Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Samuel Downing was born on 19 July 1811 at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, Ireland. He was the second son of Rev. Samuel Downing, the rector of Fenagh, in the diocese of Leighlin.
Downing studied at Kilkenny College, and from January 1829, at Trinity College, Dublin. He received his BA in Spring 1834. At that time it was not possible to study engineering at Trinity College, so he travelled to Edinburgh, and studied engineering there from 1834-1835. At the same time he spent much of his leisure time in an architect’s office.
After completing his studies, Downing became the pupil of Mr Bushe, and later became his assistant. He was employed on dock works in South Wales, and also designed and executed a road bridge from the Isle of Portland to the mainline. He later worked as resident engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway, and the Taff Vale Railway.
In 1846, Downing was appointed assistant professor of engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, under Sir John MacNeill. MacNeill held the purely honorary post of professor, from which he resigned in 1852. On MacNeill’s resignation, Downing was appointed to the chair of the Practice of Civil Engineering.
His favourite subject was hydraulics. He carried out many experiments in this area, funded by a grant by the Royal Irish Academy. In 1855 he published a treatise on ‘Elements of Practical Mechanics’. In 1875, he published the first volume of ‘Elements of Practical Construction’, and he was working on the second volume at the time of his death.
Downing was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering in 1865, after the Summer Meeting of that year was held in Dublin. He acted as Honorary Local Secretary for the Meeting, and was largely responsible for its organisation.
Samuel Downing died on 21 April 1882.
General Arthur Morin was born on 17 October 1795 in Paris, France. As a young boy he studied in Italy but returned to Paris by 1814, where he completed his studies in mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique. After this, he joined the artillery service and in 1823 was appointed lieutenant in the Spanish Civil War. He then assumed the role of Assistant Professor of Mechanics in the Artillery and Military Engineering School at Metz, where he edited the first publications of Jean-Victor Poncelet. Soon afterwards he succeeded Poncelet as Professor of Mechanics.
At Metz, he carried out experiments on friction, slipping, rolling, traction, and belts. He created and used different forms of dynamometer and this was the main factor in the success of his research. In 1839, he was made Professor of Applied Mechanics, a position specially created for him, at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Paris. In 1849 he was appointed the Director of this institute.
In 1844, he was elected into the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of France. He was juror in the London Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862, and a general commissioner for the Paris Exhibition of 1855.
Of French works known in England, his “Aide Mémoire” is one of the most popular. In addition, his treatises on practical mechanics, steam engines, pumps, hydraulics, motors, strength of materials and ventilation and warming are considered to be standard works. He set up the ventilation of the Corps Législatif, Opera, Châtelet, Gaieté, Lyrique and Vaudeville theatres in Paris. He was also the director of the Northern Railway of France for several years.
In 1867, at the first meeting of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers held in Paris, Morin was made an Honorary Member of the Institution. This was partly because of the valuable contributions he made to the meeting as Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. At the meeting he contributed a paper on the ventilation of public buildings, using the Conservatoire, Theatre Lyrique and one of the public schools as case studies in the description of his system of ventilation. In 1878, the Paris meeting of the Institution was repeated and Morin and the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers rendered the same good services.
General Arthur Morin died on 7 February 1880.
Henri Edouard Tresca was born on 12 October 1814 in Dunkerque, France. He gained a place at the Ecole de Saint-Cyr in 1832 but his love of science led him to transfer to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1833, and in 1835 he continued his studies at the Ecole de Ponts et Chaussées.
James Ludovic Lindsay was born at St Germain-en-Laye, in France, on 28 July 1847. He was the son of Alexander, the 25th Earl, whom he succeeded in 1880, and his wife Margaret. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He married Emily Florence Bootle-Wilbraham in 1869, and they had a daughter and six sons
He devoted himself to astronomy, and soon gained distinction in his chosen field. With the help of his father, he built an observatory at Dunechet, Aberdeenshire, which he presented to the nation, along with its equipment and library of mathematical and astronomical works. Crawford made several astronomical expeditions, including expeditions to Cadiz in 1870, to observe the solar eclipse and to Mauritius in 1874, to observe the transit of Venus. In 1878 and 1879 he was President of the Royal Astronomical Society. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1878.
Crawford had many other interests. He made a scientific expedition during 1905 and 1906 in his steam yacht, ‘Valhalla’. He visited South America, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Madagascar, and brought back a collection of rare birds which he presented to the Zoological Society. Another of his passions was stamp-collecting, and he formed one of the most valuable stamp-collections in England. The Royal Philatelic Society London, of which he was President, established the Crawford Medal in his honour. This medal, awarded annually, is given for ‘the most valuable and original contribution to the study and knowledge of philately published in book form during the two years preceding the award’. Crawford was also named as one of the ‘Fathers of Philately’ by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain.
Lindsay’s English seat was at Haigh Hall, Wigan, and he had strong links with the local community. He served as MP for Wigan between 1874 and 1880, when he was elevated to the peerage. He was chairman of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company for many years, and also served as President of the Wigan and District Chamber of Commerce.
He was created a Knight of the Thistle in 1891 and was a Knight of Grace of St John of Jerusalem and a Commander of the Legion of Honour. He was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1878.
He died on 31 January 1913 at the age of 66.
John William Strutt was born at Langford Grove, Essex, on 12 November 1842. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, he was awarded the Sheepshanks Exhibition in astronomy, and in 1865 he was Senior Wrangler (the highest scoring student gaining a first-class honours in the third year of the mathematical tripos) and the first Smith’s Prizeman. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College the following year. After graduating he developed his laboratory and experimental work at Terling Place, the family seat at Witham in Essex.
In 1871 he resigned his Fellowship to marry Evelyn Georgiana Mary, sister to Arthur James Balfour, later Earl of Balfour and Prime Minister. He succeeded his father as Third Baron Rayleigh in 1873, the same year that he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
During the 1870s he undertook significant work in the fields of acoustics and optics, and in 1871 he proposed a solution to one of the then most puzzling questions in optics: why is the sky blue? His Theory of Sound, published in 1877 was for many years the standard work on the subject.
In 1879 he succeeded James Clerk Maxwell as Cavendish Professor of Physics, where he systematised laboratory instruction in elementary physics in a way that later became the basis for physics education in many other institutions of higher education. He also initiated the research programme that led to the redetermination of the ohm, the ampere and the volt.
He was elected Secretary of the Royal Society in 1885, a position he held until 1896, and in 1887 he succeeded John Tyndall as Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution.
He was chairman of the Treasury committee which recommended the establishment of the National Physical Laboratory, and he subsequently presided over its executive committee. He was Chief Gas Examiner under the Metropolitan Gas Acts, and he was chairman of the explosives committee of the War Office. From 1896 to 1911 he was chief scientific adviser to Trinity House.
Rayleigh was one of twelve upon whom King Edward first conferred the Order of Merit in 1902. In 1905 he became President of the Royal Society, and a Privy Councillor that same year. In 1908 he was elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
The recipient of many honorary degrees and awards, he was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1896.
He died at Terling Place on 30 June 1919 at the age of 76.
In 1846, he became assistant to Professor Hoffman, who had founded the College. After five years in this position, he was appointed to succeed Michael Faraday as Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Military Academy. He held this post until 1854, when he was appointed Chemist to the War Office. He remained in this position until 1891, serving as an adviser on all matters relating to ammunition and explosives. He was also President of the Explosives Committee from 1889-91.
Sir Frederick Abel and Professor Dewar were both members of a Select Committee set up by the Government in 1888 to examine the various kinds of smokeless powder in existence, and together they patented the substance now known as cordite.
In conjunction with Sir Andrew Noble he carried out investigations into the processes that aided the firing of black powder. He made important contributions to the theory of detonation. He was also interested in the construction of electrical and other fuses. In 1879, he was appointed member of the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines and his knowledge of blasting powders was invaluable. He contributed much on the subject of the flash-point of petroleum, resulting in the legislation of his open-test apparatus in 1868. Later, when it proved subject to manipulation, the close-test instrument was designed and legalised in 1879.
In 1881, he undertook for the Research Committee on the Hardening etc. of Steel, experiments on the condition in which carbon exists in steel, following this up with a second report in 1883 and the final report in 1885. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1883 and served as an Honorary Secretary until his death. He retired from his appointment at the War Office in 1888. From 1887-1900 he acted as Organising secretary of the Imperial Institute.
He was made a Companion of the Bath in 1877, knighted in 1883, promoted to the rank of Knight Commander of the Bath in 1891, and created a Baronet in 1893, after the opening of the Imperial Institute. In 1901 he received the honour of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. He also held the Albert, Royal, Telford and Bessemer Medals
He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, D.C.L. of Oxford, and D.Sc. of Cambridge. Amongst his various achievements, he had been President of British Association, the Iron and Steel Institute, the Chemical Society, the Institute of Chemistry, the Society of Chemical Industry, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and Chairman of the Society of Arts, and had published several books chiefly associated with explosives.
Sir Frederic Augustus Abel died on 6 September 1902.
