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The Scot in England
Chapter VIII - New Power for England


The England of beauty, comfort, and industrial wonders that we know to-day was really born in the last half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, and the miracle of the country's rise to power and affluence was brought about by inventive and practical Scotsmen. One hesitates to make such a sweeping statement, but justification for it is plainly written in the pages of history.

We have seen how England was opened up and made into a green and pleasant land by the great triumvirate of Scottish builders—Telford, Rennie, and Macadam. We have seen how the various countries were linked up, socially and industrially, by networks of roads, bridges, and canals. We have seen how London was transformed by Scottish builders and planners.

So far we have only looked at one phase of this truly amazing picture of England's development. The release of Scotland's long-repressed practical genius had let loose a flood of inventive brains into England, with results that brought about a miraculous transformation in that country.

It is time that we followed young James Watt to London, to see what he is doing there, for this Glasgow lad started the most beneficent revolution that the world has ever seen. He had no political theory to offer the English, nor did he evolve any reign of terror, but from his constructive and inquiring brain came ideas that did more for humanity in a few short years than all the political dynamiters of history. It will be worth while to trace this young Scot back to Glasgow.

James Watt was born in Greenock in the year 1736. His father was a shipwright, a substantial man in a small way of doing, as they say in Scotland. James was a weakly lad, but clever. He displayed a talent for making delicate instruments with his hands, and soon after he left school proceeded to Glasgow to learn the art of making mathematical instruments. Instead, he was put to the repairing of fiddles and spectacles and fishing-rods by a silly old Scot who should have been shot for trying to suppress genius. One is constantly amazed by the stupidity of mature Scotsmen towards genius. Not one in a thousand ever recognizes it; not one in ten thousand has the decency to encourage it if he does recognize it. Genius, like a game fish, has always to fight its way upstream.

James Watt was not the lad to be satisfied with mending fiddles and spectacles. He left the Glasgow shop—one hopes that he banged the door!—and headed for London, with twenty pounds in his pocket to pay for a year's tuition in a mathematical instrument maker's shop. This time he made no mistake. He learned something about the fine art of making mathematical instruments, and, his period of apprenticeship over, he did something that made him unique—he went back to Scotland!

He met irritating difficulties in Glasgow. When he proceeded to earn his living with his precious tools, the Guild of Hammermen—not to be confused with that other restraining cult known as Chinese Hatchetmen!—bore down on him with dire threats. Hoots! The man hadna sairved his seeven years in Glesca! Oot wi' him!

Things looked bad for the young instrument maker, but in 1758, fortunately, there happened to be a young professor at Glasgow University named Adam Smith, who was destined to start a revolution in England himself before the end of the century. Smith thought that Watt ought to be given a chance. So did Joseph Black, another University pillar, and between them they got James Watt appointed as instrument maker to the University, where he was beyond the jurisdiction of the pawky Hammermen.

Five years roll on. Watt has invented a micrometer, has made a pipe-organ, has studied chemistry with Dr. Robinson, the lecturer in that subject at the University, and has experimented with steam. A great idea has crept into his brain—the invention of a steam-engine that would work smoothly, powerfully, and without waste.

James Watt did not, as many people believe, invent the first steam-engine. Crude engines existed before he was born, but they were practically useless for sustained and powerful work, because their inventors did not understand the nature of steam, and had been baffled by the problem of condensation and wastage. Watt tackled the ancient conundrum from the right angle—he studied the properties of steam.

It all came to him in a revealing flash one day, when he was out walking. Back to the University he hurried, and up to Robinson's laboratory.

"I've got it!" he exclaimed. "Dinna fash yersel' aboot it ony mair, man. I'll gi'e ye steam, boiling hot, in a boiling hot cylinder, and no' waste a particle." He explained it all to the lecturer in chemistry. He would keep the cylinder constantly hot by condensing the steam in a separate cylinder and by putting a steam jacket around the cylinder. Robinson nodded. The old problem was solved. The modern steam-engine had been evolved in Watt's fertile brain. He knew exactly what to do to make it a working reality, and set to work with feverish enthusiasm. In 1769 he modestly applied for a patent on "a method of lessening the consumption of steam, and consequently fuel, in fire-engines".

The modern steam-engine was an accomplished fact. The great industrial revolution that transformed England and the whole world had begun, and for two decades the man who made it possible continued to be the source of its centrifugal force.

Watt's engines made their appearance in the Staffordshire coalfields, and were so satisfactory, and such a decided improvement on the crude contraptions they replaced, that the demand for them far exceeded the supply. Watt was not idle in the meantime. He was constantly experimenting with new models, aiming at something still better, and in 1782 he achieved his ambition. He contrived, in that year, to produce a vacuum alternately above as well as below the piston, the steam being at the same time applied on the opposite side. This made the engine work with equal force in both directions. Watt patented this double-acting engine on 12th March,

1782. By this achievement he had produced a rotary engine that was as great an improvement over his first engines as they were over the primitive conceptions evolved by the Marquis of Worcester, Savery, and Newcomen. The beautifully functioning steam-engine that we know to-day had arrived ; all it needed was elaboration and improvement.

