1908-09: Sir Dugald Clerk

1908-09: Sir Dugald Clerk

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Biography 1932 Obituary:
Clerk, K.B.E., was one of the pioneers in the development of the internal-combustion engine and achieved world-wide fame through his discoveries and inventions in connexion with it.

He built his first gas-engine at his father's works in 1876. In this engine an explosion compressed air into a reservoir and caused a partial vacuum in the explosion chamber and the vessel connected with it. At this period he had been engaged in academic work.

He was born in Glasgow in 1854 and first trained in his father's works, which he entered in 1868, and later as a pupil with Messrs. H. O. Robinson and Company of Glasgow. He then studied chemistry and physics at the Andersonian College, Glasgow, and Yorkshire College, Leeds, and was later appointed assistant lecturer under Professor T. E. Thorpe at the latter college. Subsequently he returned to Glasgow and was appointed assistant to Dr. J. E. Mills.

While engaged on the experimental work of his first engine, however, he joined Messrs. Thomson, Sterne and Company, and during the ensuing twelve years was able to devote the whole of his time to research on the internal-combustion engine.

In 1886 he joined Messrs. Tangyes at Birmingham, where he continued this work, but two years later he commenced to practise as a consulting engineer in partnership with Sir G. Croydon Marks, M.I.Mech.E. (now Lord Marks). During the ensuing years Sir Dugald Clerk held a number of important appointments, which included those of scientific director of Messrs. Kynoch of Birmingham and of consulting engineer to the Patent Shaft and Axletree Company of Wednesbury.

In 1902 he became a director of the National Gas Engine Company of Ashton-under-Lyne and took an active part in the design of the engines which this firm produced.

From 1916 to 1918 he was director of engineering research to the Admiralty, and he served also on a number of other advisory committees during the War. For this service Sir Dugald was created a K.B.E. in 1917.

Amongst his many activities he displayed a great interest in the development of the motor vehicle, and he was a member of the technical committee of the Royal Automobile Club.

In 1915 he delivered the Thomas Hawksley Lecture before the Institution on "The World's Supplies of Fuel and Motive Power."

He first became a Member of the Institution in 1908 and served on the Council from 1911 to 1917, and he was a Vice-President from 1917 to 1919. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was elected President for the present year, but ill-health prevented him from taking office. In 1908 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and later became a Member of Council of that body.

He died on 12th November 1932. Under the terms of his Will a Bequest of £1,000 was left to the Institution.