custom in those days – requesting their permission to court their daughter. Permission was granted and Robin arrived at exactly the appointed time at Hilda’s house. Hilda opened the door – not ready yet, which turned out to be a life-long habit of not being ready on time – and blurted embarrassingly: “Hello, Funnyface”. Robin, thinking quickly, replied: “If I am Funnyface, then you must be Funnybun” – Hilda’s hair was done up in the fashionable bun shape of the day. And this is how their romance began.”4

After a very short acquaintance, Robin and Hilda became engaged. A month later his fiancée and her family left for England for a holiday and to visit family. They were about to return, when they received a letter from South Africa. Robin was on his way to the United Kingdom in search for work, as career opportunities for aeronautical engineers in South Africa were as scarce as hens’ teeth. A quick decision was made, a cable was sent and all was settled. On 30 October 1937, the two were married at St Jude’s Church, Kensington, London, England. At this point, Robin didn’t have a job yet, but together they sat down and wrote out applications. 5,13,14

Hilda’s grandson, Kevin Jamison, remembers her as warm, talkative, approachable and engaging.5,15 “She was a person who wanted to make a difference in the world. During World War 2, she received training as a VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) nurse. Their visit to South Africa in 1948 opened her eyes to the diminishing roaming herds of wildlife due to uncontrolled hunting and destruction of the environment. She started to support all aspects of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), now known as the World Wide Fund for Nature, whose aim is to protect wildlife and their habitats. She chaired the WWF branch in Bristol, raised financial support and lectured at schools to increase awareness.”4 She was also instrumental in the preservation of the local Badock Woods, which was earmarked for urban development. The Red Deer and Fallow Deer living at the Deer Park on Ashton Court Estate in Bristol was also saved when she rallied the support of the community through petitions and donations that was submitted to the Bristol Town Council.5In 2011, aged 99, she was awarded “The Woman who made a Difference Award, on the occasion of the 100th International Women’s Award Day.5 One year later, on her 100th birthday, Hilda received a note of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch of Great Britain. Hilda died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 100 years and 2 months on 4 March 2012 between 07:00 and 08:00 at 2 The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol, England. She died of natural causes although her dementia progressively worsened over the last ten years of her life. It also affected her speech.16 A funeral service was held at St Peter’s Church, Henleaze.She was cremated at Canford Crematorium, Bristol and her ashes were scattered at Badock Woods and The Downs (Sea Walls).16

   3. His career and personal life

Long before Robin arrived in England, the aero-engine industry battled to enhance the capacity, performance and manoeuvrability of aircraft. But along came Robin with his humble South African degree from a freshly minted university with no legacy – compared to the highly-regarded Oxford and Cambridge graduates (the Oxbridge clan) – and pioneered the first Rolls-Royce ramjet engine. His illustrious career, however, was not without its challenges, difficulties and frustrations.

The 25-year old Robin Jamison kicked off his career a fitter/tester in December 1937 at the Aero-engine Division of Rolls-Royce, situated in Nightingale Street, Derby, Derbyshire, England. Two years later World War II (WW2) broke out. Of all the Jamison brothers, Robin was the only one who was not enlisted for combative military service, but was chained to his desk in a workshop working up to 54 hours per week for six year continuously with no annual leave or time off. There were two reasons his non-enlistment – first, he couldn’t pass the medical evaluation for enlistment due to his poor eyesight and secondly, his developmental work on the Merlin engines at Rolls Royce was considered essential to the war effort. He did, however, put his name down as a local defense volunteer, responsible for the hunting of enemy parachutists.