An appalling thought has been creeping upon the writer, like an assassin. It is the realization that an Englishman must be introduced into this astounding record of the achievements of Scotsmen. We have racked our brains to find a method of keeping this Sassenach out of our story, but he crowds in on us, with his arm linked familiarly in that of James Watt, and decency obliges us to introduce him. We present, as hurriedly as possible, and with a feeling that in doing so we are taking a risk, Matthew Boulton, of Birmingham. He it was who formed a partnership with the inventor to manufacture and sell the new engines. He was a big man, like Watt, willing to take a chance, and a sticker, once he had committed himself to the enterprise. The happy partnership was of long duration, and before it was terminated both men were wealthy, their splendid steam-engines were working in a thousand factories, mines, and locomotives and steamships, and England had been inundated with a rising tide of new wealth.

James Watt lived to see his invention transform the world, on land and sea. He saw the vast coal-mines of England yielding up their wealth, under power of steam, to create, in turn, steam for a hundred new purposes. He saw sailing ships being outdistanced and replaced by ships powered by the engines he made possible. He saw stage-coaches passing from the highways, for on the heels of his great invention came the railway locomotive. [George Stephenson, who studied steam-engines in Watt's works at Birmingham, and who, as a result of that experience, built the first steam locomotive to be used on a railway, was of Scottish descent. His grandfather was a shepherd in Roxburghshire.] He saw new factories spring up, saw men and women being drawn, in an ever-widening stream, into the grinding cogs of lucrative industry, saw the menacing grip of Napoleon loosened by the trade that developed—saw, in short, the birth of a new England of steam and iron and coal, a veritable Vulcan among the nations.

James Watt died on 25th August, 1819. A huge statue was erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey. It stands in the chapel of St. Paul, and has a cramped appearance. We would much rather have seen it standing on a commanding height on the Mull of Cantyre, looking through the rain and the mist of the Firth of Clyde towards England and the open sea. On the pedestal of this imprisoned figure of stone are these words :

"Not to perpetuate a name, which must endure while the peaceful arts flourish, but to show that mankind have learned to honour those who best deserve their gratitude, the King and his Ministers, and many of his nobles and commoners of the realm, raised this monument up to James Watt, who, directing the force of an original genius, early exercised in philosophical research, to the improvement of the steam-engine, enlarged the resources of his country, increased the power of man, and rose to an eminent place among the most illustrious followers of science and the real benefactors of the world. Born at Greenock, mdccxxxvi. Died at Heathfield, in Staffordshire, MDCCCXIX."

After reading that inscription a good many times, we are more than ever convinced that the statue surmounting it should stand under the open sky, on the Mull of Cantyre, where marine engineers of the Seven Seas would see it, and where it would become grimy with the smoke that drifts down from the furnaces of Clydebank.

Watt's genius was the mainspring of the industrial revolution, and it had some curious repercussions. Up in Glasgow he had come into contact with another Scot called William Murdoch. The man was a mechanical genius, and he followed Watt to Birmingham. Watt's steam-engines were revolutionizing the mines of Cornwall, and to that part of England the practical and resourceful Murdoch was sent. It was not a place for a weakling. The Cornish miners regarded the Scot as a foreigner, and proceeded to terrorize him. Murdoch, however, was just the man for them. One day, when surrounded in his office by a defiant and threatening group of the miners, he decided that it was time to assert himself. He accomplished it by locking the door, taking off his coat, and wading into the delegation of baiters. When four of them were on their backs, and willing to stay that way, the remainder sued for peace, and Murdoch unlocked the door and kicked them out into the street. That ended the reign of terror. Murdoch possessed the strength of three men, had a fist like a ham, and had learned how to use it before he left the banks of the Clyde.

He got the worst beating of his life shortly afterwards, however, and at the hands of the Englishman who was reluctantly admitted into this chapter of Scottish achievements—Matthew Boulton, of Birmingham. We knew there was something sinister about this Sassenach, and we realize, now that it is too late, that we should have snubbed him right at the start, Watt or no Watt.

While working down in Cornwall, Murdoch had built the first model steam locomotive ever seen in Great Britain. It worked perfectly, and after amusing himself with it and showing it to some of his neighbours, Murdoch packed it in a box and proceeded to London to take out a patent. Near Exeter he had the misfortune to encounter Watt's partner on the stage-coach. Boulton was on his way to see Murdoch. He soon talked the Scot into turning back to Cornwall. On reaching his home, Murdoch unpacked his model and showed Boulton how it worked. It was a fatal delay, and shows that a Scot should never allow himself to be talked out of anything by a Sassenach. Nothing came of Murdoch's invention, but a pupil of his, Richard Trevithick, built a railway locomotive at Coalbrookdale, in August of 1802, and got it patented. [It is frequently asserted in England that Trevithick built the first working model of a steam locomotive; but the honour really belongs to Murdoch, who taught Trevithick all he knew about steam-engines.] Twelve years later, George Stephenson built his first steam locomotive, and to Stephenson belongs the credit of making the locomotive a practical commercial success. Over all this inventive activity in the realm of steam, however, the shadow of the master loomed. All of them had received their training and inspiration at the feet of James Watt.

