More Info

Mechanical Engineering

Search by category

Choose a language

BROWN, Samuel KH, FRSE. (1776-1852) Civil & Mechanical Engineer.


Son of William Brown of Borland, Galloway, Scotland. Carried out experiments with wrought iron chain cables and his proposals on their use in ships rigging were taken up by the royal navy. He designed and built major suspension bridges using his chains.

BUICK, David Dunbar (1854-1929) Founder of the Buick Motor Company

Born Arbroath, Angus, Scotland. Buick cars became a cornerstone of the General Motors leviathan and over 35,000,000 cars were built in his name. He also invented the overhead valve (OHV) engine which is still used in the vast majority of cars produced today. He was also responsible for the invention of the technique for coating cast iron baths with vitreous enamel.

DAVIDSON, Robert (1804-1894) Invented and Built World’s First Electric Locomotive.

Born and educated in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is also credited with building the world’s first electric car.

DYER Henry (1848-1918) Scottish Mechanical Engineer in Japan

Born in what is now Bellshill in Lanarkshire, he studied engineering at Anderson’s College, now Strathclyde University, and at Glasgow University. In 1873, on the recommendation of his professor, he was awarded the post of first Principal and professor of engineering at the newly constructed Imperial College of Engineering (ICE) in Japan, where he played a major part in revolutionising the Japanese engineering education system. He greatly contributed to the progress Japan made to become an industrial giant, and contributed much to Scottish and Anglo-Japanese relations.

HASWELL, John (1812-1897) Engineer and Locomotive Designer

Born Lancefield, Glasgow, and educated at Anderson’s College (now Strathclyde University). Worked with William Fairbairn for many years before being requested to go to Austria where he designed and built the repair shop for the Wien-Raaber railway. He then took over its management and began designing and building locomotives, including the first eight-coupled steam engine which became the standard heavy freight locomotive throughout Europe and Russia. He invented the steam brake (1861), the first four cylinder locomotive, and the hydraulic forging press.

MURDOCH or MURDOCK, William (1754-1839)

Born Lugar, by Cumnock, Ayrshire. Worked with James Watt. Invented the oscillating cylinder steam engine, and the sun and planet gear which converted vertical motion to rotary movement. He also made many improvements for steam engines and invented the precursor of the turbine, called the steam wheel, whereby a wheel could be rotated by the pressure of steam moving through it. He developed the first pneumatic message system and the first steam powered road going carriage in Britain. He applied coal gas lighting to his home at at Redruth. It was the first domestic property to be lit by gas. His interests in chemistry gave rise to new materials.

Sturrock, Archibald (1816-1909) Locomotive Designer, Builder

Born Angus, Scotland. Favoured by Brunel, he designed many types of steam locomotives and attained senior management positions with mainline railway companies. Co-founder of the Yorkshire Engine Company.

WATT, James FRS, FRSE (1736-1819) The Watt Steam Engine

Born Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. His invention, the Watt Engine, kick-started and powered the industrial revolution. Isaac Asimov stated that Watt, by inventing the centrifugal governor created “the germ of automation, since the centrifugal governor was a device that controlled a process by means of the variations in the process itself. Automation has not come into its own until recent decades, but it began with James Watt, and the word governor, via the Greek, has given us the word cybernetics.” Among many other advances made by Watt was the first desktop copier with a patent filed in 1780, and steam heat, when he heated is office with steam. The term horsepower (550 ft-lbs per second) is his, and the unit of power in the metric system is called the Watt in his honour.

Scottish Achievement, Influence & Heritage is a work in progress