Three years later after joining Rolls-Royce, in 1940, he transferred to a new department that was set up to develop gas turbine engines (fanjet engines). By 1944, after four years working on the counter-rotating fan engine concept (CR1) project, Rolls Royce dropped the problematic, yet fascinating design of Dr A.A. Griffiths, and Robin had to refocus his efforts on turbine engine controls and exhaust reheat. This left Robin rather frustrated, seeing four years of his work disappearing down the drain. Robin initially assisted with improvements on the Merlin engines to enhance the capacity, performance and manoeuvrability of British planes used in the war, but later transferred his focus to the conversion of the aero Merlin engine into a marine Merlin engine, thus transforming the high-altitude aero-engine to a sea-level marine engine. The latter was used in fast patrol torpedo boats, known as PT boats. Robin and D. Reynolds eventually patented ‘Improvements in or relating to automatic controls for internal combustion gas turbines’ (Patent no 626 045) in July 1949.6,9

These boats were designed for high speed, maneuverability on the water, operating at night and low-speed ambush when it produced no wake and the engine noise level was low. This enabled them to get close enough to strategic coastline targets or to launch their torpedoes at enemy vessels. With no heavy armour, these boats relied upon surprise and their agility at high speed to avoid being hit by gunfire from bigger ships. Three powerful marine Merlin engines, each engine generation 1 240 horsepower, propelled each boat to reach up to 75 km/hr on the open sea. By 1940 the Rolls Royce workshops based at Derby, Crewe, Manchester and Glasgow were manufacturing almost 90% of the Merlin engines used in the war. The Merlin engine, both aero and marine, are often called the engine that won the war, and Robin Jamison played a major role in its success. LOOK HERE at a video clip of PT boats in action during WW2.

Working in Derby during the war was not necessarily safer. Like many other British cities, ports and industrial areas, Derby was raided several times by the Nazi German Air Force between June 1940 and August 1942. Robin’s own workplace was a hot target for the Germans, because this design and development facility in Derby was the heartbeat of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The German pilots, though, had a hard time locating the actual site of the Rolls Royce facility, because the buildings were well camouflaged. The Derby portrait painter, Ernest Townsend had painted the engine workshops, not in the usual army greys and greens, but to resemble a residential district. Sheds and stores became houses, roads and farm land. The water tower was a church, and the big glass workshop a nonconformist chapel. There was a ‘pond’ and ‘trees’ painted on the roofs, too! Robin commented in his journal how “rather dark their offices were owing to camouflage paint over the skylight glass”. The Derby workshops itself were never hit, though, until 27 June 1942 when “Ludwig Siegfried”, a German Donier 217 plane, dropped a bomb that damaged only some central stores, and surrounding houses. Unfortunately 28 civilians died during this raid.

The war was certainly experienced directly at home front, too. Women entered the job market to up production capacity in order to meet the increased demands in military equipment and gear, and to fill the gap left by the men who set out from their workplace to enlist for military service. Robin’s wife was expecting their first child when the war broke out. Hilda stayed at home with their young children but also received training as a Volunteer Aid Detachment Nurse, and assisted where she could. Her eldest son remembers how his mother through them under the dining room table when the air raid siren sounded. It announced a pending air bombing attack by enemy planes! The Jamisons also built a bomb shelter in their backyard and used it on one or two occasions, before it was taken over by the rats.

The bulk of Britain’s’ resources were directed to the war effort, so that civilians’ access to food, clothing, fuel, electricity, metals and many more items were rationed. What also contributed to the shortage of food and other materials, was that the enemy targeted merchant import-routes. The British government, furthermore co-opted many of the general merchant ships directly towards the military effort. As the war progressed many of these vessels were lost due to enemy activity, so that only nine years after the war in 1954 were the last remaining rations lifted. During this time each civilian, both adults and children, received a colour ration booklet – this was to ensure that everybody had a fair share of the available food at fixed prices. On a weekly basis Hilda went to the local shopkeepers were she was registered to buy from and bought the weekly supplies she was allowed to buy for her family, by using the required number coupons from each individual’s food and clothing booklet. Fruit and vegetables were not rationed, that is if one could get hold of it. Even shoe, floor and stove polish were rationed.

The government encouraged civilians in cities and towns to turn their flower beds into vegetable gardens and keep chickens and rabbits in their backyards to supplement their egg and meat quota. Robin Jamison taught himself from a book how to pluck chickens so that they don’t fly off. He often put on an enormous apron and shut himself in the chicken shed from whence loud squawks and other noises emerged. Hilda Jamison also made use of government’s cooking recipe booklets and recipes in newspapers with instructions to make nutritious meals with the simplest of ingredients. In the newspapers also appeared articles by leading writers. As one editor put it: “This is their contribution towards the heartening and sustaining of good spirits of the men and women of their beloved country at a time when all are bearing the extra burdens of responsibility and care.” Hilda kept a large collection of these newspaper clips.