We are not yet ready to leave William Murdoch, for he was making industrial history down in Cornwall. He had become interested in coal-gas soon after he took up his duties down there, and was looked upon with a good deal of suspicion when it was discovered that his house in Redruth was illuminated by some invisible agency. In 1791 Murdoch spoke to the Royal Society about his experiments, and the possibilities of coal-gas for illuminating buildings. The Royal Society listened attentively, but were not enthusiastic.

Murdoch continued his experiments, and seven years later constructed an apparatus for making, purifying, and storing coal-gas in commercial quantities. Watt, knowing his pupil, had become interested, and lo! when the Peace of Amiens was celebrated in England in 1802, William Murdoch turned up at the great Soho works of Watt and Boulton and astounded Birmingham by illuminating the buildings with coal-gas, inside and out. The industrial north was convinced by the demonstration, and Murdoch proceeded to confer the boon of gaslight upon the ill-lit factories of England. Installations at Salford, Manchester, and Leeds convinced progressive factory owners all over the country that the reeking paraffin lamp had to go. When James Watt visited Glasgow in 1805 he was pleasantly surprised to discover that gas was in general use in shops and factories there. Light had come to industry.

Murdoch was keen to get the contract to illuminate London. When he appeared before a Parliamentary Committee to press his claims he was closely questioned by the people's representatives, some of whom were quite as dull as the run-of-mill members who occupy valuable space in the House of Commons to-day. [Said one Member: "Do you mean to tell me that it will be possible to have a light without a wick?" "I do," replied Murdoch. "Ah, my friend," continued the Solon, "you are trying to prove too muchI"

However, the Scottish inventor convinced the English statesmen that new light could be brought into the House of Commons, and in the face of a good deal of criticism succeeding in introducing his new-fangled idea. Just the same, the English architect who planned the installation in the House of Commons took no chances; he placed Murdoch's gaspipes several inches away from the walls, so that they wouldn't set fire to the woodwork! When the installation was complete, and the lights actually working, it was a common sight to see Honourable Members from rural constituencies trying to warm their hands at the exposed pipes.

Murdoch had triumphed over darkness. A new use had been found for England's coal. The noisome lighting conditions of England's factories and shops and homes had been banished, as if by the hand of a magician. It is an interesting fact that "Merdoch", pronounced "Murdoch", was the ancient God of Light venerated by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians. When the Persian Shah, Naser-ed-din, visited London in 1873, he was astounded to find his suite illuminated by gas. On making inquiries, he learned the name of the inventor of the new light. The Shah suggested that Murdoch was obviously a reincarnation of the ancient Persian deity of light, and so impressed was he by the similarity of the names and their common association that he took a photograph of William Murdoch back to Persia and enshrined it in the royal palaces of Teheran and Kasr Kadjar, where it became a divinity in the religion of the Suffi sect of Persia.

While William Murdoch was developing illuminating gas, another Scotsman from Glasgow, James Young by name, was laying the foundations of another vast industry—that devolving upon the use of crude oil. Born in 1811, Young took up the trade of a cabinet-maker in his native city, but he gave it up, like Watt, to study chemistry, and after a dreary enough struggle to make ends meet, he became Professor of Chemistry at University College, London. He was also chemist at Tennant's Chemical Works, in Manchester, and while doing research work for that company became interested in a petroleum spring that had long been a feature of a coalmine in Derbyshire. Young evolved a method of refining this petroleum, erected works for that purpose, and for two years operated his little oil refinery on a commercial basis. His operations came to a sudden stop when the well ceased to flow. Young, however, had glimpsed the possibilities of oil, and he began to search England for new supplies of the raw material. Two years later, in 1850, he heard that there were oil shales at Bathgate. He tested them. They yielded 120 gallons of crude oil to the ton. Satisfied that he had solved the problem of finding a constant supply of raw material, Young took out a patent for the production of paraffin oil from bituminous coal and proceeded to erect distillation works near the site of his supply. His enterprise was entirely successful, in a limited way, and between 1860 and 1870 the number of oil refineries in England jumped from six to ninety. James Young was the father of the crude-oil industry. He did the pioneering work of an industry that was destined to become a world-circling colossus. As a result of his efforts, England and America became oil-conscious. After 1870 the Americans began to tap their immense sources of oil, and English capitalists opened up rich fields in the Caspian, Burma, and Galicia. The flood of new oil overwhelmed the modest output of Young's restricted field in England, petrol began to compete with steam, and the world of transportation entered a new and wonderful era, in which motorcars and millionaires began to multiply at an astounding rate. The man who made it all possible, and the man who led the way, was James Young, of Glasgow.

