Michael H Cobb is the oldest person on record to be awarded a PhD by Cambridge University - at the age of 91. His magnum opus The Railways of Great Britain: A Historical Atlas
shows all of the railway lines in Great Britain that were open to traffic between 1807 and 1994.
Born in September 1916, Michael Cobb attended Harrow School and read mechanical sciences at Magdalene College, Cambridge. On taking his degree in 1938, Cobb joined the Royal Engineers and in 1940 participated in the Battle of France, the Dunkirk evacuation and also trained commandos and saw action at Nijmegen. En route to the Far East in 1944 his troopship was sunk in the Mediterranean Sea. After the war he joined Military Survey, becoming FRICS. He retired in 1965 as a colonel and spent some years as a professional cartographer before becoming fully retired in 1971.
Cobb had been a lifelong railway enthusiast, and in 1978 he set about creating the most detailed study of the history and geography of British railways ever attempted. For 18 years he researched and wrote his atlas, completing it in 1996 and having it published in 2004. His work was recognised by the award of the PhD and sold 3000 copies of the atlas in two editions.