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William Nithsdale

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William Nithsdale (1900-1949) of Yarrow and Co and later of Richardsons, Westgarth and Co

1949 Obituary [1]

MANY of our readers will have learned with deep regret of the sudden death of Mr. William Nithsdale, at the early age of forty-eight, which occurred at his home, 10, St. John's Road, Sidcup, Kent, on Monday, May 9th.

Mr. Nithsdale was born in Paisley in September, 1900, and was the son of Mr. W. H. Nithsdale, O.B.E. He received his early education at Ludlow Grammar School, and at Allan Glen's School, Glasgow.

At the age of seventeen he joined the Royal Air Force, and saw service the next year. At the end of the war he continued his training as an engineer and served his apprenticeship with the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd., of Govan, Glasgow, at the same time pursuing his technical studies at the University of Glasgow.

In 1922 he gained his B.Sc. Degree in marine engineering and also offered naval architecture successfully in his final examinations. After following a period of post-graduate activity combined with the teaching of mathematics at night schools, he accepted in 1923 an appointment on the technical staff of Yarrow and Co., Ltd., at Scotstoun. At first he was connected with estimating, design and testing of Yarrow boilers for land work, and was associated with the Bankside power station installation and several industrial boiler plants in this country and overseas.

About 1930 he became Mr Harold Yarrow's assistant and was closely associated with the firm's activities, not only in the land boiler erection but in all departments, including contracts for destroyers, other naval vessels, yachts and river craft, and marine boilers for large liners, such as the "Queen Mary."

In 1933 his work was recognised by his appointment as a director of the company.

During the next eight years Mr. Nithsdale took an active part in the development of the firm's business. In 1941 he retired from the firm.

In the autumn of 1941 he accepted the invitation of Sir Summers Hunter to join the Richardsons Westgarth group of companies. He was appointed to Richardsons Westgarth and Co., Ltd., of West Hartlepool and in January, 1942, became director and resident manager of the Hartlepool works. At that time the company was developing its war effort mainly by building largo reciprocating marine engines for 12,000- ton oil tankers, operating on the reheat, triple-expansion principle. During that year there was a great need for larger and faster tankers and cargo liners, and Richardsons Westgarth were asked to become the parent firm for the machinery of a series of 15-knot 12,000-ton vessels, to be propelled by high power geared turbine machinery, taking steam from Foster Wheeler high-duty water-tube boilers. Mr. Nithsdale took an active part in the modification of the works in order to carry through that programme, and over thirty sets of such machinery were built the greater part of which were constructed at the Hartlepool Engine Works of the company.

After the war the firm resumed its normal manufacturing programme and condensing and feed-heating plants for power stations were designed and built, and large turbo-alternators for power station and industrial plants. The company also entered the field of industrial and land stations with the Foster Wheeler boiler and before he left Richardsons Westgarth & Co., Ltd., for London in March, 1947, Mr. Nithsdale obtained several important orders.

Throughout his career Mr. Nithsdale took a prominent part in the affairs of technical Institutions and was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Naval Architects, the Institute of Marine Engineers, the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, and the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Ship builders. He was a Past-President of the Glasgow University Engineering Society. Two papers he read may be mentioned, that of 1930 to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on "Design and Results of a 600 lb per square inch Boiler Installation," and another in the same year to the Liverpool Engineering Society on "Some Comparative Features of Marine and Land Water-Tube Boilers."

He came to London in 1947 and established himself as a consulting engineer and the representative of a number of Scottish and North Country firms interested in engineering and oil industry products. He was looking forward to continuing an active life in the south, and his death at an early age will not only be mourned by his family and intimate friends but by his colleagues on the staffs of the two firms he faithfully served, and the many business friends to whom he endeared himself.

1950 Obituary [2]

"WILLIAM NITHSDALE, B.Sc., whose untimely death occurred at Sidcup in May 1949, at the age of forty-eight, was an authority on the design of turbines and high-pressure boilers, both for marine and land work, and had travelled widely in connection with contracts placed in this country by firms on the Continent.

He was educated at Ludlow Grammar School and at Allan Glen's School, Glasgow, and in 1916 began to serve an apprenticeship with the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd., which was, however, interrupted by service in the Royal Air Force, at the conclusion of which he continued his education at Glasgow University, where he graduated B.Sc. in engineering in 1923. He then began a long connection with Messrs. Yarrow and Company, Ltd., in Glasgow and, after acting as technical manager, joined the board of directors in 1933.

He was at first responsible for developing the production of land boilers, but subsequently he was largely instrumental in re-establishing the marine business, and supervised the construction of boilers and other equipment for several large liners including the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In addition he was responsible for all Admiralty contracts for fast, light craft, which also involved the supervision of hulls and machinery. He severed his connection with Messrs. Yarrow and Company in 1941 and became resident director in charge of the Hartlepool works of Messrs. Richardsons, Westgarth and Company, Ltd. In this capacity he did much during the war of 1939-45 to increase the production of machinery and boilers for the merchant shipbuilding programme.

Since 1947 he had been in practise on his own account as a consulting engineer. Mr. Nithsdale, who was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1929, and transferred to Membership two years later, will be remembered for the valuable services he rendered as a Member of the Scottish Branch Committee from 1938 to 1941. He was the author of a paper on "Design and Results of a 600 lb. per sq. in. Boiler Installation", which he presented in 1930. In addition he was a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects and a Member of Council of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland.

During the war of 1939-45 Mr. Nithsdale served as Admiralty A.R.P. control officer and as captain in the Home Guard. For these services he received the commendation of the Admiralty and Scottish Command."

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