We have seen how transportation on land was completely transformed by the inventive genius of Scotsmen. In a country whose prestige and power had been established largely on the sea, transportation by sea had not been neglected during the fecund period which was dominated by Watt, and when the great change did come—the change from wind-driven ships to steamers—it was brought about almost entirely by Scotsmen.

It seems advisable to substantiate that statement with proof, for the honour of inventing and operating the first steamship has been claimed, with irritating persistency, by the United States, and even in Great Britain the statement has been published, over and over again, that James Taylor was the first man to power a boat with steam. Let us get back to the year 1787 and the true facts of the matter.

In February of that year, Mr. Patrick Miller, owner of Dalswinton estate, on the outskirts of Dumfries, published a pamphlet in which he made this interesting and significant statement :

I have reason to believe that the power of the steam-engine may be applied to work wheels, so as to give them a quicker motion, and consequently to increase that of the ship. In the course of this summer I intend to make the experiment; and the result, if favourable, shall be communicated to the public.

It should be noted here that Miller was a very progressive landowner, who was constantly experimenting with new ideas. Dalswinton Loch, now almost dried up, lay on the east side of the River Nith; on the west bank, almost directly opposite, lay the farm of Ellisland, then tenanted by Robert Burns, the poet. Miller carried out the plans mentioned in his pamphlet in October of 1788, and the following account of the first trial of a steam-driven boat was published in the Dumfries Journal, copies of which may still be seen:

The following is the result of an experiment no less curious than new. On the 14th instant a boat was put in motion by a steam-engine upon Mr. Miller's (of Dalswinton) piece of water at that place. For some time past his attention has been turned to the application of the steam-engine to the purposes of navigation. He has now accomplished and evidently shown to the world the practicability of this, by executing it upon a small scale: a vessel twenty-five feet long and seven broad was, on the above date, driven with two wheels by a small engine. It answered Mr. Miller's expectations fully, and afforded great pleasure to the spectators present. The engine used is Mr. Symington's new patent engine.

That aggravatingly inadequate report was written for the local newspaper by Mr. James Taylor, who was employed as a tutor at Dalswinton. Several years later Taylor was credited with inventing the steam-driven boat that threshed its way across Dalswinton Loch, and the error has been repeated again and again in print. That Miller was the man behind the idea is clearly indicated in Taylor's report of the demonstration.

The next step in the development of the steamship was taken by William Symington, when, in 1801, he succeeded in enlisting the support of Lord Dundas, who was the dominant figure in the management of the Forth and Clyde Canal, in connection with demonstrating the speed of a steamboat called the Charlotte. Dundas. Symington built this boat and engined her. Thousands of Scots—and at least one Scots-American whom we shall identify later—saw Symington's craft churning up the canal at a speed of seven miles an hour. This was the first steamboat to be used for practical purposes.

Unfortunately for the inventor, the canal directors decided that the giddy speed of the Charlotte Dundas—seven miles an hour!—would wash away the banks of the canal. She was tied up. Symington was unable to overcome the setback, and we have to record the melancholy fact that the ingenious fellow died under conditions of extreme poverty.

After Symington came Bell, a Scottish stonemason who had deserted that trade to become a millwright. Bell went to London about 1785, and remained there until 1790, when he went back to Glasgow. In 1812 he launched the Comet, a thoroughly satisfactory steamboat. She was built by John Wood, of Port-Glasgow, and her engines were put together in the foundry of David Napier. She was 42 feet long, 11 feet broad, had a draught of 5 feet, and was driven by a three-horse-power engine. The Comet plied between Glasgow, Helensburgh, and Greenock, and even ventured as far as Oban.

At this stage of the development of the steamship, American claims of producing the first one were put forward, and it must be added that they have been put forward so persistently ever since that there are few Americans to-day who do not believe that their country enjoys the distinction of having produced the first steam-driven ship. The claim is absurd. The United States inventor, Robert Fulton, launched his steamboat, the Clermont, on the Hudson River in 1807. It was a satisfactory craft, and no wonder! Fulton was the son of an Ayrshire farmer, and he was over in Scotland studying Symington's Charlotte Dundas when she was churning up the waters of the Forth and Clyde Canal away back in 1801. Fulton was just seven years too late to invent the steamship, but in view of the fact that he was a Scot we are constrained to treat him leniently. Had he been an Englishman, or an American, our references to his claims would have been masterpieces of invective.

The first steamship that plied the Thames was the Marjory. She was built by W. Denny, of Dumbarton, in 1814—a Scottish achievement from stem to stern. In the same year three more steamships were built at Dundee, and engined by John Robertson, of Glasgow, and two of them went to the Humber. In 1838 the Sirus, built by Menzies and Son, of Leith, and engined by Wingate and Company, of Glasgow, sailed from Cork to cross the Atlantic in eighteen days. The growth of the Clyde had begun. The bold genius of her shipbuilders and marine engineers was revivifying England's trade and carrying the British flag into every port of the Seven Seas.