Jean-Louis Trasenster was born on 10 February 1816 at Beaufays, near Liége, Belgium. He was educated at the Liége public school and then studied science in the University, where in 1836 he and one other were the first students in the newly established department of mining engineering.
In 1838, he gained by examination the rank of mine manager, and in 1842 was the first to be awarded the title of government mining engineer. In 1840, before he had completed all his diplomas, he was placed in charge of the class of elementary statistics at the University of Liége. In 1844, he was appointed lecturer on mining and held this post till 1879. In 1845, he became inspector of the junior department of the Mining school.
He was made inspector of the practical department and professor of the faculty of science in 1846. He rose by successive promotions to the highest rank in 1855. Meanwhile. in 1849 he was also appointed secretary to the University. In 1880 he was made Rector of the University and in 1883 this appointment was renewed for a further three years.
When the Association des Ingénieurs sortis de L’École de Liége was founded in 1847 by twenty-nine of his former pupils, he was elected their first president. He was re-elected annually for thirty-nine consecutive years until 1886 when he retired.
At the start of his career, he acted as consulting engineer to the John Cockerill Company, Seraing. He was also chairman of the Ougrée Coal and Iron Works, near Liége, being re-elected for thirty-eight years. He was also a director of the Alstaden Collieries in Prussia, the Maestricht Paper Mills, and the Herve Railways near Liége.
In 1844 his treatise on ventilating machines was published and in 1852 his treatise on rotary ventilators followed suit. In 1848 and 1872 he produced his works on the draining of mines, and in 1872 and 1878 his works on the use of compressed air and water pressure. It was at his instigation that dressed stone was first used as tubbing for lining the shafts of coal-pits at Alsatden and Seraing. He facilitated improvements, both in the employment of compressed air for sinking pits through watery measures, and in the construction of man engines.
He was part of the editing committee of the “Annnales des Travaux Publics,” and of the “Revue Universalle des Mines,” and contributed important articles to both of these publications. He introduced public baths and wash houses to Liége
At the International Exhibitions of 1862 in London, 1867 in Paris, and 1873 in Vienna, he was juror.
He was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at the Summer Meeting of the Institution in Belgium in 1883. He died on 1 January 1887.
He accomplished much in the scientific field and subsequently received a number of honorary degrees including: the honorary degree of D.C.L from the University of Oxford (1870), the degree of LL.D. from Dublin University (1879) and the same latter honorary degree from Cambridge. He succeeded Earl Cairns as Chancellor of Dublin University in 1885.
In 1890, he received the knighthood of the Order of St. Patrick. In addition to acting as Lord Lieutenant for King’s County, he occupied several Government and municipal positions, and the London County Council appointed him chairman of the committee that dealt with gas-testing. He was very popular in Birr, which was practically founded by his ancestors, and which he developed considerably.
He was Fellow of the Royal Society, and an Honorary Member of the Institution from 1888. At the Dublin meeting held in that year at Birr Castle, he contributed a Paper on a 'Balanced or Automatic Sluice for Weirs.' He maintained the observatory established at Birr Castle by his father, including the famous Rosse reflector and always took a keen interest in astronomical research.
Amongst other matters, he himself carried out a series of investigations of the temperature of the moon at different periods of lunation. These investigations were still in progress when he died on 30 August 1908, and were yielding some interesting results.
Samuel Haughton was born on 21 December 1921 in Carlow, Ireland.
He was ordained deacon in 1846 and priest in 1847. Retaining his fellowship, he set up a class with his colleague, the Rev. Joseph Galbraith, for the preparation of students seeking commissions in the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. In 1862, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine of Dublin University, and was appointed successively registrar, and in 1879 chairman of the medical school. He was also made a governor of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.
He was joint author of the Galbraith and Haughton series of manuals. In 1851, he became professor of geology and held this post till 1881, when he was co-opted to the Board of Senior Fellows. He represented the University of Dublin on the General Medical Council from 1878 to 1896 and effectively advocated the Dublin schools of medicine.
In 1873 he produced a book on Animal Mechanic, in which his early mechanical tastes are shown in combination with his surgical, physiological and mathematical knowledge. He was president of the Royal Irish Academy from1886 to 1891 where he published a work on the tides of the Irish Seas. He was honorary secretary at the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland for several years. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1858, and received the degrees of D.C.L. of Oxford in 1868, LL.D. and M.D of Cambridge in 1880, LL.D of Edinburgh in 1884, and honorary M.D of the University of Bologna in 1888. He was also honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland.
Haughton was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1888, after the Summer Meeting of that year was held in Trinity College, Dublin.
Rev. Samuel Haughton died on 31 October 1897.
Gustave Alexandre Eiffel was born on 15 December 1832 at Dijon, France. He received his elementary education in Dijon and at the Lycée Ste. Barbe, Paris. He went on to study civil engineering courses at the École Centrale des Arts et Métiers which he completed in 1855. In 1857, he became a member of the Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France.
In 1858, he became resident engineer on the construction of the iron bridge over the River Garonne at Bordeaux. He then engaged in various contractual works, including the designing, building, and testing of the structure forming the machinery hall for the Paris International Exhibition of 1867. Up until 1887, when he began construction of the Paris 300-metre tower, Eiffel had built iron and steel bridges amongst other things which had a total weight of over 100,000 tons.
The Eiffel Tower, whose weight is 7,800 metric tons, served its purpose during the Exhibition of 1889, and since that period, particularly during the war, it proved a most invaluable building owing the introduction of wireless telegraph and telephony. Eiffel relinquished his active participation in structural engineering due to old age, but continued a practical interest in the experimental side of aerodynamics, setting up a laboratory for this near the Tower, and later on Auteuil.
Eiffel was president of the French Society of Civil Engineers in 1889, and welcomed the members of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers on their visit to the Eiffel Tower at the Summer Meeting in that year. As a result of that visit, the Council nominated Eiffel an Honorary Member of the Institution. Also at the Summer Meeting in Paris in 1922 he received the members at the Tower, and honoured the Institution by attending the Banquet in June of that year. He achieved a number of distinctions for his work. He was an Officer of the Legion of Honour, Officer de l’instruction Publique and was a Knight and Commander of many foreign orders. He also received the Langley gold medal of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.
He died on 28 December 1923.
The death of the Prince Consort in 1861 delayed his marriage to Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, but they were eventually married at Windsor on 10 March 1863. Between 1864 and 1871 they had seven children; their second son, George, born on 3 June 1865, subsequently became King George V. Alexandra took great pleasure in her children, and did not attend public events frequently, whereas the Prince was very much committed to a vigorous social round. Although they managed these differences successfully, there was much criticism of their different lifestyles, and he was sometimes booed in public. However towards the end of 1871 he almost died of typhoid. When he recovered there was widespread celebration and his popularity was ensured.
He took his seat in the House of Lords in February 1863, and set up his London home at Marlborough House in Pall Mall. He also bought Sandringham House in Norfolk. At this time he did not take on any official duties, and neither did he represent the Queen at public occasions. He did take on a number of public responsibilities, playing a significant part in the planning of the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Music. He was also President of the Society of Arts in 1863 and of the 1851 Commissioners in 1870, and he was the Chairman of the Governors of Wellington College in 1864.
During the 1870s, however, he was increasingly the official representative of the Head of State, and he fulfilled this role with great success, becoming known for his ability to speak fluently from very brief notes. In 1875 he made an official visit to India which was seen as very successful, his easy manner with people at all levels of society being particularly helpful in easing the racial tensions evident in colonial India. Indeed, he was very critical of the way some British political office holders dealt with the Indians, and new instructions on this were subsequently issued by the Secretary of State, Lord Salisbury. On his return from India he was awarded several honorary degrees and the freedom of several cities.
In 1881 he became a trustee of the British Museum. In 1884 he was a member of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes – the first heir to the throne to serve on such a commission – and in 1891 he served on the Royal Commission on the Aged Poor. In 1897 he established the Prince of Wales’s Hospital Fund for London, which in 1902 became King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London. He was elected an Honorary Life Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1890.
As international relations deteriorated during the 1890s he formed the view that Britain was becoming dangerously isolated, and he worked to strengthen links with Portugal and the USA. During the Boer War, while travelling in Denmark, he was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt, and on his return to London he was greeted by huge crowds, reflecting the extent to which his popularity had grown.
When Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901 he ascended to the throne, announcing at once that he should be known as Edward VII. His Coronation, originally arranged for 26 June 1902, was postponed when he was diagnosed with appendicitis and peritonitis. Following a successful operation on 23 June he was crowned on 9 August 1901.
He was enthusiastic about being King, and this rather than duty informed his reign. He set about reorganizing the Royal Palaces and finances, and he revived the practice of the monarch personally opening Parliament. Early in 1902 he proposed an Order of Merit, which would mark distinction in the arts, sciences, literature, and the armed forces, keeping appointment to this Order very much in his own hands. He saw that style was critical to the public perception of the monarchy, and his court set the tone for the ‘Edwardian period’ as it came to be known. At the time it symbolized energy and change, although it subsequently came to be seen as a sort of ‘golden age’ before the First World War.
