The Great Scot who harnessed wave energy

Stephen Hugh Salter (born 7 December 1938) is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design at the University of Edinburgh and inventor of the eponymous Salter duck wave energy device. Salter is also a proponent of geoengineering and is responsible for creating the concept of the mechanical enhancement of clouds to achieve cloud reflectivity enhancement.
The wide tank at the University of Edinburgh — a novel design and invention by Stephen Salter, built in 1977 — was the world’s first multi-directional wave tank equipped with absorbing wavemakers. Feedback control systems on the wavemaking flaps were used for the absorption of reflected waves, propagating along the water surface of the tank interior towards the 89 flaps.

Stephen Salter is a Specialist Advisor at wave energy company Aquamarine Power advising on the development of the Oyster wave energy converter.

Salter was appointed MBE in the 2004 Birthday Honours for services to engineering. In 2012 he received the Royal Academy of Engineering Sustained Achievement Award.

The Great Scot who took on the English and won independence 

Robert I, known as Robert the Bruce, was the king of the Scots who secured Scotland’s independence from England.

Robert was born on 11 July 1274 into an aristocratic Scottish family. Through his father he was distantly related to the Scottish royal family. His mother had Gaelic antecedents. Bruce’s grandfather was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during a succession dispute in 1290 – 1292. The English king, Edward I, was asked to arbitrate and chose John Balliol to be king. Both Bruce and his father refused to back Balliol and supported Edward I’s invasion of Scotland in 1296 to force Balliol to abdicate. Edward then ruled Scotland as a province of England.
Bruce then supported William Wallace’s uprising against the English. After Wallace was defeated, Bruce’s lands were not confiscated and in 1298, Bruce became a guardian of Scotland, with John Comyn, Balliol’s nephew and Bruce’s greatest rival for the Scottish throne In 1306, Bruce quarrelled with Comyn and stabbed him in a church in Dumfries. He was outlawed by Edward and excommunicated by the pope. Bruce now proclaimed his right to the throne and on 27 March was crowned king at Scone. The following year, Bruce was deposed by Edward’s army and forced to flee. His wife and daughters were imprisoned and three of his brothers executed. Robert spent the winter on the island off the coast of Antrim (Northern Ireland).

Returning to Scotland, Robert waged a highly successful guerrilla war against the English. At the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, he defeated a much larger English army under Edward II, confirming the re-establishment of an independent Scottish monarchy. Two years later, his brother Edward Bruce was inaugurated as high king of Ireland but was killed in battle in 1318. Even after Bannockburn and the Scottish capture of Berwick in 1318, Edward II refused to give up his claim to the overlordship of Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish earls, barons and the ‘community of the realm’ sent a letter to Pope John XXII declaring that Robert was their rightful monarch. This was the ‘Declaration of Arbroath’ and it asserted the antiquity of the Scottish people and their monarchy.

Four years later, Robert received papal recognition as king of an independent Scotland. The Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Corbeil, by which the Scots were obliged to make war on England should hostilities break out between England and France. In 1327, the English deposed Edward II in favour of his son and peace was made with Scotland. This included a total renunciation of all English claims to superiority over Scotland. Robert died on 7 June 1329. He was buried at Dunfermline. He requested that his heart be taken to the Holy Land, but it only got as far as Spain. It was returned to Scotland and buried in Melrose Abbey.

The Great Scot who defined the popular image of Scotland

Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in August 1771. 

Scott was a poet, novelist, ballad-collector, critic and man of letters, but is probably most renowned as the founder of the genre of the historical novel, involving tales of gallantry, romance and chivalry. Beginning with the publication of Waverley in 1814, one of the most significant books of the nineteenth-century, his anonymously published Waverley novels proved hugely popular in Europe and America, and established his reputation as a major international literary force. It is a measure of Scott’s influence that Edinburgh’s central railway station, opened in 1854, is called Waverley Station.
Scott spent his childhood years in Edinburgh, with occasional extended visits to his grandfather Robert Scott’s farm in Tweeddale in the Borders, where he became versed in his family’s history, and in Borders culture in general. He attended the famed Edinburgh High School, and then followed in his father’s wake by taking a law degree at Edinburgh University, being called to the Bar in 1792. At 25 he began writing, first translating works from German then moving on to poetry. In 1797 he married the daughter of a French refugee, Charlotte Carpenter, with whom he had four children. Five years later, he published a three-volume set of collected Scottish ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders. This was an early indicator of his interest in Scotland and history from a literary standpoint.