His thoughts and feelings of frustration during the war at Rolls Royce, Robin expressed in a letter, dated 9 July 1944, to his father-in-law, George Wilson, then Editor of the The Cape Times newspaper in Cape Town and a close friend of Prime Minister Jan Smuts (1870 – 1950) of the Union of South Africa. Robin also voiced his desire to return to South Africa permanently. He wanted to help with the advancement of Science and Engineering in South Africa and even had the idea of starting an institution of aeronautical research. He came to love South Africa and its people, since he grew up there. He and his wife were also having difficulty to adjust to the English life and ways, mainly because, according to Robin, the English lacked clarity of vision, imagination and initiative in thought and a perspective view of world affairs that were experienced among people living in the Dominions (semi-independent polities under the British Crown) such as South Africa. The reasons that Robin pointed out were the crowded condition of life, the great industrialised towns and intricately organised society that tended to narrow the English people’s minds.17 His dream of returning to the southern tip of Africa, however, never materialised.

On Victory Day (V-E) when the end of WW2 was announced, Robin joined the crowds in the street playing his accordion. He was later persuaded to join in at the victory celebration party, where there was lots of singing and dancing. There he played his accordion virtually non-stop all night long, and it left him the next day with hands covered in blisters. But who cared? The war was over!

By late 1950, Robin left Rolls Royce and joined the Aero-engine Division of Bristol Aeroplane Company in Bristol, working under Dr S.G. Hooker. Because of the Russian development of an atomic bomb which could be delivered by aircraft, substantial pressure by the British Government was given to the development of both air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. Together with a team led by M.A. Nedham, Robin visited Boeing, Marquardt and John Hopkins University in the United States of America (USA) between January and April 1951. They were there to learn more about the ramjet work of the Americans. Upon returning in May 1951, Robin was appointed in charge of ramjets.6,9  (Ramjets are aero-engines that have rams (no blades) that work at supersonic speed using air compressed by shockwaves, and are superior in performance to fan/blade engines). In 1956, he was appointed Head of Department and Assistant Chief Engineer of the company.18 The success of the Ramjet Department under the leadership of Dr Robin Jamison, was evident by the quality, high-performance ramjets developed by his team. These include the Bloodhound Anti-aircraft Guided Missile and the Sea Dart, both surface-to-air missiles. The Bloodhound Mk2 was deployed in 1958 and used for 30 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF). The system was also sold to Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. The Sea Dart was in service with the Royal Navy until the 2000s and was effectively used during the Falkland War (2 April 1982 – 14 June 1982) and Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991).6,9

Robin had a strong desire to create a focussed, on-going ramjet research programme that would encourage effective liaison with other research groups. His skills in design definition and team management made him the ideal candidate to be tasked with the establishment of a new Advanced Propulsion Research Group (APRG) at Bristol Siddeley Engines Limited (Aero-engine Division, Bristol Aeroplane Company merged with Armstrong Siddeley Company in 1959). He was appointed Engineer-in-charge of ramjet development. This materialised in 1962. He was promoted to Chief Engineer for Research in December 1965. In 1966, Bristol Siddeley Engines merged with Rolls-Royce. This resulted in the disbandment of the APRG and transferal of staff to other research and development departments. Although Robin was appointed Chief Technical Executive for Research at Rolls Royce, Bristol Engines Division, he deeply felt the loss of his pride-and-joy.6,9

