Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 19:51 UK

Veteran, 91, receives railway PhD

A 91-year-old former soldier has become one of the oldest people to receive a doctorate from Cambridge University.

World War II veteran Michael Cobb, of Plymtree, Devon, earned his PhD by creating an atlas of railway stations built in Britain between 1807 and 1994.

A university spokesman said the book was Colonel Cobb's "magnum opus" and had involved research over 18 years.

Col Cobb graduated from Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1938, joined the Army and saw action at Dunkirk.

'Definitive record'

"The atlas is a remarkable piece of scholarship," said Dr Richard Smith, head of the university's geography department.

"It is a definitive record. It is not just of interest to the enthusiast but a vital tool for anyone seriously interested in the economic geography and history of Great Britain. There is nothing like it."

Col Cobb retired from the Army in 1965 and worked in mapping until his retirement in 1971.

More than 40 members of his family will help him celebrate at the University on Saturday when he receives his doctorate.

Some will have travelled from as far afield as Canada, Spain and Texas.

The oldest person to receive a PhD was the Reverend Edgar Dowse who received his from Brunel University in 2004, aged 93.

Col Cobb said he began work on the atlas at the age of 62 and carried out the research in his own time.


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