Much more of the political centre than his mother, he enabled the Monarchy to retain its popularity through a politically difficult period. In 1902 Lord Salisbury was replaced as Prime Minister by A J Balfour. Although he thought that Balfour’s resignation in 1905 was unnecessary, he formed a good relationship with Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who won a striking victory in the General Election of 1906. After Campbell-Bannerman resigned in 1908 his relationship with Herbert Asquith was much more formal. Conflict between the House of Commons and the House of Lords was growing during this period, and it was brought to a head by the Finance Bill of 1909, which the Lords rejected. The King acquiesced to Asquith’s request for him to dissolve Parliament, and the Government won a substantial majority in the subsequent election. The reintroduced Finance Bill was eventually passed into law on 14 April 1910.
The King travelled to Biarritz in March 1910, where he became ill, returning to Buckingham Palace on 27 April. He travelled to Sandringham on the 30 April, and Queen Alexandra returned from a visit to Corfu to be with him on 5 May. He died the following day, 6 May 1910, at the age of 68.
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was born on 26 March 1819 at Cambridge House, Hanover, the son of Prince Adolphus Frederick, First Duke of Cambridge and his wife, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel. He was privately educated. He was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1835 and embarked on a military career.
In 1837, after serving for a short time in the Hanoverian army, he returned to the England and became a Colonel in the British army. From October 1838 to April 1839 he was attached to the staff at Gibraltar, and after serving in Ireland with the 12th Royal Lancers, he was appointed Colonel of the 17th Light Dragoons in April 1842. From then until 1845 he served as a staff colonel in the Ionian Islands, where he received the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George. In 1850 he succeeded his father as Second Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary, and Baron Culloden.
He became inspector of cavalry in 1852, holding that post until the outbreak of the Crimean War, when he received the command of the First Division (Guards and Highland Brigades) of the British Army in the East. In June 1854 he was promoted to Lieutenant-General, and he was present at the battles of Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman, and at the siege of Sevastopol. In July 1956 he was appointed General Commanding-in-Chief of the British Army, and became a member of the Privy Council; his post was re-titled Commander-in-Chief by Letters Patent in 1887. He served as the chief military advisor to the Secretary of State for War, with responsibility for the administration of the army and command of forces in the field. He was promoted to the rank of Field-Marshal in November 1862, and was the longest serving head of the British Army, being Commander-in Chief for 39 years. He had a reputation for being old-fashioned and resistant to change, although he was deeply concerned about the welfare of soldiers and took a keen interest in army reform. He was involved in the creation of the army Staff College, and was Governor of the Military Academy, Woolwich.
Following the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 the Secretary of State for War in W. E. Gladstone’s Liberal Government, Edward Cardwell, called for major army reforms. The Duke of Cambridge firmly but unsuccessfully opposed his proposals. The impetus for reform continued in the War Office Act of 1870, which formally made the Commander-in-Chief of the army subordinate to the Secretary of State for War, and he opposed this and many other subsequent reforms. He resigned on 1 November 1895.
In 1840 he had met the actress, Sarah (Louisa) Fairbrother, daughter of a theatrical promoter, and the couple had two sons before marrying on 8 January 1847, in defiance of the Royal Marriages Act. They subsequently had a third son.
He received many honours and awards, including the Order of the Thistle in 1881, and he was elected Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1892.
He died on 17 March 1904 at Gloucester House, Park Lane, at the age of 84.
For more information, please see the biography of Professor William Cawthorne Unwin on our Past Presidents page
Sir William Chandler Roberts-Austen was born on 3 March 1843 in London. Aged eighteen, he accepted a place at the School of Mines. He initially intended to become a mining engineer but when he obtained the associateship of the school he was employed by Professor Graham, then Master of the Mint.
When Professor Graham died in 1869 Roberts-Austen was appointed assayer and was promoted in 1882 to the position of Queen’s Assay-Master. He was put in charge of all the scientific, as distinguished from the mechanical, operations of coinage and until his death he was responsible for the standard fineness of about one hundred and thirty million gold coins.
In 1880 he succeeded Dr. Percy as Professor of Metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines, while still occupying his post at the Mint. From 1880 onwards, he engaged in a long series of experimental research on the atomic theory of metals, and of the influence of traces of impurities on the whole mass. In 1889 the Alloys Research Committee of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was appointed and Roberts acted as Reporter to it, carrying out many of the tests. This Committee made five Reports and the sixth and final one was in draft form before his death. By means of photography, he introduced his automatic recording pyrometer in order to record temperatures automatically.
Alloys formed the topic of his lecture to the British Association at their Newcastle Meeting in 1889, dealing with the hardening and tempering of steel, by which means he struck up a long association with the French metallurgist, M. Osmond.
He worked on several Government committees. In 1893 he was chairman of the committee appointed to enquire into the laboratory arrangements of the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments. In that same year he served on a committee appointed to consider the best means of utilising for metallurgical purposes the water power available on the completion of the Periyar Water Works in India.
In 1896 he served on a Board of Trade Committee on the loss of strength of steel rails through use on the railways, in connection with which he conducted an elaborate research and produced a report of great industrial importance.
He was also a member of the Explosives committee of the War from its inception. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1887 in recognition of his valuable work on the Alloys Research Committee, and was President of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1899-1900. He was also elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1901. He was one of the founders of the Physical Society of London, serving as secretary for a while and then vice-president. He acted as an honorary secretary of the British Association of for the Advancement of Science. In 1875, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, and served on the Council. He was also a vice-president of the Chemical Society and of the Society of the Arts.
In 1890 he was created a Companion of the Bath, and was promoted to be a Knight Commander in 1899. He was given the title of D.C.L by the University of Durham in 1897, and he was doctor of Science of Victoria University, Manchester. He had served on the Government Commission in connection with the Exhibitions of Paris in 1889, and in Chicago. He was Knight of the Legion of Honour, and in 1893 he was elected a member of the Athenæum Club for distinguished eminence in Science.
He died on 22 December 1902.
George Frederick Ernest Albert was born on 3 June 1865 at Marlborough House, London. He was the second son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
He spent his early life at Sandringham, and from the age of 12 he served in the Royal Navy with his older brother, Albert. In 1883 he was posted as a Sub-Lieutenant to HMS Canada, before attending the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and HMS Excellence at Portsmouth. In 1889 he took command of a torpedo boat, and in 1890 the gunboat HMS Thrush, being promoted to Commander in 1891. His active Naval career ended after a brief command of the Cruiser HMS Melampus, when in 1892 he was created Duke of York by Queen Victoria, taking his seat in the House of Lords the same year. However, he became a captain in the Royal Navy in 1893, then Rear-Admiral and Vice-Admiral in 1901 and 1903 respectively, Admiral in 1907, and finally Admiral of the Fleet in 1910.
After the death of his elder brother, Albert, at the beginning of 1892 he was second in line to the throne, and in July 1893 he married Princess Mary of Teck. The couple lived at York Cottage on the Sandringham estate, and had six children, the first being the future Edward VIII, and the second the future George VI. He was a keen sportsman and also developed a strong interest in stamp collecting, building up a collection of over a quarter of a million stamps.
On the death of Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901 his father ascended the throne as Edward VII, and he became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothsay. He and Mary toured the British Empire, visiting Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, and on his return he was created Prince of Wales. In 1906 he toured India, and, like his father, was shocked by the discrimination meted out by the colonial civil service to the Indian population, and he campaigned for greater involvement of Indians in the running of the country. When Edward VII died on 6 May 1910 he ascended the throne as King George V. He and Queen Mary were crowned at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911. Later that year they travelled to India where they were present at the Delhi Durbar, where they were presented to an audience of Indian Princes and dignitaries as the Emperor and Empress of India, George wearing the newly-created Imperial Crown of India.
He had opened Parliament for the first time in February 1911, in the midst of what was a very turbulent period for the constitutional position of the monarchy. The rejection by the House of Lords of the 1909 Finance Bill had led to moves to limit the power of the Lords to over-turn the will of the House of Commons on financial matters, through the introduction of the Parliament Bill. This was eventually passed into law in 1911, the King having ultimately agreed to back the government of the day, and so the House of Commons. The introduction of the Home Rule Bill for Ireland in 1912 marked further turmoil in Parliament, and this again directly involved the King. These years, between his accession to the throne and the start of the First World War, marked the most challenging constitutional experience of a British monarch since the time of George III.
On the outbreak of war in 1914 there was much concern about the close family ties between the British royal family and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was the King’s first cousin. As a consequence, on 17 July 1917 he issued an Order in Council that changed the name of the British Royal House from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor, and he, and all of his relatives who were British subjects relinquished the use of all German titles and styles, and adopted British-sounding surnames. During and after the First World War the monarchies that had ruled most of Europe fell; many, including Russia, to revolution and war. In 1922 a Royal Navy ship was sent to rescue the King’s cousin, Prince Andrew of Greece and his wife, Princess Alice of Battenberg; their children included Prince Philip, who would later marry Princess Elizabeth.
He took an interest in the turmoil in Ireland, and during the General Strike of 1926 was offended by the suggestion that the strikers were ‘revolutionaries’, saying “Try living on their wages before you judge them”. He was also concerned by the rise of the Nazi Party, warning the British Ambassador in Berlin to be wary of the fascists.
