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John Scott (1830-1903)

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John Scott (1830-1903), AKA John Scott the youngest.

1830 Born in Greenock, son of Charles Scott and his wife Helen, nee Rankin

John and his brother Robert took over the yard established by his grandfather, which became Scott and Co and then Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co

c.1851 After serving an apprenticeship with his father, he became a partner at the age of 21

1856 John Scott Esq, engineer and shipbuilder, of Greenock, subscribed £25 to the Smith Testimonial Fund, commemorating the work of F. P. Smith in promoting the screw propeller.

1859 Partner in Greenock Foundry Co when it acquired the works of Scott, Sinclair and Co

1862 With his father, he acquired the bankrupt business of Scott, Sinclair and Co, which presumably became Greenock Foundry Co. Sold the Greenock (Westburn) yard, partly to Caird and Co and partly to McNab and Co of Greenock.

John Scott IV was effectively chief executive of Scott and Co and of the Greenock Foundry Co[1]

1866 Sequestration of the estates of Scott and Company, Shipbuilders in Greenock, and Charles Cunninghame Scott, Shipbuilder in Greenock, and John Scott, youngest, Shipbuilder, the Individual Partners of that Company, as partners, and as Individuals, and the said John Scott, youngest, as an Individual Partner of the Company, carrying on business in Greenock, as Engineers and Iron Founders, under the firm of the Greenock Foundry Company[2]

1866 retired from Greenock Foundry Co[3]

1881 John Scott 50, Shipbuilder, Marine Engineer, Shipowner, Forge Master, Employing 1427 Men 94 Boys 810 Women, lived in Greenock with Annie Scott 35, Robert L Scott 9, John H Scott 7, Frances A S Scott 4[4]

1898 Awarded Freedom of the City of London

1903 Died

1904 The Trustees of the deceased John Scott, C.B. and Robert Sinclair Scott were the sole Partners in Scott and Co, shipbuilders and engineers, and Greenock Foundry Co, engineers and iron founders, when these businesses were sold to Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co and subsequently the partnerships were dissolved[5]



1903 Obituary [6]

JOHN SCOTT, C.B., the well-known shipbuilder and engineer, died at his residence, Halkshill, Largs, on the 19th May, 1903.

He was born on the 5th September, 1830, at Greenock, the eldest son of the late Charles Cuningham Scott, of Halkshill, Largs, and was educated at Edinburgh Academy and the University of Glasgow, and served a regular apprenticeship as an engineer with his father’s firm, where many of the early Clyde ships, both for the naval and mercantile fleet, were built and engined.

In his twenty-second year Mr. Scott became a partner in the firm, and in 1868 he took the responsible position of head of the concern, retaining it until the end, in association with his brother, R. Sinclair Scott.

Being endowed with great progressive spirit, John Scott soon recognised the economy of higher steam pressures, and designed a two-cylinder engine to utilize a pressure of 125 lbs., and showed his confidence in its practicability by himself ordering about 1857 the construction of a steamer of about 650 tons, the Thetis, in which to experimentally test the problems associated with such an advance. The boiler used was of the Rowan type, with water tubes, the total power obtainable being 300 HP. The engine proved satisfactory and only consumed 1.018 lbs. per I.HP. per hour; but because of internal corrosion in the tubes, owing to chemical action, it was found necessary to withdraw the boilers after eighteen months’ service.

Mr. Scott proved his continued confidence in higher steam pressures by building a second set of machinery to work at 140 lbs., and, moreover, introduced the water-tube boiler into a corvette which he built for the French Navy. This vessel, completed in the early sixties, was the first in the French Navy to be fitted with compound engines. This application of the water-tube boiler and compounding system was the result of a proposal made by Mr. Scott to Mr. Dupuy de Lame, who was then head of the department. Mr. Scott was at the same time building engines for four small corvettes, under construction at the Woolwich and Deptford yards for the British Navy, and the Admiralty agreed to have fitted in one of them water-tube boilers and engines similar to those built for the French boat. This boiler may be said to have belonged to the same general type as the Thornycroft and Normand boilers. It was subsequently found impossible to ensure that the top of the boilers would be at least 1 foot under the load-line, a condition then enforced in steam vessels for the Navy, and the adoption of the water-tube boiler was deferred.

Mr. Scott, however, continued to work for the successful application of high pressures, and it was this that brought him into contact with Mr. Samson Fox, with whom he was closely identified for many years in connection with the development of the corrugated flue. For many years subsequent to 1878 Mr. Scott was Chairman of the Leeds Forge Company, and he was associated with Mr. Fox in carrying out the first really effective series of trials with circular furnaces to determine their strength. He also conducted at Greenock interesting tests with boilers which had been manufactured for the gunboats Sparrow and Thrush, built by his firm for the British Navy. It was on this subject that Mr. Scott contributed in 1889 his only Paper to the Institution of Naval Architects.’

The subject of this notice was closely identified with the successive stages in the development of the marine engine. He built some of the largest side-wheel engines made in the early years of steamship ranging up to 3,500 tons, and in 1866 the first vessels of the Ocean Steamship Company which performed the voyage to Shanghai round the Cape of Good Hope in 65 days, including calls on the China coast, the consumption of fuel being at the rate of about 2.25 lbs. per IHP., averaging about 20 tons per day.

Mr. Scott’s firm also built several of the Holt engines, and engined some of the later ships of the British fleet, including the battleships “Canopus” and “Prince of Wales,” and at the present time they have in course of construction a 10,700-ton cruiser-the 'Argyll' - which, with 21,000 HP., is to attain a sped of 22.25 knots. It may be mentioned that the firm were the first to build a warship on the Clyde - a sloop-of-war, the 'Prince of Wales,' constructed exactly one hundred years ago. A few years later came the steam frigate 'Greenock,' which was one of the first iron ships built for the British Navy. For the Eastern trade the firm have latterly built many notable ships.

Mr. Scott took great interest in politics, and on three occasions stood, unsuccessfully, as Conservative candidate for Greenock. He acted for many years as Deputy Chairman of the Harbour Trust of Greenock, and for 25 years as Chairman of the local Marine Board. Mr. Scott was a great lover of books, and the library he formed with skill and scholarly taste was one of the best private collections in Scotland. He was one of the original Members of the Institution of Naval Architects, of which he was elected a Vice-President in 1903, a Member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In early years he found his principal enthusiasm, outside of engineering, in the Volunteer movement, and in 1859 he raised two batteries of artillery volunteers; from 1862 he was Lieut.-Colonel of the Renfrew and Dumbarton Artillery Brigades, and although he relinquished active duty in 1894, he continued to be Honorary Colonel.

For his services in this connection he was created a Companion of the Bath in 1887. Yachting was, especially in later years, his favourite pastime. He was a member of most of the Scotch yachting clubs, and for many years Commodore of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club. He advanced the municipal. educational, and social interests of his native place ; but after all, his business absorbed the greater part of his enthusiasm, and he continued in harness almost to the end, although for some weeks he had begun to feel the infirmities of his 73 years.

Mr. Scott was elected a Member of the Institution on the 6th March, 1888.


1903 Obituary [7]



1903 Obituary.[8]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Scotts of Greenock - An Illustrated History By William Kane, Vincent P. Gillen
  2. London Gazette 7 December 1866
  3. Edinburgh Gazette 11 December 1866
  4. 1881 census
  5. The Edinburgh Gazette 10 May 1904
  6. 1903 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  7. Engineering 1903 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index
  8. The Engineer 1903 Jan-Jun: Index: Miscellaneous