Until 1965 the Water Department of the Institute of Geological Sciences had two principal functions – data collection and a national groundwater advisory service, but a limited research role. A change in the legislation then led to the loss of the advisory service but a major increase in the research role, backed by the support of successive Directors. After two years in which outstanding commitments were met and six new staff recruited, a portfolio of research projects was introduced. These were principally applied projects in the UK and overseas, but with a continuing background of fundamental studies. The most successful projects involved hydrogeochemistry; mechanisms of matrix flow in the Chalk; diffuse pollution from agriculture; point source pollution from landfills; groundwater/surface water interactions; automation of well records for publication; hydrogeological maps and the application of hydrogeology to civil engineering projects. The development of advisory work overseas was also important. The presence of the Hydrogeological Department in the Institute of Geological Sciences and its introduction of innovative techniques and ideas had a significant influence on the development of the hydrogeological community in the UK.