One of the first Scots who rose to a commanding position in the world of ships in England was Sir William Fairbairn. He was born on a farm near Kelso on 19th February, 1789, and started his career as a labourer in connection with the construction of the Bridge of Kelso—one of the first built by Rennie. After several years of hard labour and small pay he headed for London. He had a pretty hard row to hoe there. He found the trade unions hostile, could not get past the barriers they erected against the free movement of labour, so drifted to Greenwich, and invented a machine for chopping sausage-meat!

It was not the sort of achievement that entitles a man to burial in Westminster Abbey, but it put thirty-three pounds in the pocket of the needy young mechanic. He drifted to Newcastle, worked for eight shillings a week in a colliery, and studied engineering at night. He had become interested in iron and shipbuilding. Dublin, he thought, might give him the chance he sought. He crossed over to Ireland, landing there with practically empty pockets. When he started to look for work he was again frozen out by the spacious-minded trade unionists. (We pause to note how often these noble-minded champions of the working man have come into this record of achievements—as stumbling-blocks in the paths of able and ambitious men who really made the organized wealth of trades unions possible.)

It was probably a good thing for England that Fairbairn was denied his chance in Ireland, for he crossed over to Manchester. There, in the cotton capital, he got a job—and his chance. He invented efficient cotton-spinning machines that threw the old models into the discard. Indeed, his labour-saving inventions were instrumental in giving Manchester the lead in the cotton-spinning industry. Year by year his interests expanded and his influence grew; he became one of the great men of Manchester because he was always ready to serve the community.

The idea of building iron ships had seized Fairbairn's mind, and in 1830 he had several under construction. They proved to be as satisfactory as wooden ships. A new chapter in marine history was being written. Fairbairn opened his vast works at Millwall, on the Thames, and in fourteen years he built 120 iron ships, including the Great Eastern, the leviathan which carried the Atlantic cable in her bowels. Fairbairn was the man who put iron ships on the sea. Honours poured in upon him. He was elected President of the British Association. A baronetcy was offered him. He declined it at first, but accepted it, reluctantly, in 1869. When he died, in the year 1874, iron ships, built in British shipyards, were steaming into all the ports of the world.

On the Clyde wonderful things were being done. A Glasgow minister's son, George Burns, in partnership with his brother James and another man called Hugh Mattie, had started a line of little sailing-ships between Glasgow and Liverpool in 1824. They got along, and in 1838, with the help of Samuel Cunard, they established the Cunard Line with four steamers of a thousand tons each. A great deal of mail has crossed the Atlantic Ocean since those days, and the culmination of George Burns' pioneering efforts as a shipowner was seen on September 26th, 1934, when Cunarder 534—we like that mysterious number, because it stood so long as a symbol of the courage and craftsmanship that went into the construction of the largest ship ever conceived by the minds of men—slid into the Clyde. [The gross tonnage of Cunarder 534 is 73,000 tons, her length is 1018 feet, and she has been designed to accommodate 4000 people. In the words of Sir Thomas Bell, K.B.E., managing director of John Brown & Co., Clydebank, and Sir Percy E. Bates, Bt., Chairman of the Cunard Company : "The design of the great liner is the culmination of a century of progress in naval architecture and marine engineering."]

John Elder, the great Scottish marine engineer, did much to make the Clyde supreme in the shipbuilding art. It was Elder who designed and built, in 1854, the first compound marine engine. Tested in the steamer Brandon, it was found to reduce the consumption of coal by nearly 40 per cent. By enlarging Watt's ideas, Elder steam-jacketed the cylinders and again cut fuel costs substantially. His next achievement was the invention of the surface condenser, which he tested out in the Royal Bride in 1858. Then, as a fitting culmination to his remarkable career, Elder patented triple and quadruple expansion engines, out of which developed triple and quadruple screw propellers and the trans-Atlantic nonpariels that made the Union Jack a synonym for matchless speed at sea. Through it all we glimpse the genius of Watt.

The Virginian took the water for the Allan Line, then the Carmania for the Cunard Line, and then came the Lusitania, of imperishable memory. She went out into the Atlantic in 1910 to take the trans-Atlantic record from the German ship, Kaiser Wilhelm, crossing from Queenstown to New York in four days, ten hours, and forty-one minutes. Probably the Germans never forgave her for that performance!

De luxe liners were not the only contribution the Clyde was making at this period to the country's maritime power. From her busy yards came warships—the Ramillies, the Jupiter, and the Terrible ; deadly cruisers—the Hindustan, the Inflexible, and the Tiger ; and super-dreadnoughts like the Indomitable and the Hood. The mariners of England that guard our native shores owe more than they perhaps realize to the unmatched skill of the Clydeside shipbuilders and marine engineers.

