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British Industrial History

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William Nairn

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William Nairn (1878-1928)

1928 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM NAIRN was born at Glasgow in 1878.

He received his technical education at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow.

After an apprenticeship with Messrs. Dubs and Co. (later the North British Locomotive Co., Ltd.) he went to Messrs. Greenwood and Batley of Leeds for electrical experience.

In 1898 he was appointed a charge engineer at the first tramway power station of the Glasgow Corporation Tramways at Springburn, later becoming power station and rolling-stock superintendent and having charge of the overhead line.

In 1901 he left Glasgow to take up an appointment with the newly formed London United Tramways, Ltd., and had charge of the distribution system, including mains, substations and overhead line. He was responsible for much of the constructional work and electrical development of that system.

In 1911 he returned to Glasgow to join the technical staff of the Clyde Valley Power Co. as constructional engineer and, later, as mains engineer. He remained with them until 1917, when he moved to Bristol to take up an appointment as chief electrical engineer to the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Co., Ltd.

He remained at Bristol until his death in February 1928 and was responsible for many improvements in the electrical system under his control, including extensions to, and the modernizing of, the power station equipment.

He also acted in an advisory capacity to the Bristol Aeroplane Co. on the installation of special equipment for the testing of air-cooled aeroplane engines of large power, and on the installation and use of electrical power in their aeroplane and engine works.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1901 and a Member in 1905. He served as Chairman of the Western Centre during the Session 1924-1925 and was a member of the Committee of that Centre from 1920 to his death. He was a regular contributor to the discussions, his contributions being always marked by a happy combination of sound technical knowledge and shrewd common sense, rendering them eminently worth hearing.

He was an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and also a member of the Tramways and Light Railways Association and did valuable work as a member of committees of the latter body and of the Bristol Association of Engineers. During the War, he acted as an honorary assistant to the Board of Trade Coal Mines Department. Outside his professional work, his interests were entirely devoted to his family and home. His whole life was characterized by a quiet efficiency and thoroughness and, while never seeking prominence, he was ready at all times to help others who sought his advice on technical or other problems. He was ever ready to forgive a mistake made in an honest attempt to get something done, but had little patience with inefficiency. His death, with tragic suddenness, has removed an outstanding personality from the electrical world.

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