Robin’s work in missile propulsion also inspired the exploration into supersonic flight engines allowing for supersonic transport systems such as the Concorde. Robin’s team earned an international reputation for their work during the 1960s and many papers were delivered at international conferences and professional societies. More patents followed.6,9,19-22  Robin was elected Fellow of The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge in 1969. He also played a key role, with British ministerial approval, in forging closer ties with other national establishments as was well as international aerospace companies located in France, West Germany, Sweden, Holland and USA. Robin was highly regarded in government establishments, scientific circles and in the military services. His skills and knowledge was also recognised by the academic world. From 1969-1973, he was part-time Visiting Professor to the School of Engineering at the University of Bath in Bath, a city with a history dating back to AD 60 during the time of the Roman Empire. Robin was teaching and examining engineering students. He supervised final year projects, provided guidance on content development and industry liaison, and pioneered the teaching of the discipline Engineering Design.6,9 One day at the university, he came across a very good friend, Professor Roderick Collar, from Bristol University along with his wife. When Mrs Collar inquired about the reason for wearing his full regalia, Robin replied that he was there in his capacity as a visiting professor. Mrs Collar haughtily replied: “I’ve never understood what a visiting professor does?!” Robin replied: “Well, it’s easy really! I visit and I profess!” While Professor Collar hooted with laughter, Mrs Collar retreated, thoroughly ‘put out’.4 Robin Jamison retired from full-time work at Rolls Royce, Bristol, on 31 July 1975 at the age of 63.6,9

Even though retired, he remained involved in the engineering world. He became a Founder Fellow of the Fellowship of Engineering in February 1976, when its creation was announced by Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. The Fellowship was to provide a means for the exchange of opinion and specialist knowledge, and to give advice on national issues of the day which involve engineering considerations. The inaugural meeting of the Fellowship was held at Buckingham Palace on 11 June 1976 and was attended by 98 Founder Fellows, of which Robin Jamison was one.6,9,23 

He continued to have an illustrious career in England in surface-to-air missile propulsion. Because of his innovative engineering abilities, he pioneered and designed the ramjet engine and patented several related components. He also contributed to the development of the Concorde supersonic flight engine. 

   4. His personal life

Of all Reginald Jamison’s sons, Robin was the only one who did not enlist for combative military service in World War 2, but rather worked in a supporting capacity – he was working at Rolls Royce on the improvement the existing aero-engine technology that would enhance aircraft capacity and performance. During that time, workers were not allowed time-off or  leave. Robin himself worked flat-out for six years without taking any leave.6,9,15 Yet, he still experienced the painful impact of the war, when he lost his older brother Lt Antony Jamison in a tragic submarine accident of the coast of North Wales at the start of the war. This impacted on Robin immensely. His younger brother, Ivor Jamison, was a prisoner-of-war for the remainder of the war after he was captured on 21 June 1942 during the fall of Tobruk in North Africa.

The war was experienced directly at home front too. Food, clothing, petrol, leather and other items such as metals and plastics available to civilians were rationed. Travel restrictions were in place. Women entered the job market to up production capacity in order to meet the increased demands in military equipment and gear, and to fill the gap left by the men who set out from their workplace to enlist for military service. Hilda herself was trained as a voluntary nurse in support of the war effort. Derby itself was raided by the Nazi German Luftwaffe (Air Force) several times between June 1940 and August 1942. During the Second World War, 74 people were killed by German bombing in Derby and over 300 were injured. Robin’s own workplace was a hot target for the Germans! Various factories and industries were targeted including the Rolls Royce facility, the one the Germans really wanted. By 1940, the Rolls Royce engine workshop was manufacturing almost 90% of the Merlin engines that were used in the Allied forces’ Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire warplanes.24-26 LISTEN HERE to the sound of the magnificent Merlin engine in the flying aircraft.

The workshop was never hit, though, until 27 June 1942 when “Ludwig Siegfried”, a Luftwaffe Donier 217 plane dropped a bomb that damaged only the central stores, and surrounding houses. Unfortunately 28 people died during this raid. The reason why the Germans had such a hard time locating the actual site of the Rolls Royce facility was that the building was well camouflaged. Portrait painter, Ernest Townsend (1888-1944) had painted the engine workshops, not in the usual army greys and greens, but to resemble a residential district. Sheds and stores became houses and roads, the water tower was a church and the big glass workshop a nonconformist chapel. There was a ‘pond’ and ‘trees’ on the roof, too!24-26