He consolidated his legal career by becoming Sheriff-Depute of Selkirk and a Principal Clerk to the Court of Session at Edinburgh. As well as continuing to publish literary work, the versatile and prolific Scott reviewed widely, edited works, set up a theatre in Edinburgh, and helped found the Quarterly Review in 1809.

By the 1820s, Scott was probably the most famous of living Scotsmen, and was consequently chosen to organise the visit to Edinburgh in 1822 of George IV. He was heavily criticised by his Scottish contemporaries for the resultant tartan pageantry, in which the King appeared in Highland dress complete with salmon-pink leggings.

In 1825, his financial state deteriorated drastically, and rather than declare bankruptcy he placed his home, Abbotsford, and income into a trust belonging to his creditors, and proceeded to write his way out of debt. He continued to live at Abbotsford near Melrose, where he died on the 21st September 1832. Among other tributes, the Scott monument was raised on Princes Street in Edinburgh, and a biography was published by his son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, in 1837-8.

The Great Scot who invented Peter Pan

James Matthew Barrie was born at Kirriemuir in Forfarshire, the seventh child to David Barrie, a hand-loom weaver, and Margaret Ogilvie, the daughter of a stone-mason. Surviving on the income provided by declining weaving industry, the Barries were never wealthy and it is from his early childhood experiences as a dweller in the tenements that Barrie drew his sympathetic portraits of the rural poor.
The death of Barrie’s elder brother David, when Barrie was just six years old, was to have a marked effect of his life and work. His mother never recovered from the loss of her son, whom Barrie perceived to be the favourite and whose place in his mother’s affections he strove to replace. The psychological significance of Barrie’s relationship with his mother and his need for maternal approval are apparent in the uncritical, almost doting biography of her life which he published in 1896. The exploration of feminine identity was to become a marked feature of Barrie’s writing. The experience of death in childhood would also influence Barrie’s work, which is constantly pre-occupied with the themes of exile, immortality and the otherworldly.
Barrie’s was an itinerant youth. In 1868 he went to study for three years at Glasgow Academy before returning to Forfarshire where he attended the local school. Then, from 1873 he spent his teenage years at Dumfries Academy before moving to Edinburgh to attend University at the age of 22. Barrie was unmoved by his University experience and he derived his intellectual inspiration largely from the theatre. Upon graduating he was already writing theatrical reviews, a career which eventually led him to London in 1885 where he would produce his first plays.
During the years 1888 – 1891 Barrie penned his first novels, the so-called ‘Thrums fiction’, the fictional setting being based on his own native Kirriemuir and depicting the lives of the rural populations of west Scotland. In 1894 Barrie married the actress Mary Ansell, but the marriage was not to last. It was during these years too that Barrie’s friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family inspired his invention of the Peter Pan tales with which he delighted the Davies children.
The period 1902 – 1921 were to be Barrie’s most successful. During these years he produced no less than ten commercially successful plays. It was in 1904 that Barrie first staged Peter Pan, probably the best known of all his works, in London and New York. In his later life, Barrie was a wealthy man, popular in London society. He was bestowed with several honours including a baronet in 1913 and the Order of Merit in 1922. However, after 1920 Barrie claimed to have lost his imaginative inspiration and all but gave up writing except for his one final prose masterpiece, Farewell Miss Julie Logan (1931). He went on to explore some of his most intimate themes in his final, biblical drama The Boy David, which he believed to be his finest work. The play, however, did not attain the critical or commercial success of his earlier dramas and was abandoned after just fifty-five performances in London. In increasingly ill health and in a state of dejection that belied the critical success of his life, Barrie, in 1937, aged 77, died.

