Papers of Dr Ernest A. Watson OBE

Scope and Content

The papers represent Watson's own selection of his papers which he considered likely to be of historical interest and are supplemented by explanatory notes written by Watson. The bulk of Watson's professional work is in the reports written for Joseph Lucas Industries; the Memoirs written in 1971 give an interesting and lucid account of Watson's scientific and engineering career. The memoirs relate to many episodes of interest in the early history of engineering enterprises in Britain and America. Other papers include notebooks, typescripts and manuscripts relating to electrical engineering.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Ernest A. Watson, 1887-1975, educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham and University of Birmingham, where he obtained an honours degree in mechanical and electrical engineering in 1907, followed by an Master of Science degree at Liverpool University in 1909. In the same year he visited Canada and the United States of America, and joined the firm of Morris and Lister Company in Coventry (the firm was acquired by Joseph Lucas Ltd in 1930). In 1918 Watson was awarded the Order of British Empire for his work on magneto design during the First World War. In 1924 he made a second visit to Canada and the United States. In 1930 Watson became Chief Engineer at Joseph Lucas Ltd, and later Director. He worked on the Whittle Jet engine. In 1944 he was awarded an honorary D.Sc by University of Birmingham.

Reference: Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel, Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre Papers of Dr Ernest A. Watson, OBE ( The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, 1976 ).


The collection is divided roughly in the following sections: memoirs; personal notebooks and papers; papers relating to the Lucas firm.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited by Dr Watson in 1974.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the archives of the University of Birmingham and archives of other former staff, officials and students.