The Clyde! How much the Flag owes this muddy, man-made waterway of ours! How much, indeed! To enumerate the achievements of the shipbuilders and marine engineers who have come and gone at Clydeside would be to write the most inspiring chapters in the maritime history of the world. The shades of giants haunt these clanging shores. The very ugliness of the soiled channel is something to revere, like unto the gnarled and wrinkled hands of a mother worn and disfigured in the service of her children. We cannot look upon this old river without emotion. For us it symbolizes, far more than any turreted castle we have ever seen, the courage, faith, and practical genius of the common people of Scotland.

Let Glasgow Flourish!

All through the nineteenth century the inventive genius of Scots continued to add power and wealth to England. In the year 1810 Sir John Leslie made artificial ice in Edinburgh. In 1819 Charles Macintosh, a Glasgow chemist, succeeded in finding a cheap solvent for indiarubber, and began to manufacture the first practical waterproof fabrics that the world had ever seen. He operated a successful factory in Glasgow, then opened a branch in Manchester. From that day onward Englishmen began to go out in the rain, and golf—a game they picked up in Scotland—proceeded to undermine the country. [Our English friends, it must be admitted, have been quick in the uptak'. By observing the Scots closely, they learned to eat porridge and marmalade in the morning, and drink whisky at all hours of the day and night. When they venture abroad they are generally dressed in reverberating Harris tweeds.] Macintosh also invented the highly useful method of printing calico and silk by the application of his indiarubber and naphtha varnish. The name of this really remarkable man has been so closely associated with his waterproofed cloth that the world has almost forgotten the important fact that he invented and patented a process for converting iron into steel by the use of carburetted hydrogen gas.

The bicycle was invented by Gavin Dalziel, of Lesmahagow, in 1836. It was a crude machine, but improvements soon came, and what this Scottish invention accomplished in England was strikingly illustrated by the industrial shake-up that took place in the town of Coventry in the late 'seventies and early 'eighties. The collapse of the silk and watch-making industries between 1860 and 1870 had left the town in acute distress, but it pedalled out of its difficulties by turning its idle factories to the manufacture of bicycles. Factory after factory took up the new machine, improvements in models came thick and fast, and by the year 1885 there were no fewer than 175 firms making bicycles in the English city. Coventry has been scorching after prosperity ever since, and of its thousands of skilled bicycle-makers, not one in ten is aware that it was the invention of a Scot that rescued their city sixty years ago. [The first practicable pneumatic tyre was invented by Mr. J. B. Dunlop, of Dreghorn, Ayrshire, in the year 1888. The Dunlop Rubber Company to-day is associated with the business of Charles Macintosh & Co., founded by Charles Macintosh, who invented the waterproof coat.]

During this extremely active period in manufacturing and construction, John Neilson, manager of the Glasgow Gas Works, invented the hot-blast method of treating iron. The process gave a tremendous impetus to the British iron industry, for the substitution of a hot blast for a cold blast before injecting the iron into the furnaces reduced the quantity of coke consumed in the smelting of a ton of iron from eight tons to a quarter of that amount.

The age of electricity may be said to have dawned at the middle of the nineteenth century, and, like that of steam, it was brought about by Scotsmen. As far back as 1834 James Bowman Lindsay, an unschooled genius of Dundee, had astonished his neighbours by illuminating his modest home with electric lamps. The first suggestion of wireless telegraphy came from this man in 1845. He had discovered that the earth, and the sea, could be used as conductors of electrical impulses, but he was unable to translate his knowledge into the actual transmission of wireless messages because he lacked the sensitive apparatus necessary to detect the weak electrical currents involved. He had pointed the way, however, and other Scottish scientists were destined to play important parts in making his dream come true. In 1864 James Clerk Maxwell, another Scot, proved by mathematical equations that a changing electric current produces waves in the all-pervading ether, moving at the speed of light, and that light, heat, and electrical waves were fundamentally identical.

Thus electricity emerged from the realm of obsure speculation, and soon afterwards two miraculous and world-transforming inventions were put forward by Scots. [It is worth noting that the gramophone—then called the phonauto-graph—was invented by Leo Scott in 1856. Thomas Edison improved it and made it a great commercial success, but the credit for inventing it belongs to Scotland.]

The first of them was the incandescent lamp. It was the child of the brain of Joseph Wilson Swan, of Glasgow, whose patent was dated 1878. As far back as 1845—probably inspired by Lindsay's pioneering efforts—Swan had been experimenting with his new lamp. In 1860 he had actually made one, but was checked, from the commercial standpoint, by the inadequate dynamos at his disposal. He did not drop the idea, however. Between 1870 and 1880 he was working on it again, and success crowned his efforts, for on 18th December, 1878, he exhibited a carbon incandescent lamp and lectured on it before the Newcastle-on-Tyne Chemical Society.

