Dr Murray Mitchell

We are sorry to let colleagues know of the death, on 26 March 2012, of Dr Murray Mitchell, former Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences (later School of Earth and Environment).

Dr Mitchell worked for the British Geological Survey for thirty years.  He specialised in the study of fossils found in Carboniferous limestone.  Following his retirement, Dr Mitchell formed an honorary association with the Department of Earth Sciences.

Amongst the projects with which he was involved was the Yorkshire Quarry Arts Project, an interdisciplinary initiative involving artists, scientists, industrial organisations and educational institutions.  Project Co-ordinator Bobbie Miller writes:

"Murray was introduced to me by Jane Francis to help us with our Yorkshire Quarry Arts projects that ran from September 2003 to March 2011. Murray realised that the geology around Ingleton had similarities with that in the Lake District and had introduced us to the musical instrument in Keswick made from ringing rock. Over the years he helped us to find numerous sites of different ringing rocks and together we visited many quarries. Without him we would never have made the Brantwood Musical Stones which were launched by Dame Evelyn Glennie in August 2010. Although he had studied geology all his life he had not realised that rocks could make such melodic sounds and became fascinated by the array of ringing rocks in Cumbria."

The Brantwood Musical Stones, an instrument (a lithophone) made from musical stones, is based at Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin, in the Lake District.  Other collaborators in this Ruskin Rocks Project included Bruce Yardley (Earth & Environment) and Kia Ng (Computing and Music).

Together with Francis Dimes, the former Curator of Building Stones at the Geological Museum in South Kensington, Murray Mitchell wrote The Building Stone Heritage of Leeds.  Published under the auspices of The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in 1996, a second edition appeared in 2006.  The book provides a comprehensive survey of the city's buildings constructed using stone, including detailed identification of the types and origins of the stone used.

Dr Mitchell's funeral will be held at 1.00pm on Wednesday 11 April 2012 at Lawnswood Crematorium, Otley Road, LS16 8AA, and afterwards at St Edmund's Church Hall, Lidgett Park Road, LS8 1JN.  There are to be family flowers only please.  Donations to Yorkshire Cancer Research would be very gratefully received after the ceremony.

Dr Mitchell is survived by his wife, Lesley, son, David, and three grandchildren.

The flag on the Parkinson Building will be at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

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