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Alexander Anderson

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Alexander Anderson (1842-1922)

1923 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER ANDERSON died at his home at Dore, near Sheffield, on November 4, 1922.

He was born at Tain, Ross-shire, in 1842. He went through an apprenticeship to engineering in Aberdeen, Dundee, and Glasgow. He then entered Glasgow University and studied Natural Philosophy and Engineering Science under Lord Kelvin and Professor Rankine, obtaining the University's diploma of proficiency (C.E.) in 1871.

In 1872 he was appointed chief draughtsman to the Royal Laboratory Department, Woolwich Arsenal. About this time the British Government had purchased the right to manufacture the Whitehead torpedo. He devoted himself with great zeal and enthusiasm to the development of this weapon, and his skill as a mathematician and designer was largely instrumental in effecting important improvements in speed, range, and steadiness on the Whitehead model. He introduced a special design of propellers of gradually increasing pitch, and also introduced improvements in the depth and steering-gear.

In 1875 he was appointed principal in charge of the torpedo branch, Royal Laboratory. In 1878 he was granted a special monetary award, and a letter of thanks, from the Government for his improvements. Many "R.L. Marks" of torpedo were designed and constructed under his personal supervision. The speed was raised from about nine knots in the earliest models to thirty knots at the time he left the Government service.

In 1883 he was appointed a member of the Admiralty Torpedo Committee on H.M.S. Polyphemus and on H.M.S. Vernon at Portsmouth, and there he collaborated for some years with various naval experts, and in this connection he afforded valuable assistance to the Admiralty.

In 1888 he, in conjunction with his brother, the late Mr. Innes Anderson of Stowmarket, took out a patent for smokeless gunpowder, they being the first to use the squirting process in the manufacture of cordite. He had also various patents for shells and projectiles.

He was appointed manager of the Royal Laboratory some years before he left, and in 1892 he became general manager to the firm of Messrs. Thomas Firth & Sons of Sheffield, being in special charge of the firm's gunworks till his retirement in 1907.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1889.

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