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British Industrial History

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James Oswald Baird

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James Oswald Baird (1874-1935)

1935 Obituary [1]

JAMES OSWALD BAIRD made a special study of shale oil distillation and was for many years engaged by firms concerned with the exploitation of oil shale.

He was born in Whitehaven in 1874 and received his technical education at Glasgow Technical College. In 1891 he entered the Kilmarnock works of Messrs. Grant Ritchie and Company, general engineers and ironfounders, and served as an apprentice until 1896, after which he worked for three years as an improver with the Clydebank Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, Ltd.

He then joined the Glengarnock Iron and Steel Company, Ltd., for whom he became in 1902 chief draughtsman and assistant engineer.

In 1912 he began his work on shale oil production, which commenced with his appointment as chief engineer and assistant works manager to the Pumpherston Oil Company, Ltd.

He was appointed general assistant to the chief engineer at Messrs. William Beardmore's Parkhead works in 1916, and in 1920 was made managing director of the Boghead Foundry Company, Ltd., at Denny, Stirlingshire.

Three years later he took up engineering agencies in Scotland, but left Scotland in 1925 on his appointment as general manager in Bulgaria of the Bulgarian Oil Syndicate, Ltd. He also took charge of the experimental works for the distillation of oil from shale.

In 1930 he was appointed manager for Estonia, to carry out experimental oil shale distillation for the New Consolidated Goldfields, Ltd. He returned home two years later and continued his studies of shale distillation, and also acted as adviser to firms specializing in the process.

Mr. Baird was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1920.

His death occurred on 27th February 1935.

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