In 1932 he agreed to deliver a Christmas speech on the radio, paving the way for what was to become a major annual fixture in the Royal calendar in subsequent years.
In 1884 he became a Knight of the Garter, and in 1893 a Knight of the Thistle and Royal Fellow of the Royal Society. He received many other honours and awards, and he was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1899.
He was seriously ill from 1928, and his eldest son Edward took over many of his duties. He retired for a brief spell to the house of Sir Arthur du Cross at Bognor, where the myth of his remark,“Bugger Bognor” grew. He celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1935 to great popular acclaim. He died on 20 January 1936 at Sandringham House at the age of 70.
William Thomson was born in Belfast on 26 June 1824. His father, James Thomson, was a teacher in the Royal Academic Institute of Belfast. In 1832, James Thomson was appointed to the Glasgow College chair of mathematics, and the family moved to Glasgow. William and his elder brother James attended their father's junior class as listeners, and in 1834 both matriculated. William was then just ten years old.
In 1841, William became an undergraduate at St Peter's College, Cambridge. During his time as an undergraduate he became keen on rowing. In his second year he joined the college eight, and in 1843 he won the Colquhoun silver sculls for single-seat boats. He was also a keen musician, and became a founder member of the Cambridge University Music Society in 1844. In 1845, he was second wrangler (the second highest scoring student gaining a first-class honours in the third year of the mathematical tripos) and Smith's Prizeman. In the same year he was elected a Fellow of Peterhouse, as well as taking over editorship of the Cambridge Mathematical Journal.
He soon travelled to Paris, where he studied under Victor Regnault, who was then making accurate measurements on the properties of steam and other gases. In 1846, he was offered the University of Glasgow's vacant chair of Natural Philosophy. He accepted this position, and remained in the chair until 1899.
He was involved in many areas of science, including kinetics and the kinetic theory of matter; elasticity and hydrodynamics; electricity; magnetism; waves; telegraphy; and the development of accurate scientific instruments. He was knighted in 1866 in response to his work on the laying of the transatlantic telegraph.
He was involved with a wide range of scientific and learned societies, including the Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Faraday Society. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1901, after serving as President of the Glasgow Engineering Conference of that year, of which the Institution took charge of Section III (Mechanical).
He died on 17 December 1907 at the age of 84.
Aurel Stodola was born in 1859 in the Slovakian town of Lipstovský St.Mikuláš. He studied at the Realschule at Levoča and Košice in Slovakia, and at the Budapest Polytechnic, where he obtained a scholarship. At 21 years and two months he was awarded the Diploma of Mechanical Engineering with Distinction from the Polytechnikum in Zurich. This distinction was an honour reserved for students of exceptional ability.
After obtaining practical training and further study in Berlin and Paris, Stodola accepted a position as engineer in the Prague works of Ruston and Company, a firm which had introduced the Corliss engine into Austria and would ultimately offer him the opportunity to develop his abilities as a designer.
In 1892, aged 33, he accepted the Professorship of the Mechanical Department of the Polytechnikum in Zürich, a post he held until his retirement in 1929. He remained at Zürich until his death, Switzerland having become his second home. Zürich presented him in 1905 with its Honorary citizenship. During his professorship, he received a number of accolades, including the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Zürich and an Honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering from the Technische Hochschule of Hanover and Brünn. In 1908 the Society of German Engineers presented him with the Grashof Denkmünze, its highest distinction. He was also appointed a Corresponding Member of the French Academy of Science.
The position in the engineering world held by the small country of Switzerland at that time, and the eminent positions held by many of his students in other parts of the world, are evidence of Stodola’s teaching success.
Although he had a wide range of engineering interests, his most important contribution was his work on the steam turbine. In this field his earliest work dealt with the stability of governing turbines by means of servo-motors, but it was his first lecture on the theory of the steam turbine, given in 1902 before the Society of German Engineers in Düsseldorf, that marked the beginning of his great work on this subject. In 1903, this lecture was published in an expanded form in the Zeitschrift, and was shortly followed by his first volume published under the title of “The Steam Turbine”.
In subsequent editions his work expanded until in 1922, when his sixth edition was published, it covered some 1,150 pages, and including 1,200 figures. This edition was translated into English and was universally accepted as the key reference work for turbine designers.
Professor Stodola was firmly convinced that the development of this promising prime mover should be based in scientific knowledge, and in formulating a basis for design, he endeavoured to substantiate his mathematical approach by experiment. He demonstrated by tests the false notion that supersonic steam velocities were impossible, or at least impracticable, and did valuable pioneering work in the design of divergent and convergent nozzles. He laid down methods of calculating disk stresses and methods of arriving at shaft critical speeds and the gyroscopic effect on turbine disks. As early as 1914, he developed the theory of disk and blade vibration, ignorance of which had at the time led to many failures.
Stodola was also greatly interested in gas and diesel engines and he envisaged the practical possibility of the gas turbine, his theory of which appeared as an appendix to the second edition of his book on the “Steam Turbine” in 1904. His last work on this subject dealt with the tests on a 4,000 kW commercial gas turbine unit, the results of which were published in England in January 1940.
Stodola was fluent in English and read a great deal of English and American literature. He also had a great interest in music, playing both the piano and organ. He was familiar with the works of the great scientists and philosophers, which was demonstrated in a book published after his retirement. During his professorship Stodola took a keen interest in educational problems, and in his book revealed the ideals upon which his perception of the duty of professorship was based, and dealt with the importance of the character of the engineer.
Stodola was highly revered beyond his native land, symbolized by the James Watt International Medal presented to him by the Institution of Mechanical engineers. He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1902, and an Honorary Member in 1911.
Erasmus Darwin Leavitt was born at Lowell, Massachusetts, United States on 27 October 1836. He was educated at local public school, and aged sixteen began work in the machine shops of the Lowell Manufacturing Co., where he was an apprentice for three years.
He spent a year with Corliss and Nightingale, and was later assistant foreman of the City Point Works in South Boston, where he was in charge of the construction of the engine of the U.S.S. “Hartford.” From 1859-61 he was chief draughtsman for Thurston, Gardner and Co., of Providence, Rhode Island, leaving there to join the United States Navy as assistant engineer.
He served through the Civil War and during that time he was part of the Eastern Gulf Squadron. Afterwards, he was engaged on construction duty at Baltimore, Boston, and Brooklyn. Two years later he was assigned to the Naval Academy at Annapolis as an instructor in steam engineering, specialising in pumping and mining machinery. In 1867 Mr. Leavitt resigned from the naval service and became a consulting engineer. From that time, he began to be well known, and became probably the most prominent mechanical engineer in consulting practice in the United States. He first found fame as an engineer with the installation of the pumping engine at Lynn, Massachusetts, which embraced his ideas about engine economy. This engine marked an era in the economy of pumping engines throughout the world.
In 1874, he was appointed consulting and mechanical engineer to the Calumet and Hecla Mining Co., a position he held until he retired in 1904. During that period, he designed and superintended the building of the enormous equipment that was used at Calumet. Up to 1886 Mr Leavitt’s standard steam pressure was 135 lb per square inch, but in that year he began the design of the triple-expansion steam engines, and adopted 185 lb pressure. He also changed the construction of sand-wheels from wood-which was used in the Lake Superior region- to metal, and he designed wheels of 50 and 60 feet diameter using the principle of the bicycle wheel.
During his time at Calumet and Hecla, Leavitt was frequently engaged by other companies and municipalities, namely working as consulting engineer for Henry R. Worthington of New York, the Dickson Manufacturing Co., the City of Boston and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. As advisory engineer, he designed machinery for the Bethlehem Steel Co. and for South African mining companies. He was an ardent supporter of the locomotive type of boiler and used it almost exclusively, the diameter of the shell measuring about 90 inches.
In 1884 Leavitt received the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. He held a prominent position amongst the most eminent engineers of the world, and was a recognised authority on steam engineering.
He was elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1883, and was later made an Honorary Member of the Institution. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was one of the thirty mechanical engineers who organized The American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1880, and became its president during 1882-3. He was also a member of the American society of Civil engineers and other technical societies.
Richard Price Williams was born on 22 November 1827 in London, a son of Doctor John Morgan Williams, of Bridgend, Glamorgan. He was educated in London. He went on to become a pupil of George Heald, who was Thomas Brassey’s engineer on the construction of the Lancaster, Carlisle, and Caledonian Railways in 1845-6.
Afterwards, he was an apprentice in the locomotive works of Kitson, Thomson and Hewitson of Leeds. From 1854-1860 he designed and prepared plans of girder bridges and carried out other works whist resident engineer on the Great Northern Railway.
Subsequently he acted as Consulting Engineer for the proposed Metropolitan Outer Circle Railway, and in the preparation of plans and estimates for a number of other railways, both in this country and in the Colonies. From 1866 the Royal Commission on Coal supplies appointed him to prepare evidence of their duration, and in 1868 the Royal Commission on Irish Railways appointed him Chief Engineer to examine and value them. He helped the principal railway companies in the UK prepare and advocate their claims against the Government for purchase of the telegraphs in 1871. In 1889 he made reports on the conditions of the railways in New South Wales and Tasmania, and afterwards acted as arbitrator on behalf of the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Co. for the disposal of the railway to the Tasmanian Government. Subsequently he was appointed Consulting Engineer by the Governor.
