Jacques Heyman

An extraordinary event then occurred when Heyman was 38, and feeling that he would never get a Chair. In 1963, a Chair was created at Oxford, and Heyman duly appointed, with the promise of great things to come. However, within a couple of months, it became clear that the funds promised were not available, and there had never been any intention of procuring any. This must be one of the shortest tenured positions held - after only ten weeks, Heyman resigned from the post, never actually having gone to Oxford, although his appointment was duly recorded in the 'Who's Who' of that year.

He 'returned' to Cambridge to find that his lectureship had already been filled, but his letter of resignation was soon found and torn up, so that a new lectureship was effectively created in order to retain this great mind. A couple of years later, in 1971, Heyman was promoted to Reader and then became the first ad hominum Professor in the Department of Engineering.

Heyman had always been a contender for the post of Head of Department to succeed Professor Mair, but with characteristic modesty he states that Shercliff was 'of a different order of brightness'. On Shercliff's death, however, Heyman stepped in to the breach.

His stated aim as Head of Department was "to make the place run as an efficient machine. I tried to be invisible - letting people get on with the research they wanted to do, without filling in forms". To help achieve this end, Jacques was responsible for promoting the key administrative staff to officer level, and thus effectively creating what is now the office floor. The administrative staff in turn remember his fearsome eye for precision and detail.