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British Industrial History

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Neil J. McDermaid

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Neil J. McDermaid (1874-1927)

1927 Obituary[1]


"The numerous friends of Mr. Neil J. McDermaid, of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, learnt with profound regret of his sudden death from pneumonia on January 20. He joined the Director of Dockyards’ Staff at the Admiralty last April, and was at duty on the day of his death, but, taken ill shortly after retiring to rest, had expired before medical attention could be obtained. Mr. McDermaid was born on March 8, 1874, and entered Chatham Dockyard as a shipwright apprentice in 1889. His conduct and progress at the Dockyard School being very satisfactory, he was appointed a Naval Construction Cadet in 1893 for a year’s instruction at the Royal Naval Engineering School at Devonport. In October, 1894, he joined the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, for a three years’ course of study, and in 1897, after passing his final examination very creditably, entered the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. Early in 1898 he was sent for twelve months’ sea experience to HMS Magnificent, and on completing this to Portsmouth for six months’ instruction in electrical engineering.

In July, 1899, he was appointed to the department of the Director of Naval Construction at the Admiralty, and served there until March, 1904, when he was sent to Devonport yard, one of the duties with which he was especially charged being the professional instruction of naval construction cadets. He remained at Devonport until December, 1909, when he was appointed Principal Admiralty Overseer of the Princess Royal, to be built by Messrs. Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness. On the commissioning of the Princess Royal, Mr. McDermaid was appointed overseer of the Australia, then building at Messrs. John Brown’s, Clydebank. His connection with this ship was, however, of short duration, for the Turkish Government had applied to the Admiralty for the services of a constructive officer to supervise the construction of the battleship Reshadieh at Barrow, and to act as general technical adviser, and Mr. McDermaid was selected in April, 1913, as the most suitable officer for the post. The outbreak of the Great War terminated this engagement, the battleship was taken over by the Admiralty and renamed the Erin, and Mr. McDermaid was appointed Constructor at Chatham Yard. In May, 1915, he was transferred to a similar post at Devonport, remaining there until September, 1917, when he was appointed Senior Constructor at Portsmouth. Five years later he was promoted to Chief Constructor at Pembroke and on the closing down of that yard in April, 1926, was appointed to the Admiralty.

Mr. McDermaid was very painstaking and conscientious. His personality made him a general favourite and endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. His close friend and fellow-student whilst at Greenwich College was Mr. John Smith, late of Messrs. Thornycrofts, Southampton, who died last July, and whose career was referred to in these columns at the time."

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