His early connection with the construction of railways impacted on his decision to make railway engineering his own particular branch from the start of his practice.
His name will always be associated with the introduction and development of the Bessemer process in this country. He encouraged British railway engineers to try out the Bessemer steel rails in place of the iron rails, which were unable to withstand heavy traffic. Sir Henry Bessemer appreciated his service, and appointed him a manager at the first Bessemer steel works established at Greenwich. Besides his engineering activities, Richard Price Williams did a large amount of statistical work on a variety of subjects, and was a Member of Council of the Royal Statistical Society for several years.
He became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1859 and served as a Member of Council from 1880-7. He was later made an Honorary Member of the Institution in recognition of his services in connection with railways. In 1879, he presented a Paper to the Institution on “The Economy of Railway Working,” but most of his Papers on this question were read before the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Statistical society. He became a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1861 and was awarded the Telford, Watt and Stephenson gold medals. The Iron and Steel Institute awarded him the Bessemer gold medal in 1898 on the recommendation of Sir Henry Bessemer.
Sir Alfred Fernandez Yarrow was born in 1842. At an early age he took out a number of patents with a boy named James Hilditch, the most notable of which were connected with improvements in ploughing machinery, which were very successful in manufacture. The two also installed between their homes the first overhead telegraph line in London and had a keen interest in the use of steam on roads. In 1861 T W Cowan built some machines at Greenwich to their design. At this time, Yarrow and Hilditch in conjunction with other young engineers founded a Civil and Mechanical Engineers Society, of which Mr Yarrow was the first vice-president.
When Hilditch left London for the North with his father, Yarrow founded the firm Yarrow and Hedley in partnership with Joseph Hedley. They created a small works for the repair of boats on the Isle of Dogs, Poplar.
At first progress was slow but eventually the firm established a name as builders of steam-launches. During the seven years of partnership with Hedley, 350 boats of various types and sizes were built. Hedley retired from the partnership in 1875.
In 1876 the first specially designed torpedo boat was built for Argentina, and this event, together with the construction of the shallow-draught vessel for the Nyassa Mission, marked the start of the great development in shipbuilding which the firm’s activities subsequently brought about.
Some of the most notable features of that development were: the careful speed trials and towing experiments which Sir Alfred Yarrow was one of the first to carry out; the introduction of the Yarrow-Schlick Tweedy system of balancing for high-speed reciprocating engines; and the development of the Yarrow straight-tube water-tube boiler. The works were moved from Poplar to the Clyde in 1907. Sir Alfred had retired from active control of his business some years before World War I but resumed his participation in its affairs when the War broke out. He was awarded a baronetcy for the invaluable services he gave in the design and production of urgently needed vessels.
He donated large amounts of money to various organizations including, a £100,000 grant to the Royal Society (of which he was made fellow in 1922) for the foundation of research professorships, a sum of £20,000 towards the constructionof the National Tank at Teddington by the National Physical Laboratory, and a sum of £10,000 to the British Association. He was elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1889 and was made an Honorary Member in 1916. He was also a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a Vice-President of the Institution of Naval architects in 1896.
William Douglas Weir was born on 12 May 1877 in Glasgow. He was the eldest child of James and Mary Weir. James Weir and his brother George had launched a marine engineering and maintenance company in 1873, G. and J. Weir becoming a limited company in 1895. William was educated at Allan Glen’s school and Glasgow High School, leaving to enter an apprenticeship in the family firm at the age of 16.
He was made a director of the company in 1898, becoming Managing Director in 1902, and Chairman from 1910. The company thrived under his control. On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he was invited to join the Central Advisory Committee on Munitions by Lloyd George. He was appointed director of munitions in Scotland in July 1915. He urged Lloyd George to create a single Air Board to supersede the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air service, and he became a member of the resulting Air Board in 1916, the same year being appointed controller of aeronautical supplies. He was knighted in 1917. He was Director-General of Aircraft Production and a member of the Air Council from 1917, becoming its president in 1918, the same year that the Air Ministry and the Royal Air Force were established. He became a member of the Privy Council in April 1918, and was created Baron Weir of Eastwood, Renfrewshire. He was elevated to a Viscountcy in 1938.
He continued to be a valued advisor to government, chairing committees on: civil aviation (1919–20); the amalgamation of the armed services (1922–23); and economies in the armed services (1923). He also served on the committees on co-ordination between the armed services and on the desirability of a Ministry of Defence in 1923.
Although a great believer in free enterprise, he recognised the place for state intervention where private capital had failed. The Committee on Electricity Supply which he chaired between 1924 and 1925 recommended the establishment of a government-appointed Central Electricity Board to build a national grid and to standardize frequencies. Similarly he recommended state subsidies to British North Atlantic shipping (1932).
He was an industrial advisor to the British delegation at the Imperial Conference in Ottawa in 1932, and served on a number of government committees. He played a critical role in the re-armament crisis in the 1930s, working closely with Viscount Swinton. In 1939 he became Director-General of Explosives at the Ministry of Supply, and for some months in 1940 he was Chairman of the Tank Board.
He was Chairman of the Anglo-Scottish Sugar Beet Corporation and held a number of directorships, including Lloyds Bank and Imperial Chemical Industries. He received an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University and was a freeman of the City of London. He was elected and Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1918.
He married Alice Blanche, née MacConnachie, in 1904, and they had two sons and a daughter. He died on 2 July 1959 at Eastwood Park, Giffnock, Renfrewshire at the age of 82.
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David was born on 23 June 1894 at White Lodge, Richmond Park, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary. Initially educated at home, he was sent in 1907 to the Naval College at Osborne, and in 1909 to the Royal Naval College on HMS Britannia, Dartmouth.
Richard Tetley Glazebrook was born on 18 September 1854 at West Derby, Liverpool. His father, Nicholas Smith Glazebrook, was a surgeon. He attended Dulwich College, Liverpool College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took the mathematical tripos. After graduation, he studied physics in the Cavendish Laboratory under James Clerk Maxwell.
In 1880, Lord Rayleigh became director of the Cavendish Laboratory, and Glazebrook was appointed a demonstrator. He also held a college lectureship in mathematics and physics, and a university lectureship in mathematics. Rayleigh retired in 1884, and although Glazebrook was Rayleigh’s choice to succeed him, instead Sir J J Thomson was appointed instead. Glazebrook remained at Cambridge, despite his disappointment, and was made assistant director in 1891, and bursar of Trinity College in 1895.
He was offered the position of principal of University College, Liverpool, in 1898. The following year he was offered the role of director of the National Physical Laboratory, which was then being created. It was under the control of the Royal Society, but funded by the Treasury. His first challenge in this position was to find a location for the NPL, as the initial plan for it to be located at Kew had to be dropped due to public opposition. Bushy House, Teddington was offered as a site, and Glazebrook oversaw its conversion. The early years of the NPL was spent struggling to persuade the Treasury to provide sufficient funding to allow a balance between lucrative but routine testing work, and more explorative research.
By the outbreak of the First World War, the NPL had made great strides in a range of activities, electrical work, metrology, optics and metallurgy, and was able to make great contributions to the war effort, despite loosing one quarter of its staff in the first few months of the war. By the end of the war, its activities had grown to the extent that it was no longer feasible for the Royal Society to remain financially responsible for it. After negotiation it was decided that the Royal Society would continue to oversee its scientific programme, but the NPL would sit under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Glazebrook retired in 1919 from his position at the NPL, but he continued to work. He moved back to Cambridge to edit the Dictionary of Applied Physics. Later he moved to London where he was appointed Zarahoff professor of aviation at Imperial College. He retained an interested in the NPL for much of the rest of his life, serving on the general board, and as chairman of the executive committee from 1925 to 1932.
He was also very involved with the Royal Society, and served as vice-president on two occasions (1919 to 1920 and 1924 to 1928). He was also active in other scientific societies, serving as President for bodies such as the Institute of Physics, the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the Institution of Engineering and Technology), the Faraday Society and the Physical Society. He was honoured with the CB in 1910, knighted in 1917, awarded the KCB in 1920 and the KCVO in 1934. He was made an honorary fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1919.
Sir Richard Tetley Glazebrook died in 1935.
Rajendranath Mookerjee was born on 23 June 1854 in a small village called Bhabla, in Barasat, near Kolkata. When he was only six years old, his father died, and he was brought up by his mother. He showed signs of an interest in engineering early on in life, and went on to study engineering at the Presidency College, although he was unable to take the exams due to ill health.
He initially turned down a job working as surveyor for a large waterbody, as he refused to serve under anybody, but was later awarded the contract for laying out the Palta Waterworks by the Chief Engineer to the Corporation of Calcutta. He went on to receive similar contracts at Agra, Allahabad, Benares and other cities.
He then encountered Sir T A Martin, and the two men went into partnership under the name T A Martin & Co. They undertook many public work projects, such as the laying of a 40 inch main from Palta to Kolkata, and building large buildings and mansions such as the Chartered Bank Buildings, Esplanade Mansions and the Mysore Memorial. The company is best known for building a network of light railway lines from agricultural areas into Kolkata.
