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Chandler, Tony John (1928–2008), geographer and climatologist, was born on 7 November 1928 at the City Maternity Home, Westcotes Drive, Leicester, the second son of Harold William Chandler (1893–1975), hosiery factory manager, and his wife, Florence Ellen, née Moore (1894–1973). At the time of his birth registration his parents lived at 17 Equity Road, Leicester. He was educated at Hinckley grammar school (1939–42) and Alderman Newton Boys' School in Leicester (1942–6). In 1946 he entered King's College, London, to read geography and mathematics, before graduating in 1949 with a first. A diploma in education followed in 1950. He spent his national service teaching meteorology to servicemen at RAF Cranwell. In 1952 he was appointed assistant lecturer in geography at Birkbeck College, London. On 4 September 1954 he married, at St Anne's Church, Leicester, Margaret Joyce Weston (1927–2001), daughter of Willie Bertram Weston. They had two children, Kathryn (b. 1957) and Adrian (b. 1960).

In 1955 Chandler completed his MSc thesis on the historical geography of Leicestershire and began research on London's climate. At the time, Henry Clifford Darby, professor of geography at University College, London, was looking for a climatologist and encouraged Chandler to apply. In 1956 he joined University College as a lecturer, becoming reader in 1965 and professor in 1969. He left for a chair at the University of Manchester in 1973, becoming head of department and chairman of the pollution research unit.

At University College Chandler taught meteorology, climatology, and cartography, and contributed to masters courses in architecture, conservation, hydrology, and planning. His delivery was clear and unambiguous, reflecting his training and belief in the power of rigorous scientific principles. His doctoral thesis, ‘Studies of the climate of London’ (University of London, 1964), gave rise to The Climate of London (1965). This pioneering work used results from his London Climatological Survey that involved schools and private individuals maintaining weather stations and Chandler employing a legendary mobile recording station, housed in a Land Rover that he drove along carefully chosen traverses through London and its suburbs. The survey revealed how the atmospheric environment of a great city functioned; Chandler's accounts of airflow, fog, air pollution, and the ‘heat island’ of the built-up area were outstanding. The survey attracted much attention and was extended by government grants enabling automatic temperature recorders to be installed on the Post Office communications tower in the West End. Its results helped to shape subsequent urban climatological research across the globe. Chandler shared his expertise with his doctoral students working on urban thunderstorms, air pollution, evapotranspiration, transport of atmospheric smoke and sulphur dioxide, and the influence of surface roughness and temperature on urban airflow.

Following the appearance of The Climate of London, Chandler was invited to be the World Meteorological Organization rapporteur on urban climates (1965–9), and president of the joint World Meteorological Organization/World Health Organization symposium on urban climates and building climatology (1968). He was a consultant to the United Kingdom Atomic Research Establishment, Aldermaston, and in 1970 chaired a working group preparing evidence for the royal commission on environmental pollution. He was on the council of the Royal Meteorological Society (1961–4), and became secretary in the early 1970s. He served on the editorial boards of Weather and of Boundary Layer Meteorology. He received the prestigious Back award from the Royal Geographical Society in 1963. During the 1970s his professional commitments included being vice-president of the Royal Meteorological Society (1973–5); a member of the World Meteorological Organization committee on climate and environmental problems (1972–4), of the royal commission on climate and environmental pollution (1973–7), of the Clean Air Council, and of the council of the Natural Environment Research Council (1974–9); and scientific secretary of the Royal Society study group on pollution and the atmosphere (1975–7).

Chandler published Selected Bibliography of Urban Climate (1970) and Urban Climatology and its Relevance to Urban Design (1976), as well as a textbook, Modern Meteorology and Climatology (1972; rev. edn, 1981). He contributed ‘The climate of towns’ to The Climate of the British Isles (co-edited with Stanley Gregory, 1976), and wrote many scholarly articles and scientific reports. He was a pioneer in climatological science and led the way in using geographical knowledge to inform environmental planning.

In 1977 Chandler was invited to become master of Birkbeck College, and took up his post in October. Despite the honour attached to the mastership, dealing with difficult personnel issues at the college proved too great for Chandler, who resigned on medical grounds in January 1979. His decision to leave Birkbeck was devastating for his colleagues, and his later decision to abandon academic work was tragic, since he was arguably the world's leading urban climatologist. He spent his retirement collecting clocks, reading, listening to music, and travelling. In 1989 he was made an honorary research fellow at University College, London, and a visiting professor at King's College. He spent his final years near Eastbourne, his wife having predeceased him in May 2001. He died at his home, 15 Durrell Close, Langney, on 17 July 2008, and his funeral was in Leicester on 5 August. He was survived by his daughter and son.

Hugh Clout and


The Times (29 Sept 2008) · Leicester Mercury (14 Nov 2008) · GJ, 175 (2009), 82–3 · Weather, 64/2 (2009), 53–4 · International Association for Urban Climate Change Newsletter, 31 (March 2009), 2–3 · T. R. Oke, ‘Classics in physical geography revisted: Chandler, T. J., 1965: The climate of London’, Progress in Physical Geography, 33/3 (2009), 437–42 · WW (2008) · personal knowledge (2012) · private information (2012) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert.


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