Two years later Swan patented his "parchmentized thread". He had discovered a new material with which to replace the paper thread used as the carbon-forming substance. It was made by treating cotton yarn with sulphuric acid. The yarn, he found, became so agglutinated in the process that it lost its fibrous quality and, on being dried, became as hard as catgut and capable of being drawn through dies to a wire of perfect roundness. It was the key to the successful manufacture of incandescent lamps. In October of that year he gave a lighting demonstration with his lamps at Newcastle, and under the trade name of "The Swan Electric Light Company" began to turn out lamps in commercial quantities.

Before the end of 1881 Swan's lamps were illuminating London. The Mansion House, the British Museum, the Royal Academy, the Savoy Theatre, and many other well-known buildings boasted of Swan installations. The inventor was recognized as the genius that he was. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1894. Four years later he was elected President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. In 1901 he was elected President of the Society of Chemical Industry, and in 1904 a knighthood was conferred upon him.

That Sir Joseph Wilson Swan's reputation and brilliant accomplishments in the electrical world have been almost totally obscured during the twentieth century is a curious fact, and it is the result of two conditions—the hopelessly backward state of electrical development in this country, [The consumption of electrical units per head of population per year in Great Britain stood at 256 in 1933. In Canada the consumption per head of population is 1409.] and the aggressive commercial development of electricity in the United States since the beginning of the present century. We recall a controversy that flared up momentarily in the American press a few years ago, when the late Mr. Thomas Edison was being honoured —largely through the grandiose efforts of Mr. Henry Ford—for his supposititious invention of the electric lamp.

Nobody in the United States has ever heard of the real inventor—nor wishes to hear about him. Edison was hailed, in the citadel of Henry Ford, as the great giver of light. A dour and obscure Scot raised his voice in protest in the correspondence columns of a leading newspaper, pointing out that a Scotsman, Sir Joseph Swan, had really been the pioneer in electrical illumination. The Scottish dissenter had a few supporters, but they were buried under the avalanche of adulation that swept towards Edison. No good American would believe, for a moment, that Edison had a predecessor in the realm of electrical development.

We have no desire to minimize the achievements of the American inventor, but it must be said, flatly, that he was twenty years too late in perfecting his electrical lamp to be entitled to the honour of being called, as he has been, "The Father of Electric Lighting". His relation to it was more like that of a rich uncle. He lit his first lamp on 21st October, 1879—forty-five years after electric lights shone in the Dundee home of James Bowman Lindsay and nearly twenty years after Sir Joseph Swan perfected his first lamps. Edison's reputation, however, has eclipsed that of the real inventors of electric light simply because of the appalling apathy of the British people towards electrical developments, the dull indifference of the modern Scot towards the real architects of their country's greatness, and the vast energy of Americans in promoting the use of electrical devices. One finds more electrical conveniences in one State in the United States than one could find in all of Scotland, and Edison has been constantly credited with the rising tide of electrical consciousness that has long been a characteristic of the American people. This country has allowed the name of Swan to become a faint echo to the resounding name of Edison. [It is an interesting fact that Scotsmen have had a good deal to do with spreading electrical power throughout London and England. Sir Alexander B. W. Kennedy, LL.D., F.R.S., planned the whole system and works, and was Chief Engineer until his death in 1928, of Westminster Electric Supply Corporation. The first electric generating stations built in many provincial towns of England were of his planning. Sir Alexander electrified the tramways for Central London, schemed the whole of the electrical part of the Waterloo and City Railway, and prepared the plans for the electrification, west of Paddington, on the Great Western and Hammersmith and City Railways. Sir Duncan Watson was the first Chairman of the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority. Sir Andrew R. Duncan was Chairman of the Central Electricity Board.]

Not much had come out of the electrical theories of James Clerk Maxwell, but in 1887 they were taken up by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, a brilliant young German professor of physics. Hertz went further than Maxwell, by demonstrating that electric waves existed in free ether, and, like light, could be sent in all directions. The German invented a transmitter and a crude detector that showed how these waves might be produced and detected, as they passed through space. As a result of this original work the world first heard of "Hertzian Waves", and, be it added, the scientific basis of wireless telegraphy. Nine years later Guglielmo Marconi solved the practical problem of wireless transmission by inventing the spark-coil transmitter and coherer receiver.

We have searched frantically through the branches of this distinguished Italian's family tree in the hope of discovering that his paternal ancestors were McCronies, but we have to admit, and we do so with profound sorrow, that the man who, on 12th December, 1901, stood on Signal Hill at St. John's, Newfoundland, watching kites that bore antennae wires aloft to intercept feeble signals that came, like magic, across the Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu, Cornwall, was not a Scot. It is something, however, to know that the man who first glimpsed the miracle of wireless telegraphy was a Scot, and that the man who invented the next great miracle of wireless transmission was also a Scot. [The inventor of the first practical television apparatus for the instantaneous transmission of photographs by wire or wireless was John L. Baird, who was born at Helensburgh in 1889.]