Later, he worked with G H Fairhurst to found the iron works of the Indian Iron and Steel Company at Burnpur.
IN 1908, Mookerjee was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE). He served as sheriff of Kolkata in 1911. In 1919 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Mookerjee was knighted in 1922 as Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO), and in the same year come over to London as Chairman of the Engineering Committee which recommended the construction of the Howrah Bridge. He received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Kolkata in 1931.
Sir Rajendraneth Mookerjee died on 15 May 1936.
Ambrose Swasey was born on 18 December 1846 in Exeter, New Hampshire. The American mechanical engineer, inventor, manager, astronomer, and entrepreneur is best known as co-founder of the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
He began his training in the machine tool industry in 1864 at the Exeter Machine Tool Works, where in 1869 he met Worcester R. Warner. Shortly afterwards both men moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Swasey was placed in charge of the gearing department of Pratt and Whitney Company. Here he developed a new technique for making gear-tooth cutters.
He and Warner formed their eponymous company in 1880, and specialized in the manufacture of machine tools and the structural parts for astronomical telescopes. The firm introduced several new methods for securing precision and accuracy in their products, which included the parts for many of the largest telescopes in the world. In 1885 they completed work at McCormick Observatory on the 45-foot dome, which was then the largest in the world, with a unique three-shutter design. In 1887 they built the mount for the 36-inch refracting telescope at Lick Observatory. In 1898 they manufactured a dividing engine for the US Naval Observatory that was used to make the meridian circles.
He was an Honorary Member and, in 1904/5, President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and in 1936 they awarded him the Hoover Gold Medal for his distinguished public service. He was elected to the Machine Tool Hall of Fame of the American Precision Museum in 1982.
He joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1898, and in 1921 he was elected an Honorary Member.
In 1914 he established the Engineering Foundation to further research into engineering science, and he remained a major contributor to its funds throughout the rest of his life.
Both he and Warner were keen amateur astronomers, and in 1920 they made a joint donation to the Case Western Reserve University to fund the construction of an observatory, which is still known as the Warner and Swasey observatory. The chair of ‘Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics’ was named for his endowment.
The moon crater Swasey is named after him, as is the asteroid 992 Swasey.
He died at the age of 90 at his summer home in Exeter, New Hampshire, on 15 June 1937.
Senator Guglielmo Marconi was born at Palazzo Marescalchi, Bologna, Italy, on 25 April 1874. He was the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, a landowner, and Annie Jamieson, granddaughter of the founder of the Jamieson Whiskey distillery. He was educated in the laboratory of Augusto Righi, and at the Istituto Cavallero in Florence, and, later, in Livorno.
He began his experiments when only 20 years old, building much of his own equipment at his home, the Villa Griffone in Pontecchio. He started by improving the coherer of Branly and Lodge, but his goal was to use radio waves to create a practical system of ‘wireless telegraphy’. Although not a new idea, previous attempts had not proved commercially viable. Marconi’s skill lay in taking existing technologies and adapting them to his own system.
Finding little interest in his ideas in Italy, he moved to London, where he gained the support of Wiliam Preece, Chief Electrical Engineer of the Post Office. In 1896 he conducted successful tests between St Martin’s-le-Grand and the Thames Embankment, and he was granted the world’s first ‘wireless telegraphy’ patent. During the following years he transmitted signals over increasing distances, and in 1901, after many attempts he succeeded in sending a signal across the Atlantic, from Poldhu in Cornwall, to St John’s, Newfoundland. In January 1903 American President Theodore Roosevelt was able to send a greeting to King Edward VII in London. A regular transatlantic radio service was eventually established between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada and Clifden, Ireland.
He was appointed a lieutenant in the Italian army in 1915, but later was transferred to the Navy with the rank of Commander. He was appointed a Plenipotentiary Delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, in which capacity he signed the peace treaties with Austria and Bulgaria. In 1919 he was awarded the Italian Military Medal.
After the First World War his most important work was the development of short-wave transmission, and in 1931 he began to investigate the transmission of very short waves – microwaves. He was able to demonstrate that such waves were not affected by the curvature of the earth, and this led to the opening, in 1932, of the world’s first microwave radio telecommunications link, between the Vatican City and the Papal summer palace at Castel Gandolfo.
In 1909 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics, and he has been awarded many honorary doctorates, including those from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. His honours and awards include the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts and the Kelvin Medal. He was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1922.
In 1905 he married Beatrice, daughter of Edward Donough O’Brien, 14th Baron Inchiquin, and they had three daughters and a son. They divorced in 1924, and in June 1927 he married Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali, and they had one daughter. In 1929 he received the honorary title ‘Marchese’.
He died in Rome at the age of 63 on 20 July 1937.
Frederick Rollins Low was an important figure in engineering journalism. He edited the journal Power from 1888 to 1930, after which he was made editor emeritus.
He was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1860 and became a telegraph clerk in a Western Union office at the age of 14. In 1880 he joined the staff of the Boston Journal of Commerce as secretary to the editor and took a keen interest in the department of the journal devoted to the technical problems of textile mill power plants. Six years later he became engineering editor of the journal. Around this time, he brought out several inventions in connection with power plant.
His long connection with Power started with his appointment as the fifth editor. During his leadership he succeeded in extending the scope of the journal, whilst maintaining a practical point of view within the articles that appeared in it. Low was the editor of four technical books dealing with power plant, which were published between 1898 and 1906.
In 1918 he was elected vice–president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, becoming president in 1924. He attended the 1924 World Power Conference in London as a delegate of that Society. In recognition of his services in this area the Institution of Mechanical Engineers elected him Honorary Member in 1924. He was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was chairman of two committees of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, dealing respectively with the codification of safety rules for the construction of steam boilers and unfired pressure vessels, and with the rules for testing boilers, turbines, engines, and other power equipment. He continued as chairman of these committees until his death
He died in Passaic, New Jersey on the 22 January 1936.
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Sir Joseph John Thomson was born at Cheetham, Manchester, in 1856. At the age of 14 it was decided that he should begin an apprenticeship at the Sharp, Stewart and Company's locomotive works in Glasgow. As the company had a long waiting list for apprenticeships, Thomson was sent to Owens College, Manchester, in the meantime. It was here that his interested in physics was first sparked.
He remained at the college for five years, and during this time he decided to work for a scholarship which would allow him to go to Cambridge. In 1876 he was successful, and in this year he began the connection with Trinity College, Cambridge which lasted the whole of the rest of his life. He graduated second wrangler (the second highest scoring student gaining a first-class honours in the third year of the mathematical tripos) in 1880.
He immediately began work on a dissertation for the fellowship examination on the subject of the nature of energy. He was successful in the fellowship examination, and in 1882 he was appointed to an assistant lectureship in mathematics. At around the same time he began a mathematical investigation on moving charges of electricity.
He was elected to a University Lectureship in 1883. He was chiefly concerned with electrostatics and electromagnetism, as well as dynamics and statics. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1884, and soon afterwards was elected as Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics, in succession to Lord Rayleigh. It was at this point that he was able to begin his long series of investigation into the passage of electricity through gases, for which he is particularly known.
In 1897 he put forward the electronic theory of the constitution of matter which revolutionized existing concepts and opened a vast field of research for which he was peculiarly suited. This theory had a important impact on many different fields of science, including those of optics, thermionics, radioactivity, magnetism and spectroscopy. He wrote six books between 1893 and 1913, which were chiefly concerned with electrical discharges through gas. He also wrote a book of reminiscences called 'Recollections and Reflections' which was published in 1937, a few years before his death.
He was appointed professor of physics at the Royal Institution in 1905, and in the same year was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. He was President of the British Association in 1909, having been a supporter for many years. He was President of the Royal Society between 1915 and 1920.
During the First World War, Thomson served on the Board of Invention and Research instituted by the Admiralty to devise means of detecting submarines and other investigations into aeronautics, marine engineering, anti-aircraft defences and other matters. He was involved with the formation of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and served on its Advisory Committee from its creation in 1915 until 1927.
Thomson was honoured for his work during his lifetime. He was knighted in 1908 and received the Order of Merit in 1912. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1932. He was also an Honorary Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
In 1918 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge by the Crown. In order to take up this position he resigned his Cavendish professorship and his professorship at the Royal Institution but in each case he retained the rank of honorary professor. He remained Master of Trinity College until his death on 30 August 1940. In recognition of the value of his work to the nation he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Sir James Alfred Ewing was born in 1855 in Dundee, Scotland. He was awarded the first engineering scholarship to the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under Professor H C Fleeming Jenkin, MIMechE. After graduating he assisted Professor Jenkin and Sir William Thomson, MIMechE. (Lord Kelvin), in their work on submarine telegraphy, and took part in the laying of cables to Brazil and Montevideo.
In 1878, he was appointed professor of mechanical engineering in Tokyo Imperial University. While holding this position he studied seismological phenomena and carried out research in an observatory fitted with instruments he had designed himself, for absolute measurement of earthquakes.
