Department of Naval Architecture

Scope and Content

Student records 1906-1924.

Administrative / Biographical History

Engineering had been taught at the University of Glasgow in an informal way long before there was a Chair or department of Engineering. The mathematician George Sinclair , between periods as Regent had worked as an engineer and surveyor. Most notably, James Watt , inventor and instrument maker, had a shop at the University, where students and professors with an interest in science met.

Queen Victoria established the Regius Chair of Civil Engineering and Mechanics in 1840  , the first professor being Lewis D. B. Gordon ( 1840-1855  ). It was the first engineering Chair in Britain, and many distinguished engineers have held the post, most notably Professor W J M Rankine ( 1855-1872  ), James Thomson ( 1873-1889  ) elder brother of Lord Kelvin , Archibald Barr ( 1889-1913  ), and John D Cormack ( 1913-1935  ). A full list of the University's professors from 1451  to 2001  can be found at  .

The subject of engineering was at first included as part of the Arts Faculty, but was not recognised as a subject qualifying for graduation in Arts. In 1862  the award of a Certificate of Proficiency in Engineering Science was instituted, with the first certificate being awarded in May 1863  . In 1872  the B.Sc. degree in Engineering was established, thanks in large part to the work of Professor Rankine.

A course of lectures in shipbuilding and marine engineering was introduced with the co-operation of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1881  as an experiment for a limited period, with I.G. Lawrie , as lecturer. In 1883  the John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture, the first in the world, was founded, with Francis Elgar ( 1883-1886  ) being appointed. This was result of the friendship between Professor Rankine and the Clyde shipbuilder, John Elder . Ten years after the death of John Elder in 1873, his widow Isabella Elder endowed the Chair as a memorial to her husband.

During the 1890  s the curriculum was modified to provide for the special interests of Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineers and Naval Architects. In 1901  the James Watt Laboratories were opened, opposite Pearce Lodge and facing Kelvingrove Park.

In 1923  , the new Faculty of Engineering was formed, with a new curriculum, which made the degree an Honours Degree. The Faculty would grow to have five major independent departments: Civil, Electronics and Electrical, Mechanical, Aerospace, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.

In 1970  the Rankine building was opened in Oakfield Avenue to house the Departments of Civil Engineering and Electrical Engineering. This left the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering and Naval Architecture in the James Watt building. In 1974  , the Department's name was expanded to Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering as a result of the increasing interest in the teaching and research of offshore engineering by Professor Douglas Faulkner ( 1973-1995  ). The Department has relationships with a variety of institutions, including the Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute and the Shipbuilding Research Institute of Japan . In 2001  the Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering merged with the Department of Ship and Marine Technology at the University of Strathclyde , to form the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

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University of Glasgow

Subfonds level description compiled by Natalie Milne, archives assistant, January 2002  and John O'Brien, archives assistant, October 2002  .