Although Robin was able to build professional relationships and manage teams successfully, he was a quiet, shy introvert in circumstances unrelated to his work and among strangers.6 Even his children and grandchildren had difficulty to connect with him emotionally at times, experiencing him as emotionally distant and slow to communicate. Yet, he had a very sharp wit.15 “All his life, his children called him ‘Fun’. His grandchildren called him ‘Grandfun’. There was one time, however, that his children called him ‘Dad’ instead of ‘Fun’. This happened after the Jamison family visited South Africa in March 1949. They were visiting family but Robin was also seeking job opportunities. At that time Tony was eight years old, Jean was six years old, Robin jr. was three years old and Shirley one year old. While staying at Hilda’s sister who lived on the outskirts of Johannesburg, all their cousins were going down with various illnesses including measles. The Jamison children were quarantined and prevented from returning home for six months. Robin had to return to work in England, though, and did so after six weeks. When Hilda and the children eventually returned to Derby, Robin met them at the airport. Due to the long separation, the children became rather shy of him and hesitatingly called him ‘Dad’. Quietly he asked: “Aren’t I ‘Fun’ anymore?” They promptly got over their shyness.”4

Robin moved his family from Derby to Bristol in 1950 when he started his new job at Bristol Aeroplane Company. The house where they lived was situated at 2 The Crescent in Henleaze, a north-western suburb of Bristol.4,5 In 2015, Robin’s youngest daughter, Jean passed away, who lived in the house with her mother, who died three years earlier.15 The house was finally sold in August 2017. It was built in 1931 and was occupied by the Jamison family for 67 years.27 Indeed, this house was home to the Jamisons for so long that selling of the home must have felt like loosing another dear family member! “In bygone days, Bristol was a very small and rural village with one main street and a few shops. It was surrounded by mainly farms and estates (large houses with land around). When the Jamison family arrived, “The Crescent” was still being developed. The Jamison children would often cycle with their bicycles in the country lane at the top of the hill. Particular after a rain shower, it was great fun to ride through the puddles and see who could cause the greatest splash!”4

“Robin had several hobbies including astronomy, gardening, mountain-climbing, music, walking, rowing and photography. He was a member of the Bristol Photographic Society. Robin was a rather talented man and won several prizes with rowing and photography. He also loved sailing and often during holidays the family would take a sailing trip following the English coastline or sailing off Cornwall. Once, he rescued a boatful of trippers by guiding them into the harbor at night in a thick fog, using his yacht’s compass. He was, of course, an experienced sailor and when prompted by a friend, he would tell matter-of-factly about sailing off the ‘Cape of Storms’ in the Southern Ocean in a force 9 gale for many days. When on board his yacht, Robin cooked most of the meals. He loved cooking – was master of a good stew, his morning porridge was a specialty, and the turkey for Christmas Day dinner was stuffed and prepared with great pride.”4,6

Although he was an emotionally reserved person, he loved his children. When they were little, he affectionately called them “his little monkeys”.17 During his retirement, he and Hilda visited South Africa for two months in 1975 during November and December, returning on 31 December 1975. They toured the country and visited friends and family and in particular the family of his elder son, Tony Jamison, who immigrated to South Africa in February 1973. In 1981, Hilda and Robin left for New Zealand for three months and stayed with the family of their youngest daughter, Shirley. They returned on 22 March 1981 via California, USA where they visited Hilda’s brother, Basil Wilson and his family. One highlight for the elderly parents was the Christmas family reunion in late 1989 when all their children and grandchildren gathered in Bristol for the holidays.4-6 That was the last time for them to all be together as a family, as Robin sr. passed away two and a half years later.

   5. His death

Robin died at the age of 79 years and 8 months on 18 March 1991 in Southmead Hospital, Bristol. The cause of his death was a heart attack.2,4,16 He was cremated and his ashes were strewn by his son, Tony Jamison on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Robin was a renowned man in the history of the Jamison family. He would keep going in spite of difficulties, disappointments, challenges and tragedy; always seeking out opportunities to impact and advance the world around him. His grandson, Kevin Jamison, followed in his footsteps and has become a dynamic senior aeronautical engineer working in South Africa. Since the 1930s, when Robin left for the United Kingdom, the field of aeronautics in South Africa has developed and expanded immensely into a substantial industry.

