1960 - 1988 Cardiff Uni

Mary spent 25 years at Cardiff University, first as Staff tutor (1962 -1968) and then Senior lecturer (1968 -1988) in Biological Sciences, within the Extramural Department. Mary was given free reign to design the courses and teach the subjects that she thought were valuable and interesting. This was an opportunity that suited Mary down to the ground as she was able to spend her time discovering beautiful, interesting and exciting places to visit, and then design courses that enabled her to talk about a particular subject and lead groups out to see that subject in person.

During this time Mary was also very active with the Cardiff Naturalists' Society (becoming President in 1974-1975) and the Glamorgan Naturalists' Trust, and she co-founded the Merthyr Tydfil & District Naturalists' Society with Jack Evans.

Through the auspices of these organisations Mary worked to facilitate the change in landscape use from one of industry to nature and was involved in the creation of nature reserves or the protection of natural heritage in places such as Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, Clydach Vale Country Park, Coed y Bedw, Coed y Bwl, Dare Valley Country Park, Darran Park, Forest Farm, Flat Holm, the Howardian Local Nature Reserve,​​​​​​​ Lavernock Point, Llyn Fach, ​​​​​​​Pwll Waun Cynon, Taf Fechan Nature Reserve and many, many more.

Mary also continued to travel widely during this time visiting Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, the Channel Islands, Corsica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, USA, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia), Zambia, Zimbabwe as well as England, Scotland and Wales and the Channel Islands! 

Home and unemployed

28 September 1960

On 28 September 1960, Mary arrived back in England after gadding about the world for almost four years

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Agnes, Dot, Marg, Me [Mary Gillham]. Sgurr, Eigg, 1987

Mary the extramural lecturer

8 October 1962

I felt I was getting somewhere when letters came for me addressed to the ExtraRURAL department, even further when they were directed to the ExtraMORAL tutor.

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Penelope joins Team Gillham

April 1963 Read more

Gwaelod-y-Garth: Home, sweet home

April 1963

'Clinging to the lower slopes of the Great Garth Mountain'

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Instructions to Young Ornithologists, IV: Sea Birds

Instructions to Young Ornithologists, IV: Sea Birds published

June 1963

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

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1964, Camargue party. 1st Extra Murals overseas. Jim Case, Paul Nelmes, Gilian Churcher, Olwen Griffith, Marjorie Case, John Cooper, Wilf Phillips, Mary Gillham, Margaret Nelmes, Iris Phillips, Muriel Hopkins, Pat Morgan

First overseas Extramural trip!

April 1964

In April of 1964, Mary led her first overseas Extramural trip to the Camargue region of France.

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A Naturalist in New Zealand

A Naturalist in New Zealand published

June 1966

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

Sub-Antarctic Sanctuary: Summertime on Macquarie Island

Sub-Antarctic Sanctuary: Summertime on Macquarie Island published

June 1967

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

A new Nature Reserve

September 1967

Mairead Sutherland, on behalf of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society, successfully proposes that Forest Farm is recognised as a Nature Reserve. Mary had generated a huge species list of plants found within Forest Farm and wrote about the new Nature Reserve in the Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists Society. 

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Extramurals on island boat at Cleggan pier, in County Galway, August 1970

Across the sea to Ireland

July 1970

In July – August 1970 Mary led a popular extramural study tour to Ireland. This was one of many trips Mary made to Ireland and its islands. You can read more about Ireland in Mary’s book This Island Life and see her photos on Flickr.

Extramurals in Morocco

4 April 1972

From 4 to 14 April 1972 Mary led an extramural natural history study tour to Morocco. You can see the photographs from this trip on our Flickr page here.

Brecon side of scarp from Pen y Fan

Brecon Beacons National Park committee

9 May 1972

From 9 May 1972 to 31 March 1978, Mary served as one of the committee members that administered the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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Mary’s lecture - 1973

24 February 1973

In January 1973 Mary Gillham gave a lecture to students at Bridgend Technical College. The lecture was recorded and here is the digitised version for your enjoyment! There is a short gap in the recording at around 31 minutes where the sound technician had to change audio reels.

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The Natural History of Gower

The Natural History of Gower published

June 1977

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

Mary with HRH The Prince of Wales

Mary and HRH

6 April 1982

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales opens the Glamorgan Naturalists' Trust's new Glamorgan Nature Centre - Mary was on hand to help show him round.

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Swansea Bay's Green Mantle: Wildlife on an industrial coast

Swansea Bay’s Green Mantle: Wildlife on an industrial coast published

June 1982

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

Sir David Attenborough chats with a youngster while Dr Mary Gillham watches on. Picture by Cliff Woodhead

Sir David Attenborough opens Coed y Bedw

12 November 1985

Sir David Attenborough plants a beech tree in one of the Wildlife Trust’s newly acquired nature reserves: Coed y Bedw, just North of Cardiff.

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The pond at Pwll Waun Cynon, in 2016

Pwll Waun Cynon

November 1986

In 1986, Lord Aberdare gave the land surrounding the phurnacite plant to the care of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) - thus protecting the last natural pond in the Cynon Valley.

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Sand Dunes, Glamorgan Heritage Coast Wildlife Series, Volume 1

Sand Dunes, Glamorgan Heritage Coast Wildlife Series, Volume 1 published

June 1987

Find out about more of Mary's written work here!

Find out what happens next during the Retirement years!

July 1987 Read more