He also began his studies on the molecular theory of magnetism and on hysteresis. He returned in 1883 to become professor of engineering at University College, Dundee, and seven years later became professor of mechanism and applied mathematics at Cambridge. Here he reorganized the general principles of the educational work and was largely instrumental in establishing the engineering tripos. At this time he occupied himself with researches testing the magnetic qualities of iron. He developed several important types of apparatus for measuring permeability and hysteresis.
In 1903 the Admiralty sought his advice on their new scheme of naval education and he was later appointed Director of Naval Education under the scheme. He also became a member of the Explosives committee and of the Ordnance Research Board.
In 1914, after the breakout of WW1, he was instrumental in establishing and developing the office known as “Room 40” at the Admiralty, which was engaged in decoding enemy ciphers. In 1916, he was appointed Principal and Vice- Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, but his work on the admiralty prevented him from taking up his new duties for another year.
After the war, he became increasing occupied with problems of reconstruction at the University of Edinburgh. During his vice-chancellorship thirteen new chairs were established, the training was reorganized, and several new buildings were constructed. In 1923 he became chairman of the Bridge Stress Committee appointed by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. He retired in 1929 and lived at Cambridge, where he turned his attention to the work of the Low Temperature Research Station. He also supervised researches carried out at the National Physical Laboratory on refrigerants, a subject on which he had done valuable work when he was younger, and he was a member of the Committee on the Mechanical Testing of Timber, appointed in 1929. In 1931, he was member of Section G of the British Association and in the following year he delivered his famous presidential address to the same body.
Sir Alfred Ewing’s connection with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers dates back to 1891, when he was elected a Member. He delivered a lecture on “Structure of Metals” to the Graduates’ Section in 1901. In 1914, he presented the Report of the Refrigeration Research Committee, in his capacity as chairman, including an appendix which he had written. From 1915-18 he served on the Council, and in 1932 he was made an Honorary Member. He was made a Freeman of the City of Edinburgh in 1929, and in 1933 he was presented with the Freedom of his native city of Dundee.
He received many honours including Companion of the Bath in 1907 and Knight Commander in 1911. He had been a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1887, receiving the Royal Medal eight years later for his research work on magnetism, and he was President of the Royal society of Edinburgh from 1924-29. In addition he was an Honorary Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He was the author of many papers, especially on magnetism, and of well-known textbooks on the steam engine, thermodynamics, refrigeration, and the strength of materials. He died before he had completed revising his book “Thermodynamics for Engineers,” but the task was finished by A.C.G Egerton, F.R.S.
He died on 7 January 1935.
For more information, please see the biography of Sir Richard W Allen on our Past Presidents page.
He went on to study at the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, and on his return to Parkhead in 1880 became partner in the firm. Six years later, he assumed full control of the company, introduced steel manufacture and initiated the production of heavy armour plate by the Harvey cementation and chilling process. A few years later he developed a successful process of his own for armour plate manufacture, and its value was immediately recognised as valuable by the Admiralty. The firm secured numerous British and American contracts for this product. In 1898 the title of the company was changed to William Beardmore and Company. Lord Invernairn (William Beardmore) became chairman and managing director, holding this post until 1929 when he retired.
In 1905, gun manufacture was introduced at the Parkhead Works and naval guns ranging from 12 pounders to 15 inch guns were made. In 1900, the firm entered the shipbuilding industry by acquiring the shipyard of Robert Napier and Sons, Ltd., at Govan. In 1902 they built their first cruiser, the Berwick, as well as several smaller vessels. But in 1904, the firm bought a 70-acre site at Dalmuir where a complete shipyard, with fitting out basin and engineering works, was laid out, and the shipyard business was transferred from Govan in 1904-5.
At Dalmuir, a long line of notable battleships were constructed, starting with the Agamemnon, which launched in June 1906. Subsequent ships included the Conqueror in 1911, the Benbow in 1913 and the Ramillies in 1916. During the First World War large numbers of destroyers, submarines, and various other naval craft were built. Extensions were also carried out for the construction of oil carriers and general cargo vessels, notably the East Yard at Dalmuir.
During the war, no less than 650 fighting aeroplanes and 73 warships, including the first aeroplane carrier, were built by the firm. Twenty warships were overhauled and refitted. From 1919 onwards, several notable British merchant ships were built, as well as famous Italian liners of the Conte class. Lord Invernairn was also a pioneer in the application of internal combustion engines. He fitted the gun boat Rattler with experimental gas engines in 1907. Later, devoting his attention to the diesel engine, he developed the Beardmore semi-diesel type which his firm supplied to a large number of vessels. Subsequently he manufactured the Franco-Tosi type of engine, under licence. Extensive airship works at Inchinnan were established where, amongst others, Lord Invernairn constructed the airship R34, which was famous as the first airship to make the double Atlantic crossing. He established several other works including, the Mossend steel works, the Speedwell engine works at Coatbridge, and works at Paisley, Anniesland, and Dumfries. In recognition of his national services he was created a baronet in 1914. He was raised to the peerage, and took the title of Lord Invernairn of Strathnairn.
His association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers extended over forty-nine years. He was elected a member in 1887 and was made an Honorary Life Member in 1934. He contributed two papers to the Proceedings, ‘The Heat Treatment of Large Forgings’ and ‘Sugar Machinery’. He was also president of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1918, and was a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects.
He died on 10 April 1936.
Professor Sir Thomas Hudson Beare is well-known for his great work for engineering education in general and in particular for his remarkable achievements in the organization of the Edinburgh University Engineering Building. He was born in 1859, in Adelaide, South Australia, and in 1875 he joined the Public Works Department. After completing a University course at Melbourne, where he graduated in 1879, he obtained a scholarship which enabled him to come to England.
He became a student at University College, London, under Professor Kennedy. During the next three years, he was awarded a Gilchrist Engineering Scholarship, and subsequently gained his B.Sc. degree. Shortly afterwards he became an assistant to Professor Kennedy in his private consulting practice, but in addition he was a demonstrator in the engineering laboratory at University College. In 1887, however, he was appointed the first professor of Applied Mechanics and Engineering at Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, and immediately began equipping the first engineering laboratory in Scotland. Two years later he succeeded Professor Kennedy at University College, and again he was instrumental in obtaining new equipment and carrying out many improvements at the Engineering School of that college. He returned to Edinburgh in 1901 when he was appointed Regius Professor of Engineering. He took a leading part in the layout of the Sanderson Engineering Laboratory at West Mains. In 1906, he initiated the establishment of teaching and research programmes. In 1914, he became Dean of the Faculty of Science and was a member of the governing body of the Edinburgh University for 28 years. He was knighted in 1926, in recognition of his valuable educational work. In 1936, he was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by Edinburgh University, as a tribute to his work there.
Sir Thomas, who was elected a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1893, provided many valuable services to its activities in engineering research and education. He was a Member of the Marine Engine Trials Committee and the Steam Jacket Research Committee, contributing many papers to the latter. In 1936, his biographical paper on James Watt was published in the Proceedings. In addition, he presided over the Joint Committee with the Scottish Education Department on National Certificates. Sir Thomas was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution in 1934. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
He also had a keen interest in military affairs. He served with the Adelaide Rifle Corps in his school days, and many years later became captain in the Fourth Volunteer Division of the Royal Engineers. He was an original member of the committee which started the Edinburgh and East of Scotland Territorial Force Association, which later became the Territorial and Air Force Association, and in 1936 he acted as its chairman.
In addition he was one of the representatives for Scotland on the War Office commission which moved the formation of the Officers’ Training Corps. He was also chairman of the Edinburgh University Military Education Committee. He had a great interest in the work of the Miners’ Welfare Commission, of which he was an original member. He was an active member of the British Association for nearly forty years. From 1894 to 1900 he was Recorder for Section G, and in 1922 he was President of that section.
He died on 10 June 1940.
William Henry Bragg was born in 1862 near Wigton in Cumbria. He was educated at King William's College on the Isle of Man, and gained a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1884, he graduated Third Wrangler, the third highest scoring student gaining a first-class honours in the third years of the mathematical tripos.
Soon after graduating, he was appointed Professor of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Adelaide. After a few years in Australia, he became acquainted with Sir Charles Todd, Postmaster-General and Astronomer Royal for South Australia. Todd had erected a transcontinental telegraph, and had been experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Bragg began experimenting with X-rays at this time. Early in the twentieth century, he turned his attention to radioactivity, presenting his first paper on the subject in 1906.
He was appointed to the Cavendish Chair at the University of Leeds in 1909. Here he carried out further experimentation on ionization in relation to X-rays. As a result, he devised the first spectrometer for X-rays. His son, then Sir W L Bragg, joined him in his research. They were soon able to announce the principles of X-ray spectroscopy, and were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 1915.
In the same year, Bragg was appointed Quain Professor of Physics at University College, London, but he was prevented from taking it up by the outbreak of the First World War. During this time, Bragg worked for the Admiralty at Ardour and Harwich, working on anti-submarine devices and technology for the detection of submarines. In 1918 he returned to London as consultant to the Admiralty. He was awarded the CBE in 1917 and created KBE in 1920 in recognition of his war work.