The Great Scot who devised international time zones and Universal Standard Time

Sir Sandford Fleming (January 7, 1827 – July 22, 1915) was an engineer and inventor. Born and raised in Scotland, he emigrated to colonial Canada at the age of 18.
After missing a train in 1876 in Ireland because its printed schedule listed p.m. instead of a.m., he proposed a single 24-hour clock for the entire world, located at the centre of the Earth, not linked to any surface meridian. At a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute, on February 8, 1879, he linked it to the anti-meridian of Greenwich (now 180°). He suggested that standard time zones could be used locally, but they were subordinate to his single world time, which he called Cosmic Time. He continued to promote his system at major international conferences including the International Meridian Conference of 1884. That conference accepted a different version of Universal Time but refused to accept his zones, stating that they were a local issue outside its purview. Nevertheless, by 1929, all major countries in the world had accepted time zones.
In addition to proposing worldwide standard time zones, Fleming designed Canada’s first postage stamp, left a huge body of surveying and map making, engineered much of the Intercolonial Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was a founding member of the Royal Society of Canada and founder of the Royal Canadian Institute, a science organization in Toronto.

The Great Scot who invented the hot-blast oven

James Beaumont Neilson (22 June 1792 – 18 January 1865) was a Scottish inventor whose hot-blast process greatly increased the efficiency of smelting iron.
He was the son of the engineer Walter Neilson, a millwright and later engine wright, who had been a partner of David Mushet in Calder Ironworks, Glasgow. He was born in Shettleston and was trained as an engine wright. After the failure of a colliery at Irvine he was appointed foreman of the Glasgow Gasworks in 1817 at the age of only 25. Five years later he became the manager and engineer there, a position he would hold for 40 years.

While trying to solve a problem with a blast furnace at Wilsontown Ironworks, Neilson realized that the fuel efficiency of the furnace could be increased by blowing it with hot air, rather than cold air, by passing it through a red-hot vessel. Experiments were continued at Clyde ironworks, leading to his forming a partnership with Charles Macintosh and others to exploit it. Patents were obtained for the system in 1828.

Experimentation showed that a temperature of 600° Fahrenheit reduced consumption to a third of that with cold blast, and enabled raw coal to be used instead of coke, with a further cost saving. It also enabled the exploitation of black band ironstone, the use of which had previously proved unprofitable.

In the early 1830s litigation was successfully conducted against those who adopted his methods without licence. After that, Neilson and his partners licensed it widely at one shilling per ton iron made, a level low enough to discourage evasion. The royalties were initially low, but by 1840 were producing £30,000 per year from 58 ironmaste.

Certain infringers were intransigent. Between 1839 and the expiry of the patent in 1842 a considerable number of proceedings were brought. Neilson v Baird was heard in the Court of Session in 1843, in a trial lasting 10 days and costing £40,000. Further proceedings against Baird ended in the award of damages of £160,000.

Neilson retired from Glasgow Gasworks in 1847. He bought an estate on Bute. Later he bought an estate at Queenshill, near Kirkcudbright. There he died. His son, Walter Montgomerie Neilson, erected a monument to his memory there in 1883.

Both in Glasgow and near Kirkcubright, he founded institutions for the education of working men.

William Neilson, James’s brother, founded the Glasgow engineers and locomotive manufacturers Neilson and Company, in 1836, partly financed by James. James’s son Walter took over the running of the firm in 1843.

