Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,464 pages of information and 233,889 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Major General Henry Young Darracott Scott (1822-1883)
1884 Obituary 
MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY DARRACOTT SCOTT, C.B., R.E., was the son of Mr. Edward Scott, an extensive quarry owner, and was born at Plymouth in January 1822.
At the age of sixteen he entered the Royal Military College at Woolwich, through which he passed in what, even then, was considered a very short period of time, and obtained the sword of honour.
In December 1840 he was appointed second lieutenant, and joined the corps of Royal Engineers at Chatham early in 1841. After a stay there of some fifteen months, he was transferred to Woolwich, and in 1843 he received orders to proceed to Gibraltar, where he held the post of adjutant.
In 1848 Mr. Scott was appointed assistant instructor in field works at the Military Academy, Woolwich, and it was then that he first came into notice as a man who delighted in hard work, and considered himself sufficiently recompensed for it by the pleasure it gave him.
In addition to his regular duties at the Academy, he was in the habit at that time of attending the laboratory at King’s College, London, where he commenced the study of chemistry, and laid the foundation of that knowledge which, at a later date, resulted in his directing his attention to many important questions, notably to the disposal of sewage in large towns. At Woolwich he started a laboratory, with the object of inducing the young officers of the Royal Engineers to study chemistry, and at the same time he instituted a series of experiments on limes and cements, the practical outcome of which was the discovery of the material now known as Selenitic cement; he also undertook an inquiry into the representation of ground in plans, which he afterwards perfected at Chatham. In November 1851 he was promoted to second captain, and on the 1st of April, 1855, to first captain, in which year he received the appointment of Instructor in Surveying at Chatham. It was an unfortunate circumstance that neither here, nor in any other position which he subsequently held, did he husband his physical resources, but on the contrary taxed his strength to the uttermost, and impaired a naturally vigorous constitution by overwork. Captain Scott proved himself, at Chatham, an invaluable officer ; as an instructor of the younger officers, as a lecturer, and as a promoter of whatever organisation tended to raise the standard of efficiency in the corps, he was foremost. He was at this time chiefly employed in arranging a survey-course. Writing upon this subject, General Collinson, a brother officer, observes:-
"In the field-sketching branch of this department he worked out his ideas of showing the features of ground by an ingenious arrangement of horizontal hachures, under certain fixed rules as to thickness and interval, which combined pictorial effect with a certain amount of accuracy of slope. This system, or some modification of it, was, after long discussion, adopted in the Royal Military Academy and at Sandhurst, as well as at Chatham, as the basis for the practice of military sketching. But I don’t think Scott ever got any reward for this valuable addition to the military education of the army.”
Captain Scott took a prominent part in establishing the Transactions of the Corps of Royal Engineers, and contributed to them several Papers, he acting for a short time, it is believed, as the editor.
On the 19th of May, 1863, he was promoted brevet-major, and on the 5th of December of the same year he became a regimental lieutenant-colonel.
In December 1864 Colonel Scott was appointed to succeed Captain Fowke as the Director of Works at the South Kensington Museum, a position he was eminently well qualified to fill, and in which he was at once called upon to design and execute public buildings of the highest importance. The plans and models left by Captain Fowke, though they indicated the general character of the proposed museum buildings, were scarcely sufficiently advanced to serve for practical purposes; and among the first duties Colonel Scott had to undertake was the completion of the new Lecture Theatre at the Museum, left unfinished by Captain Fowke, and the designs for the Science School. The latter building was entirely executed under Colonel Scott, and it is admitted to be a very handsome addition to London street architecture.
It was a condition of his employment that Colonel Scott should avail himself to the utmost of the services of the students who were being trained in the Art Schools, and owing to the nature of the work, the novel character of the building materials, and the varied methods of decoration adopted here, General Scott was remunerated by a fixed salary, in lieu of the usual architect’s commission on the work. During the latter portion of the time he was employed at the Museum, he was called on to prepare designs for the completion of the Museum buildings, at a cost of nearly £500,000, and a careful model of this work, which is now placed in the South Kensington Museum, was submitted to the authorities.
Many of the separate portions of these buildings were modelled to a large scale, and working drawings were prepared for the south-east and south-west wings. This design differed entirely from that originally projected by Captain Fowke, as the size and scale of the galleries and museums, as planned by the latter officer, were no longer adapted to the requirements of the South Kensington authorities. To the surprise and grief of General Scott, who had always regarded his position at South Kensington as a permanent one, he received notice to surrender his appointment, and to hand over his drawings and models to the officers of the First Commissioner of Works in January 1882, and he was finally dismissed in the month of March following. This sudden termination of his duties, and the cares and anxiety he underwent in consequence, broke his failing health, and he died on the 22nd of April, 1883.
General Scott was the Secretary of the Annual International Exhibitions held in London in 1871 and following years he succeeded Sir Edgar Bowring as the Secretary to the Royal Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1861, and for a time filled a similar post for the Royal Horticultural Society. He will probably best be remembered by his designs for the Royal Albert Hall and the Museum Buildings at South Kensington. 'He also carried out several engineering works of minor importance for the disposal of the sewage of Stoke, Tunstall, and other towns. He was a most indefatigable inventor, having obtained no less than fifty-nine patents for cements, lime, and other kilns, for furnaces, for the treatment of sewage, &c. His improvements in firing pottery and other kilns have been extensively introduced throughout the Staffordshire Potteries, and his inventions have caused great saving in the cost of burning lime and cement. Probably his most important discovery was that of the controlling action of sulphuric acid upon quicklime, which was a fact previously unknown to chemists, and is destined, sooner or later, to revolutionize the method of employing lime for building purposes.
His inventions connected with the treatment of sewage, and the numerous careful investigations he undertook with respect to sewage disposal, occupied the whole of his leisure time during the last ten years of his life. He not only studied the best mode of dealing with water-carried sewage, but he also devoted great attention to the question of the profitable utilization of excreta. For the treatment of the former he proposed the calcination of the sludge resulting from the lime-process of precipitation, by which means a cement of fair quality is produced. This system he carried out successfully, both at Ealing and Burnley. In his experiments with excreta collected on the pail-system, he suggested the employment of the phosphate of magnesia; and works for the plan he advocated were erected at Blackburn under the company formed to carry out his inventions. By the latter process a manure of considerable value, termed “ammonic fimus,” is produced from pail-sewage.
General Scott was a Civil Companion of the Order of the Bath, a Fellow of the Royal, the Chemical, the Linnaean, and many foreign learned societies. He has written much on the sewage question, and received a Telford premium from the Institution for a Paper on “The Manufacture and Testing of Portland Cement,” prepared by him, in conjunction with Mr. G. R. Redgrave, which was read on the 11th of May, 1880 ; he having been elected an Associate of the Institution on the 3rd of February, 1874.