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British Industrial History

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John Duncan

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John Duncan (1869-1941)

1942 Obituary [1]

JOHN DUNCAN, Wh. Ex., will be remembered for his remarkable success as a teacher and author of textbooks on engineering subjects. He was also joint author, with Mr. S. G. Starling, of "A Textbook of Physics" which gained him a great reputation.

He was born in 1869 and received his technical education at Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, and at the University of Glasgow. From 1885 to 1890 he served his apprenticeship in the works of Messrs. D. Stewart and Company, and was retained by the firm as a draughtsman until 1891, when he became senior assistant to the professor of applied mechanics at Anderson's College, Glasgow. The remainder of his career was entirely devoted to technical education.

He obtained a Whitworth Exhibition in 1892 and continued his studies and his teaching work in Glasgow until 1896, in which year he went to University College, Nottingham, as demonstrator in mechanical engineering. Two years later he began his long association with West Ham Technical College, which lasted until his retirement in 1929. His first appointment there was a lectureship in civil and mechanical engineering, and in the following year he became head of the mechanical engineering department. One of his most important contributions to the College was the design and equipment of the whole of the engineering department.

Among the best known of his textbooks were "Applied Mechanics for Beginners", "Applied Mechanics for Engineers", and "Steam and Other Engines". Mr. Duncan was a member of the Board of Examiners in the Faculty of Engineering at London University, and a member of the Board of Studies. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1901 and was transferred to Membership in 1908. His death occurred on 28th July 1941.

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