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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (E)
Elder, John


Made continuous improvements to marine engines which became the world standard and made the Clyde the most important shipbuilding river in the world. In 1883 the first Naval Architecture Chair in the world was created  at the University of Glasgow. The John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture was resulted from the friendship between Professor William J. Macquorn 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. This was the beginning of the Naval Architecture Department.

John Elder, like Robert Napier, was truly one of the fathers of modern shipbuilding. It was his development of the compound steam engine (every bit as important as James Watt's condenser) that gave the River Clyde and Randolph, Elder and Co. the technological edge which led to the Clyde being at the forefront of the world shipbuilding industry. He encouraged his workers to attend evening classes and even paid the fees of those who could not afford them. His influence was such that most businesses in Govan closed as an expression of respect at the news of his death.


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