Tribute to William Armstrong

William Armstrong, a Jack of all trades, died on 6 August 2015, aged 95.

Bill was a reluctant ‘chemist’s apprentice’. The hours in the 1930s were long and not very compatible with his enjoyment of cycling, fishing and hill walking. Those were the days when practically all prescriptions had to be made individually and the final product wrapped and sealed with wax. After a four-year apprenticeship, Bill studied at Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh. During this period, students were part of the University Home Guard and “enjoyed” army training three times a week, plus ‘fire watching’ at the college. Three years later, he gained his PhC as a pharmaceutical chemist.

After teaching Radar in the RAF, he returned to ‘civvy street’ in Edinburgh producing codeine for Macfarlan Smith. He then moved to Perth in Scotland where, at Thomas Harley, he developed a method for manufacturing warfarin, which at that time was used as a rat poison. While there, he was honoured to be invited to join the Scottish Board of Examiners for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

After moving into management, he joined Rosalex in Winsford to set up a new factory and then moved to Horlicks who, at the time, manufactured a large range of tablets and injectables. After it was taken over, he had a short period back in retail pharmacy before going back into industry as the “qualified person” for Wallace Pharmaceuticals.

At age 65 he said goodbye to the analytical laboratory and returned to Perth for a more leisurely life enjoying outdoor pursuits and undertaking charity work for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA). His thirst for knowledge remained throughout his life. He gained an Open University BSc in science when he was in his 70s. He remained very active until the last few years and was a distinguished photographer, achieving a Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2015, Vol 295, No 7883;295(7883)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20200001

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