The Great Scot who founded the SAS

David Stirling was the founder of the Special Air Service (SAS) one of the most famous special forces ofWorld War Two. David Stirling was born in Scotland on November 15th, 1915 and he died on November 4th 1990. Both Stirling and the SAS have gone into folklore with regards to what they achieved between 1941and 1945.
Stirling, the son of a brigadier general, was educated at Ampleforth College. After this, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge University, for a year. However, his heart was set on a life of adventure and activity – not on academic learning. When World War Two broke out in September 1939, he was training for a climb up the then unconquered Mount Everest. However, when war was declared, Stirling joined the Scots Guards Supplementary Reserve of Officers. One year later he joined ‘Layforce’, the nickname for 8 Commando. Here he was in a military unit that promised to fulfil all that he wanted – action. Stirling and ‘Layforce’ then came up against those who held both high military office and traditional views on how wars should be fought. When ‘Layforce’ arrived in North Africa for its first operational tour, it was all but disbanded. There were those who saw what units such as ‘Layforce’ did as being underhand and not ‘British’. Stirling begged to differ.

Despite the despondency over 8 Commando, Stirling was convinced that a highly trained unit could operate behind enemy lines with a devastating impact. He joined with Jock Lewes, who held similar views, to form the nucleus of what was the become the SAS. While in training, Stirling suffered an injury from a parachuting accident that was to keep him in hospital for two months. It was during this time of enforced rest, that Stirling was able to devote the necessary time to actually planning what the SAS would do. Without such planning, he would not be able to sell the new unit to the British military powers in North Africa.

In a traditional military setting, officers had been told that if they had a point to make, they had to go through the proper channels – which could be very time consuming as it meant going to your next superior officer who might then take your idea up to the next one and so on. Stirling went straight to the second most important British officer in North Africa – General Ritchie. Stirling sold his idea to Ritchie who took the idea to his commander – General Auchinlek. By being unorthodox – so important to the way the SAS worked in the North African desert – Stirling got the support of both men. Stirling gathered around him 66 men from ‘Layforce’ and they, as the new Special Air Service, trained to operate behind enemy lines.

The first mission of the SAS was a disaster. Stirling was over-confident about his men’s ability to parachute in adverse weather. They jumped in high winds and driving rain. Some of the men were dropped well away from the drop zone. Only 22 of the 66 men returned to base. Rather than get depressed over lost comrades, Stirling believed that the best honour he could pay to these men was to learn from al the mistakes made in the raid. The most important decision made by Stirling was that any insertion into enemy territory would be best done by going overland – not by parachute drop. It was as a result of this decision that the SAS initially teamed up with the Long Range Desert Group founded by Ralph Bagnold.

Eventually the SAS acquired their own Jeeps that they equipped with twin Vickers K machine guns. Stirling used these vehicles to devastating effect on raids on German air bases. Such was the success of the SAS, that Hitler issued his infamous ‘Kommandobefehl’ order – that any Special Forces man captured by the Germans would be summarily shot.

David Stirling’s participation in World War Two ended in 1943 in what can only be described as an anti-climax. Captured by the Germans, he was imprisoned in Colditz Castle where he spent the rest of the war.

David Stirling has been called “the most under-decorated soldier of the war”. Nicknamed the “Phantom Major” by those who knew him, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his work in World War Two. He was knighted in 1990 and died in the same year.

The Great Scot who became the world’s richest man and bequeathed Carnegie Hall to NYC

Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. He built a leadership role as a philanthropist for the United States and the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away to charities, foundations, and universities about $350 million (in 2015 share of GDP, $78.6 billion) – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and it stimulated a wave of philanthropy.
Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated to the United States with his very poor parents in 1848. Carnegie started work as a telegrapher and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges and oil derricks. He accumulated further wealth as a bond salesman raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million (2015 per share of GDP, $370 billion), creating the U.S. Steel Corporation. Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall and he founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others.

The Great Scot who changed Japan 

Thomas Blake Glover lived from 6 June 1838 to 13 December 1911. Born in Fraserburgh he went on to become one of the first westerners to establish a business in Japan, today being widely remembered there as one of the founding fathers of modern Japan. 
Glover was born at 15 Commerce Street, Fraserburgh, the fifth son in a family of seven boys and one girl. His mother was from Fordyce, and his father was Fraserburgh’s Chief Coastguard, having previously served as an officer in the Royal Navy. In 1851 the family moved to Bridge of Don near Aberdeen.

