In 1967 Paul Taylor was given five years to live by his doctors so, aged 59, he decided to retire.
In 1972 he received a call, out of the blue, from Canon Carpenter, Dean of Westminster, who was a friend from his teenage years. Westminster Abbey were experiencing increasing problems with their poor acoustics, especially during big events which were broadcast.
A sound advisory panel had looked at various current technical solutions but without success. Canon Carpenter remembered the work Paul Taylor had done for St Paul’s Cathedral twenty years earlier (the famous “gunshot” experiments) and asked for his help.
Paul Taylor was by no means sure he could help, as he had no recent experience of sound systems or how acoustics had developed in recent years.
However, he thought that it would be the perfect antidote to his continuing chronic ill-health, which left him house-bound in winter. It would be good therapy to read up on his old subject and see whether a new solution could be found.
Typically, he ended up patenting two new inventions (No 9883/72 in 1972 and No 6217/75 in 1975) both relating to carefully-phased linear loudspeaker arrays. He gifted the commercial benefits and financial proceeds to Westminster Abbey’s Dean and Chapter.
Paul Taylor was made a Fellow of various professional bodies and was President of the Society of Environmental Engineers in 1973, of which he was a founding member. He eventually died in 1980 aged 72!