Hatton, Sir Ronald 1886-1965

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Sir Ronald Hatton was one of the most distinguished horticulturists in the world. He was born in Hampstead in North London on July 6, 1886, the son of a London barrister. His formal education included Brighton College, Exeter School, Oxford University and Wye College. At Oxford he majored in medieval history but his love of the land made him undertake his distinguished career in agriculture.

After leaving Oxford he worked on a farm for a year and then went to Wye College in Kent where he joined the staff after a period of study. Wye College Fruit Experiment Station later became known as the East Malling Research Station and Hatton became acting director of the station during World War I. He soon became its long time director.

Hatton developed the Research Station from "a hut in the corner of a 22-acre field" until at the time of his retirement the Station possessed 360 acres of land, well equipped laboratories and a staff of over 80 persons.

Hatton was known as a very able administrator and an individual able to enlist the support for the research station of the outstanding plant physiologists, politicians and agricultural personnel of the time.

He initiated the work of classification, testing and standardization of fruit tree rootstocks. This innovation has brought continuous fame to East Malling since the dwarfing and non-dwarfing rootstocks found in many nurseries of the time were classified into the Malling I to XVI series. In cooperation with the John Innes Horticultural Institution located at Merton near London, he aided in the development of the rootstock breeding work leading to the production of the Malling-Merton series.

In 1932 the Research Station was accepted by the University of London as an institution for which candidates could register for higher degrees. As a result many individuals from over the entire world have taken advanced degrees at East Malling.

He was responsible for many scientific papers which were always well written. He also was editor of the Journal of Horticultural Science. Even after his retirement and until his death he was an associate editor of this Journal.

He traveled extensively throughout the world discussing the value of clonal rootstocks.

The Imperial (now Commonwealth) Bureau of Fruit Production was established at East Malling with Hatton as the first director and later a consultant director. Its journal, Horticultural Abstracts, has become a standard reference throughout the world.

In the post World War II period he took a prominent part in establishing the National Agricultural Advisory Service (similar to our National Cooperative Extension Service) and the National Fruit Trials, now distinguished because it contains a very large collection of cultivars of various kinds of fruit.

He was honored by the Queen with a knighthood in 1949. The Royal Horticultural Society awarded him its most famous honor, the Victoria Medal of Honor in 1930. He was awarded many distinctions by institutions abroad.

Hatton was buried in the East Malling Churchyard overlooking the East Malling Station where he spent so much energy and enthusiasm. The East Malling Research Station today stands as a monument to his resourcefulness, foresight, and competence.