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Obituary: Professor John Bensted

John Bensted

16 December 2019

It is with regret that SCI announces the death of member Professor John Bensted. He was a long standing and invaluable supporter of the Construction Materials Group (CMG) and SCI London Section.

Professor Bensted (BSc, PhD, DSc, CSci, CChem, CEng, SCImem, FRSC, FIMMM) was born on the 2 March1942. John commenced his career in the laboratories of Blue Circle cement and studied at Woolwich Polytechnic where he gained a BSc Special Chemistry degree in 1964. He went on to obtain a PhD in “Coordination and Analytical Chemistry” and with other students he helped validate many of the analytical methods detailed in Quantitative Inorganic Analysis by Arthur I Vogel. His contacts with Arthur Vogel were the basis of lectures that John presented later for the London Group to the Chemistry Departments at UCL and University of Greenwich.

An international expert on all types of cementitious materials, John shared his knowledge for the benefit of others and was a true believer in fairness and justice in employment and industry. Within SCI CMG John was Secretary, Program Secretary, Chairman (twice) and recipient of the SCI Distinguished Service Award. In 2010 John’s contributions to SCI were recognised with the award of the Lampitt Medal for his sustained and notable work on behalf of all members.

John had an amazing aptitude for acquiring and utilising knowledge on all aspects of cement and allied material properties. Incidentally, a polyglot facility for European languages was of great help for conferences and standardisation meetings. John made great contributions to British Standards and International Norms often acting as an SCI delegate.

An episode of which he was particularly proud involved the development of special cement that could withstand dampness (until deliberately mixed with water) for use in runway repairs and extension of Port Stanley following the Falklands War. He even persuaded the Governor, Sir Rex Hunt, to come to the Society and share his recollection of events. In later years John worked with BP at senior management level, making particular contributions to the development and understanding of Oil Well Cements and adjuvants. John also made numerous overseas trips to North and South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. Ultimately John became an independent expert on all aspects of cement and concrete chemistry, being in demand for advice and Expert Witness services on performance and durability. During his career John published over 500 technical papers and gave more than 100 conference presentations, all acknowledged to be valuable contributions to our understanding of construction materials chemistry.

John married Josephine (Jo) in 1976. And when not thinking, talking, or problem-solving cement and concrete chemistry, he was a devoted husband, and father to Jonny and Roland and daughter-in-law Jiyeon. He had an interest in steam railways and football. It was a great loss to the Society, Academia, Industry and particularly family when John latterly suffered from dementia.

We extend our sympathy and condolences to all. In a beautiful gesture Jo Bensted decided that John should be buried wearing his Society of Chemical Industry tie.

Jasbir Lota

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