Baker was born on 19 March 1901, the son of J W Baker (of Wallasey) and Emily C Westwood. He was educated at Rossall and Clare College, Cambridge and in 1928 married Fiona Mary MacAlister Walker (d.1979).
Baker held many scientific and academic positions including: Technical Assistant, Design Department, Royal Airship Works, 1925; Assistant Lecturer, University College, Cardiff, 1926; Scientific Assistant, Building Research Station, 1928; Technical Officer to Steel Structures Research Committee, 1931-36; Professor of Civil Engineering, Bristol University, 1933-43; Professor of Mechanical Sciences and Head of Department of Engineering, Cambridge University, 1943-68, Professor Emeritus, 1968; Chairman of the Council, School of Physical Sciences, Cambridge University, 1945-72. He was a member of the Civil Defence Research Committee, 1939-1948; the Scientific Advisory Commission, Ministry of Works, 1945-46; the Advisory Council to Military College of Science, 1947-52; the University Grants Committee, 1953-63; a member of Council, British Welding Research Association; President of the Welding Institute, 1971-73 (Brooker Medal, 1977); President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1975-76; Chairman of the Naval Education Advisory Committee, 1958-64; Consultant, Naval Constructional Research Establishment, Rosyth, 1948-63. He was also a Director of companies including: Technical Development Capital Ltd, 1962-74; John Brown & Co. Ltd, 1963-71; Cambridge Fender and Engineering Co. Ltd, 1964-74. Baker was also a Scientific Adviser and in charge of Design and Development Section of the Ministry of Home Security, Air Raid Precautions Department, 1939-43. In 1940 he designed the Morrison indoor shelter.
The most extensive and particularly interesting material in this varied collection is that relating to Lord Baker's wartime work on air raid precautions, analysing bomb and other enemy damage and devising ways of protecting buildings and personnel. There are also important sections on the work of the Department of Engineering in Cambridge University, the University itself and the University Grants Committee. There is considerable material relating to Lord Baker's membership of a wide range of professional bodies, organisations and committees along with copies of many talks and papers prepared for conferences and other gatherings. His firm belief in the need to build up the strength and standing of the engineering profession and improve the quality and breadth of the education of engineers is well illustrated in almost 40 years of speeches, lectures and papers. There are also some cassette tape recordings of his speeches on this subject in the House of Lords between 1978 and 1983.
Lord Baker deposited the bulk of his papers at Churchill Archives Centre in 1973, with a second deposit, mainly of early University Grants Committee files in 1976. After his death, his daughter gave the remainder of his papers to Churchill College, making a collection of over 200 boxes in total.
The papers comprise 10 series: wartime; Engineering Dept.; University of Cambridge; Engineering in general; talks, writings & conferences; visits; University Grants Committee; other committees & interests; correspondence; and personal & miscellaneous.
The collection is owned by Churchill College.
With the exception of a few files, With the exception of a few files, which are still closed (details are available in the catalogue), the collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.
Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Baron Baker of Windrush, LDBA