Almost contemporaneous with the invention of electric lighting was the invention of another amazing electrical device that linked up humanity—the telephone. In Canada the great majority of the population labour under the pleasing delusion that a Canadian was its inventor. They might, with equal justice, claim that a Newfoundlander invented wireless telegraphy, simply because Signor Marconi stood on the soil of that island to test his theory of trans-Atlantic wireless transmission. It was a Scotsman, born and bred, who invented the telephone. His name was Alexander Graham Bell, and he was born in Edinburgh in 1847. His father, Alexander Melville Bell, was at one time a lecturer on elocution in University College, London. Alexander, the son, was also a teacher of elocution, and, like his father, had given a great deal of study to the science of sounds. Ill-health, however, overtook him when he was twenty-four, and the family moved to Brantford, Ontario, Canada, hoping to win back his health in that robust climate.

In Canada Alexander Graham Bell continued his studies of the science of voice production, and soon after his arrival in the Dominion he received an appointment as teacher to deaf children in a school in Boston, Massachusetts. He began to experiment with the telephone in 1874, and in 1876 he exhibited his first instrument at Philadelphia. In the same year he exhibited the instrument before the British Association in England. He deposited his patent at Washington on 14th February, 1876.

There was no mistaking the significance of the strange invention, and the inventor had no competitors for the honour of producing it. In the year 1882 he was in England, and demonstrated his invention to Queen Victoria at Osborne. The telephone was an accomplished fact. In 1879 the first exchanges were opened in London, and Englishmen began to learn to say: "Are you theah?" Scotland, of course, has been slower than any other country in the world, except Burma, to utilize the great invention of her countryman.

Before leaving this period of electrical inventions, it is necessary to mention the achievements of another Scotsman, Lord Kelvin. In this man, who started life on 26th June, 1824, with the plain name of William Thomson, we have one more illustration of the transcendent genius that blossomed in Scotland in the last century. Lord Kelvin's intellectual capacity was abnormal. At the age of twelve he translated Lucian's Dialogues of the Gods, with full parsing of the first three dialogues, and at twenty-two he was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University and had already impinged his personality upon the world of science. Kelvin, like James Clerk Maxwell, glimpsed the miracle of wireless telegraphy, and as early as 1853 wrote a paper entitled "Transient Electric Currents", which laid down the principles of wireless telegraphy.

This man's achievements in the higher realms of mathematics and physics—he made the science of thermometry definite by introducing the absolute scale of temperature—marked him as one of the greatest scientists of his age; but his most interesting, and probably his most practical, achievement, was the part he played in the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable. The romantic story of the laying of the cable is seldom heard nowadays, and when it is, the name of Lord Kelvin is seldom mentioned at all. Yet without this Scotsman's genius and determination the cable might never have succeeded. It was he who delved into the theory of it, explaining how to overcome the retarded speed of the cabling. He became a member of the Board of Directors of the company formed to float the project, never relaxed his interest, and invented delicate apparatus to make the cable work. The idea of laying the cable originated in the mind of Cyrus Field, an American, and to Field belongs also the credit of promoting the idea with dauntless zeal; but when he had "sold" the idea—the majority of the stock in the enterprise was taken up in Great Britain—he receded into the background and British pioneers took up the sterner task of getting the cable laid and operating successfully.

In this tedious and discouraging battle against Nature, Scotsmen played a great part. The leviathan that carried the cable in her bowels—the Great Eastern—was built by a Scottish shipbuilder; her commander, Sir James Anderson, was a native of Dumfriesshire; and all the delicate instruments for testing and working the great cable were invented by Lord Kelvin and manufactured by Mr. James White, the Glasgow optician. Among these infinitely delicate instruments was Kelvin's "mirror-galvanometer", which he patented on 20th February, 1858, and which proved to be the key that opened the heavy door to submarine telegraphy. Without this invention, submarine telegraphy would not have developed the way it did.

The laying of the cable, of course, was attended by many costly and disheartening mishaps. Twice it snapped in mid-ocean. Kelvin was not dismayed. He was aboard the Agamemnon on 17th July, 1858, when she steamed away from Queenstown on the third attempt to complete the project. Again misfortune overtook the pioneers, for the cable went dead on October 20th. It seemed hopeless to go on with the scheme. The harassed directors of the company began to quarrel among themselves, and their relations with Whitehouse, the English engineer, became very strained. Lord Kelvin, with Scotch tenacity, held on, and in 1866 he was aboard the Great Eastern when, on July 12th, she set out on her final attempt to complete the laying of the cable. This time success came, and Lord Kelvin read the first faint message that crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the conclusion of the voyage. The Old World and the New World had been linked up.

It has been said that England was built by coal, iron, and Scotsmen; but in view of the facts, we think the statement is much too broad. All things considered—and nothing would induce us to look at the matter from the purely Scottish angle—we are firmly of the opinion that, in the interests of accuracy, the reference to coal and iron might be quietly dropped!


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