Following the end of the war, Bragg took up his position at UCL. In 1923, he was appointed Director of the Royal Institution, Fulllerian Professor of Chemistry, Royal Institution and Director of the Davy-Faraday Laboratory. He presented the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Thomas Hawksley Lecture in 1927, on 'The application of X-rays to the study of the crystalline structure of materials.', and in his presentation of papers at the Royal Institution and elsewhere, he was famed for his ability to convey complex scientific phenomenon to a wide range of audiences, including the layman. In 1931 he was awarded the OM. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1934.
Bragg was elected President of the Royal Society in 1935, holding the position until 1940. He was made a member of the Advisory Council for Scientific Research in 1937, and continued to work as Director of the Royal Institution until his death on 12 March 1942.
Ernest Rutherford was born near Nelson, New Zealand, in 1871. After winning a scholarship to attend a private secondary school, Nelson Collegiate School, he won another scholarship which allowed him to study at Canterbury College, Christchurch. After completing his three-year course, a further scholarship allowed him to remain at Canterbury for a further two years postgraduate study, the final year of which saw him carrying out independent research. In 1894 he was awarded a scholarship by the Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition to come to England, where he studied at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, under Professor Joseph John Thomson.
His early work was the investigation of the effect of oscillating currents upon a highly magnetized needle, which he used to design a detector of electric waves. Around 1897 he began work on radioactivity, stimulated by Thomson's experiments on electrical discharges through gases. He extended this work to include the ionization of gases produced by X-rays, and the radioactive effects produced by the rays discovered by Becquerel.
In 1898 Rutherford was appointed Macdonald Professor of Physics at McGill University, Montreal, which at the time had one of the best laboratories in the world. His work here led to the concept of half-life and radioactive decay. In collaboration with Frederick Soddy he developed the transformation theory as an explanation for radioactivity. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908 for his work at McGill.
He returned to England in 1907 to take up the Langworthy Chair of Physics at the University of Manchester, and it was here he carried out important experimental work into atomic work. In collaboration with Hans Geiger he developed an electrical counter for ionized particles. Once perfect by Geiger, the Geiger Counter became the standard means of measuring radioactivity. In 1911, after surprising experimental results, Rutherford conceived that the atom must consist mostly of empty space with its mass densely concentrated in a tiny nucleus, completely changing the accepted understanding of atomic and nuclear physics.
During the First World War Rutherford was involved in antisubmarine research. He also served as a member of the Admiralty’s Board of Invention and Research. When he was able to find the time he returned to his research in the collision of alpha particles with gas. In 1919 he realized that he had artificially stimulated a nuclear reaction in a stable element and this important discovery dominated his research for the rest of his career. In the same year he was appointed director of the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he succeeded Thomson.
Rutherford was knighted in 1914 and awarded the Order of Merit in 1925. He was created Baron Rutherford of Nelson, of Cambridge, in 1931. He served as President of the Royal Society from 1925 to 1930, and in 1927 was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. He delivered the 19th Thomas Hawksley Lecture of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1932, on ‘Atomic projectiles and their applications’. He was made an Honorary Member in 1934.
Lord Rutherford died in 1937 and in recognition of the value of his work to the nation he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
For more information, please see the biography of Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Kitson Clark on our Past Presidents page.
Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton was born in 1845 at Sion Hill, near Thirsk. When he was 11 he went with his father to Gibraltar, and soon afterwards became midshipman in HMS Dragon. He was in the firing line in the Crimea, and was present at the fall of Sebastopol. He was later awarded the Crimean Medal and the Sebastopol Clasp.
When he returned to England, he completed his education at Harrow, then underwent a short apprenticeship at the Doncaster works of the Great Northern Railway. In 1864 he was gazetted as an ensign in the Rifle Brigade, and was posted to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in India. He soon began experimenting with steam traction on roads, and in 1870 he inaugurated the Government Steam Train under the director-general of the Post Office.
He returned to England in 1875, and the following year went into partnership with T H P Dennis and Company, of Colchester. He also acted as a consulting engineer, and designed steam-driven tramcars with P W Willans. In 1877, Crompton became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
He first became involved with electrical engineering in 1879, when he founded his firm in Chelmsford. For the next thirty years he carried out pioneering work in this area, and was responsible for important developments in electric lighting plant and dynamo design. He introduced lighting by incandescent electric lamps, which were first installed in the Royal Courts of Justice.
During the 1890s Crompton worked with J C Howell on a new type of electric battery. He went to India in 1896 to advise the Indian Government on the preparation of an Electric Lighting Act. He took a leading part in the formation of a Corps of Electrical Engineers for the Army, and commanded the unit during the South Africa War. He was made a Companion of the Bath for this work. Early in the Twentieth century he was asked to reorganize the Mechanical Transport Corps.
He continued to take an interest in motor traction, and was a founder member of the Royal Automobile Club, and served as first President of the Institution of Automobile Engineers. His investigation into the condition of road surfaces led to the formation of the Road Board, of which he was the first engineer.
During the First World War Crompton was a member of a committee appointed in 1915 by Winston Churchill, to devise mechanically propelled vehicles for crossing trenches. The result of this committee was the tank. Crompton, together with L A Legros, played an important part in the development of the tank. He also served on a Ministry of Munitions committee set up to advise on the interchangeability of screw gauges for shells, fuses and other materials. Standardization had long been an interest of his. He also worked to improve standard screw threads, and with Mr Clements, designed a new screw thread, the British Standard Fine.
Crompton was twice President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and served on the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was also President of the Junior Institution of Engineers. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1933, and in 1935 was made an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He died on 15 February 1940.
He married Princess Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline, daughter of Queen Victoria’s fourth son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. They had a daughter and two sons, one of whom died at only six months, the other in a motoring accident in 1928.
In 1904 he joined the Horse Guards, transferring, at the request of the King George V, to the 2nd Life Guards in 1911 with the rank of Major. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath at the Coronation that year. He was nominated Governor-General of Canada in 1914, but did not take up the Appointment due to the outbreak of the First World War. He was attached to the British military mission to Belgium, and was promoted to General Staff Officer Grade 1, with the rank of Brigadier-General in 1915. He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1917, and that same year, in accordance with policy, he renounced his German titles and the family name of Teck, taking the family name of Cambridge and the title Earl of Athlone.
He was appointed chairman of a committee to investigate the needs of medical practitioners in 1921. The Athlone Committee produced a report which recommended the establishment of a medical school to promote postgraduate instruction and medical research. The resulting school, subsequently attached to Hammersmith Hospital, became one of the most famous institutions of its kind in the world.
In 1923 he was appointed Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, and High Commissioner, arriving in South Africa in time to open Parliament in January 1924. This was a difficult time in South Africa, and antagonism between the British and the Afrikaners was inflamed by a Nationalist proposal to adopt a new flag for the Union which omitted anything symbolic of the British connection. He worked quietly to soothe and reconcile animosities, and his patience, courtesy, and tact won the respect of all parties.
He returned to England in 1931 and was appointed Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle, becoming a member of the Privy Council. In 1940 he was appointed Governor-General of Canada, where he served a successful five-year term, travelling extensively to attend troop reviews and munitions factories. He returned to Britain in 1936, where he continued to take an active interest in national affairs, and especially in the Dominions and foreign and Colonial affairs.
He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1936.
He died on 16 January 1957 at Kensington Palace at the age of 82.
David Alexander Edward Lindsay, Twenty-seventh Earl of Crawford and Tenth Earl of Balcarres was born on 10 October 1871 at Dunecht House, Aberdeen. He was the eldest of six sons of James Ludovic Lindsay, Twenty-sixth Earl of Crawford and Ninth Earl of Balcarres and his wife Emily. He was educated at Eton and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he gained a Third in history and was secretary, treasurer, and President of the Oxford Union. Afterwards he worked at the Oxford House university settlement in Bethnal Green, under the auspices of the Charity Organization Society.
An old Fife family, the Lindsays' home had been at Haigh Hall, Wigan, since the 1790s, and in June 1985 he was elected unopposed as the Conservative MP for the Chorley division of Lancashire, where Haigh Hall was situated. He held the seat until 1913 when he succeeded to the peerage. Heir to the chairmanship of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company, he also inherited valuable collections built up by his father and grandfather – the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, the last great private library in the UK.
In Parliament he took an early interest in the arts. His interventions led to the creation of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899, and in 1900 he introduced the Ancient Monuments Protection Act. In 1903 he became a party whip, being promoted to chief whip in July 1911, handling skilfully the bitter divisions over the Parliament Bill and the succession of Andrew Bonar-Law. An ardent diarist, his habit of writing detailed notes within minutes of political conversations make his diaries, published in 1984, an unrivalled source of historical information about both these events and Tory politics generally in the period before the First World War.
In 1913 he succeeded as Twenty-seventh Earl of Crawford and Tenth Earl of Balcarres. In 1915 he enlisted as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, giving a false age, but only months later, in 1916, he was summoned to become President of the Board of Agriculture, later Lord Privy Seal with responsibility for the Wheat Commission. Between 1919 and 1921, as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he brought bread supplies back to normal. He was appointed th