After he left school, Glover took up employment with the trading company, Jardine, Matheson & Co. He first visited Japan in 1857, which at the time was widely viewed as a closed society where business was both difficult and dangerous for outsiders. In 1859 the 21 year old Glover established a presence for Jardine Matheson in Nagasaki, buying Japanese green tea. Two years later he set up his own company in Nagasaki, the Glover Trading Company (Guraba-Shokai).

The 1860s were a period of considerable success for Glover. He started by trading in ships and arms to a number of rebellious clans opposed to the established regime in Japan. In 1865 he introduced the first steam locomotive ever seen in Japan, the “Iron Duke”, and by 1868 he was influential enough to play a part in the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Meiji Restoration. This left him very favourably placed with the new regime, and in 1869 he commissioned one of the first modern warships to serve in the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Jho Sho Maru, later called the Ryujo Maru. This was built by Alexander Hall & Company in Aberdeen.

By the end of the 1860s Glover was also operating Japan’s first coal mines and had built its first dry dock. He went bankrupt in 1870, but this proved only a temporary setback. He went on to found a shipbuilding company, which later became the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan. He also helped set up the Japan Brewery Company, which went on to become the Kirin Brewery Company, now a major player in the Asian market. Some have suggested that the facial hair of the fantastic creature that appears on Kirin Beer labels is in memory of Glover and his own moustache. Glover became the first non-Japanese recipient of the prestigious Order the or Rising Sun.

In the 1870s Glover married Yamamura Tsuru, reputedly the former wife of a samurai warrior she had been obliged to divorce because of political differences between her family and his. They settled at Glover House in Nagasaki, the house Glover had built in 1863, and the oldest western-style building in Japan. Together they had a son and a daughter, though there have been suggestions that the son was actually by another Japanese woman, Kaga Maki, in circumstances that are unclear but possibly predated Glover’s relationship with Yamamura Tsuru. In any event, Glover and Tsuru lived together until the latter’s death in 1899. In 1911 Glover himself died in Tokyo, and was later buried at the Sakamoto International Cemetery in Nagasaki.

There is one further twist to the story of Thomas Blake Glover and Yamamura Tsuru. Many believe that she became the inspiration for Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” which is set in Nagasaki. Others dispute this, but the Madam Butterfly link features prominently in exhibits on show at Glover House in Nagasaki, which is now a museum devoted to him. Meanwhile, the Glover family home at 79 Balgownie Road, Bridge of Don, has also become a museum about Thomas Blake Glover. 15 Commerce Street, Fraserburgh, fared less well, being destroyed by a bomb in WWII.

The Great Scot who invented the pedal bicycle

Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, the son of a blacksmith. He did a variety of jobs as a young man, before settling into working with his father in 1824. At around that time he saw a hobbyhorse being ridden along a nearby road, and decided to make one for himself. Upon completion, he realised what a radical improvement it would be if he could propel it without putting his feet on the ground. Working at his smithy, he completed his new machine in around 1839.
This first pedal bicycle was propelled by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the rider’s feet on the pedals. This movement was transmitted to cranks on the rear wheel by connecting rods; the machine was extremely heavy and the physical effort required to ride it must have been considerable. Nevertheless, Macmillan quickly mastered the art of riding it on the rough country roads, and was soon accustomed to making the fourteen-mile journey to Dumfries in less than an hour. His next exploit was to ride the 68 miles into Glasgow in June 1842. The trip took him two days and he was fined five shillings for causing a slight injury to a small girl who ran across his path.

He never thought of patenting his invention or trying to make any money out of it, but others who saw it were not slow to realize its potential, and soon copies began to appear for sale. Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied his machine in 1846 and passed on the details to so many people that for more than 50 years he was generally regarded as the inventor of the bicycle. However, Macmillan was quite unconcerned with the fuss his invention had prompted, preferring to enjoy the quiet country life to which he was accustomed. He died on 26 January 1878.