Robin’s love for South Africa never ceased and before his death, he requested that his aches be scattered on Table Mountain.

   6. His children

Robin and Hilda had four children: Anthony Alan “Tony” (*1940), Jean Alison (*1942), Robin Andrew “Rob” (*1945) and Shirley Ann (1947). Both sons are still alive.

6.1 Anthony Alan

The eldest son, Anthony Alan “Tony” (my husband’s father) was born in 1940 in Derby, Derbyshire, England. He completed his tertiary education in Canada, met his South African wife in England, married in Canada, worked in Zambia and later immigrated to South Africa. Perhaps, a similar adventurous spirit like his great-great-grandfather, Captain James Jamieson? READ MORE on Tony Jamison.

6.2 Jean Alison

Their second child was a daughter, Jean Alison, born on 5 October 1952 in in Chelaston, Derby, Derbyshire, England.4,5,16,28 It is remarkable that she lived in the same house in the same town keeping the same job her whole life. Jean died of pneumonia at the age of 73 years on 23 November 2015 at Bristol Infirmary, Bristol. She was cremated on 8 December 2015 at Canford Crematorium, Bristol and her ashes were scattered at The Downs (Sea Walls). Jean was unmarried and lived with her mother at 2 The Crescent, Henleaze, and later took upon herself the fulltime care of her ageing mother.15,16

She visited South Africa with her parents in November 1975, and again accompanied her mother in 1991 when her niece and her mother’s granddaughter, Wendy Ann Jamison, got married.15

Jean worked in the library of the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Bristol until her retirement.4 As a librarian and someone with a keen interest in her family’s history, she grasped the priceless value of family documents and photos, and the need for their preservation. She prepared a compact Jamison family tree with photos and anecdotes for her nephew, Kevin Jamison, which he collected from her in 2007, when passing through via the United Kingdom on his way back to South Africa from Russia, where he conducted work-related activities. This document has been a most valuable primary resource in the compilation of this webpage. In 2008, Jean sold an extensive collection of memoirs, letters, diaries, journals, deeds, inventories, legal papers, family pedigrees, photos, lecture notes and sermons, books and manuscript poems, all related to various Green and Jamison family members and their friends, on behalf of the Jamison family to the University of Manchester. The collection is kept at the John Rylands University Library, Special Collections. She made an additional submission in 2009.29 These documents are an invaluable treasure of information on the lives of individuals – their social and political circumstances and views, their joys and their challenges – spanning over 140 years from 1830 to 1971.

6.3 Robin Andrew

Robin and Hilda’s third child was Robin Andrew “Rob”, born on 20 February 1945 in Derby, Derbyshire, England. He married Marion Reed (*5 June 1944, Ilford, London) who was the daughter of William Reed and Joan Rogers. Robin trained as an architect. They lived in London for many years, then retired to Brighton, a seaside resort town on the south coast of England.4,5,15,16 The couple has two children, Andrew James (*15 May 1975, London) and Lucy Marion (*22 April 1978, London). Lucy has a daughter, Amazon Marie Green (*7 May 2003, London). 4,5,15,166.4 Shirley Ann

Their fourth child was Shirley Ann. She was born on 24 March 1947 at Nightingale Nursing Home, Derby. She married Edward “Eddie” Taylor (*13 June 1947) on 15 September 1968 at St Peter’s Church, Henleaze, Bristol. Eddie was the son of George Taylor and Hilda Martin. The couple had three children, Martyn David (*1971), Katherine Rosina Lynette “Katie” (*26 November 1973) and Steven Peter (*1 October 1981). The family immigrated to New Zealand somewhere between 1974 and 1980. Unfortunately their marriage ended in divorce in the late 1990s.4,5,15,16,30,31Shirley was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1990s, which was successfully treated, but it unfortunately metastasised to her spine and brain. She died at the age of 53 years on 23 August 2000 at Camden, London, England and was cremated at Canford Crematorium, Bristol.15,16,31Currently Martyn resides in Australia with his wife Meena (née Patel) (*1972) and their two daughters Maya (*2004) and Tara (*2006). Katie has two sons, Oscar Finn Tane (*2015) and Miko Til Tama (*2017) together with life partner, Linda Stannieder, and they live in Germany. Steven stays in New Zealand. He married R’she “Rasha” NN, who was born in Iraq, and together they have three sons; Cyrus (*2006), Malachi (*2007) and Orion Theodore (*2015).15,16


