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British Industrial History

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Donald MacNicoll

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Donald MacNicoll (1882-1937)

1937 Obituary [1]

DONALD MACNICOLL was a well-known authority on safety valves, especially those for marine use. He was joint managing director of Messrs. Cockburns, Ltd., of Cardonald, Glasgow, and had held this position for twelve years. Mr. MacNicoll was born at Partick, Glasgow, in 1882, and studied for three years at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. He served a five years' apprenticeship, terminating in 1904, at the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd., of Govan, and then entered the drawing office. In 1907 he commenced his thirty years' association with Messrs. Cockburns, on his appointment as chief draughtsman to the firm. From 1912 to 1914 he also acted as assistant general manager. He then became technical director and general manager, and held this appointment until 1925. He was joint patentee of the full-bore safety valve, bulkhead self-closing and emergency stop valves, an improved balanced manoeuvring valve, and the full-bore exhaust valve; these were adopted by the Admiralty and by many foreign navies. He also invented the high-lift safety valve, a self-closing boiler stop valve, an emergency shut-off valve and "super-balanced" manoeuvring valve for turbine machinery, and a combined regulating throttle and emergency valve for reciprocating machinery. His designs for safety valves were selected for the French liner Normandie and for the Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary. Mr. MacNicoll was the author of several papers read before scientific institutions and he frequently contributed to the discussions of technical papers, and many of his articles were published in the technical press.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1927 and was also a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects. His death occurred at Langbank on 19th April 1937.

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