Percy Wilson: [Heath 1908–1911]

Percy Wilson was born on 8 March 1893, the son of T.W. Wilson, a baker and confectioner. After attending Heath Grammar School from 1908 to 1911, he studied at The Queen’s College, Oxford gaining first class honours in mathematics in 1915. From 1915 to 1919 he served as an instructor in the Royal Navy, becoming lecturer in Applied Mathematics at the Royal Naval Engineering College.

From 1919 he was an administrative officer in the Ministry of Education moving in 1938 to become Principal Assistant Secretary at the Roads Department of the Ministry of Transport until his retirement on grounds of ill-health in 1953.

In 1923 he happened to pick up the third edition of The Gramophone magazine and read in it an article about needle tracking error which, with his mathematical background, he was able to solve. Calling in at the magazine’s offices the following year, he met the editor, told him of his solution and was invited to write an article on it which led to his appointment as technical adviser in 1924. He co-wrote Modern Gramophones and Electrical Reproducers with George W. Webb, chair of the magazine’s Expert Committee, in 1929. During this period he made significant contributions to the development of the quality of gramophone speakers. He withdrew from this work with the outbreak of war in 1939 but, following his retirement in 1953, he became technical editor for The Gramophone until 1966 and wrote The Gramophone Handbook in 1957. Right from the outset he had written numerous articles on subjects related to sound reproduction. He resigned from the magazine in 1966 to become an acoustics and audio consultant.

His other interest was Spiritualism. His grandfather had been a Unitarian minister who became a Spiritualist medium and preacher. Percy became a minister in 1941 and was president of the Spiritualists National Union from 1950 to 1953. From 1958 to 1964 he was a vice-president of the College of Psychic Science and from 1951 to 1962 managing director of Psychic Press Ltd. He was also a trustee of the Spiritual Truth Foundation from its inception in 1965 and a trustee of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers from its foundation in 1951.

He was married and had three sons. The oldest, Laurence, was a barrister. His other two sons, Professors Geoffrey and Richard Wilson () were leading scientists in their own right with studies in acoustics and physics. He confessed that a notice given him in America hung just by the front door saying:

The opinions expressed by the husband in this house are not necessarily those of the Management.

He died on .

Thanks to Marie-Cécile Besançon-Seed for drawing our attention to Percy.