  1. Birth certificate of Robin Ralph Jamison. In safekeeping of his son, Tony Jamison of Randfontein, Gauteng, South Africa.
  2. Robin Ralph Jamison in the England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 [database-on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc. 2007
  3. Horsham.
  4. Kevin Jamison’s Family Tree Album compiled by Jean Jamison. 2007. In possession of Kevin Jamison, Pretoria, South Africa
  5. Photos and documents in possession of Tony Jamison, Randfontein, South Africa
  6. Haworth, l., Nedham, M.A. & Wilde, G.L. 1994 Robin Ralph Jamison. 12 July 1912-18 March 1991. Biographical memoirs of fellows of the Royal Society. The Royal Society Publishing, Vol 40, p 172-194.
  7. Diocesan College.
  8. South African College.
  9. Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Robin Ralph Jamison FRS (1912-1991). Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections. NCUACS 60.3.96.
  10. Incoming Passenger Lists 1878-1960 [database-on-line] Provo,UI, USA: Operations Inc 2008
  11. George Hough Wilson.
  12. Hilda Watney Wilson. South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 6 November 2014), George Hough Wilson in entry for Hilda Watney, 07 Mar 1912; citing Baptism, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, p. 262, William Cullen Library, Wits University, Johannesburg.
  13. St Jude’s Church.
  14. St Jude Courtfield Gardens.,_exterior_2009.jpg
  15. Personal interview with Kevin Jamison, grandson of Robin & Hilda Jamison. 7 April 2014, Pretoria, South Africa.
  16. Jamison Family Tree Website by Rob Jamison.
  17. A transcribed letter written by Robin Jamison to his father-in-law George Hough Wilson. 9 July 1944. In possession of Tony Jamison, son of Robin Jamison, residing at Randfontein, Gauteng, South Africa.
  18. Bristol Ramjet Re-organization. Newspaper article in FLIGHT, 6 January 1956.
  19. Jamison, R.R. & Henderson, F. D. 21 April 1959. Fuel supply systems for ram jet engines. Patent US2882680, United States Patent Office
  20. Jamison, R.R. & Ogilvie, I.B. 5 April 1960. Fuel burners in ducts. Patent US2931175, United States Patent Office
  21. Robin Jamison interview. Aviation Archive: Aviation Heritage.
  22. Rob Jamison: Family portraits 2016.
  23. Fellows at Buckingham Palace. July 1976. Mechanical Engineering. The Monthly Newspaper of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Newspaper article in possession of Tony Jamison, Randfontein, South Africa
  24. Lambert, T. A brief history of Derby, Derbyshire.
  25. Home front during World War II.
  26. German plans to bomb Derby R-R works all failed – until July 27, 1942. Derby Telegraph. Posted on July 23, 2012.
  27. eMail correspondence received from Rob Jamison. 30 August 2017, Brighton, England.
  28. Birth of Jean A. Jamison. England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005. Database on-line. Provo, UT, USA Operations Inc. 2008.
  29. Papers of the Jamison Family (1830-1971), Box 1/2 (etc.), John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester.
  30. Marriage of Shirley A. Jamison. England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Database on-line. Provo, UT, USA Operations Inc. 2010.
  31. Death of Shirley Ann Jamison. England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007. Database on-line. Provo, UT, USA Operations Inc. 2007.
  1. A transcribed letter written by Robin Jamison to his father-in-law George Hough Wilson. 9 July 1944. In possession of Tony Jamison, son of Robin Jamison, residing at Randfontein, Gauteng, South Africa.