Sir William Scott Farren (1892–1970) was educated at The Perse before and gaining a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics, and graduated with first-class honours in the mechanical sciences tripos of 1914.
He joined British Thomson-Houston at Rugby, but within a year was persuaded to join the Royal Aircraft Factory to help expand it into a major national centre of aircraft research, development, and design. Farren became head of the aerodynamics department, learned to fly, and played a significant role in the design of the SE5a, a highly successful combat aircraft which went into large-scale production.
In 1918 Farren joined Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. He was officially appointed university lecturer in engineering under the new university statutes of 1926, and was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1933. He also lectured on the strength of aircraft structures at the Royal College of Science in 1922–31.
In 1937 to become deputy to David Pye, the director of scientific research. In 1939 Farren became deputy director of research and development of aircraft under Roderic Hill and in 1940 he moved with him to the newly created Ministry of Aircraft Production, later succeeding Hill as director of technical development.
Both before, during, and after the Second World War, Farren’s influence, and the services he rendered to the Aeronautical Research Committee (renamed Council in 1945) and its various committees, were considerable. He also played a leading part in the setting up of co-operative wind-tunnel facilities by industry to supplement the official facilities. His contributions to aviation were recognized by many honours: he was appointed MBE in 1918, CB in 1943, was knighted in 1952, and elected FRS in 1945. He was made honorary fellow of the American Institute of the Aerospace Sciences, and also of the Royal Aeronautical Society, of which he was president in 1953 and in 1956 he received its gold medal.