At the invitation of Professor Walter Frederick Whittard (1902-1966; FRS, 1957), palaeontologist, stratigrapher, and a formidable head of department, Phillips came to the Department of Geology at the University of Bristol in 1948, as Lecturer in Geology. D. T. Donovan (pers. comm. 2000) recalls being told by Whittard that he believed that Phillips’ distinction merited a readership, but that as the university did not (then, at least) appoint directly to readerships, Phillips was offered the position of lecturer on the understanding that he would be promoted to Reader as soon as possible.190 The family, who were keen on caravanning, initially lived in the family caravan for a few months until permanent accommodation could be found. They then moved to Westaway, 89 Coombe Lane, Bristol, and this was to remain their home until Phillips retired from the department, his large Armstrong-Siddeley car being used less and less as traffic congestion increased.
When Phillips arrived at Bristol he was known internationally for his textbook on crystallography and was an expert on optical mineralogy, but while there he never taught either subject, being responsible for the teaching of petrology. This very curious situation (quite inexplicable to those outside the department) arose because when Phillips arrived in Bristol, in his customary polite manner he asked Igor Serge Loupekine (1920-1993), who had been teaching mineralogy, crystallography and petrology in the department since his graduation in 1943 (Savage 1993), what he wished to retain. Loupekine chose the mineralogy and crystallography, and so Phillips taught the petrology.