Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Blyth

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James Blyth (1839–1906), electrical engineer and university teacher

1839 Born on 4 April 1839 at Marykirk in Kincardineshire, the son of John Blyth an innkeeper and small farmer, and his wife, Catherine.

1861 Graduated from Edinburgh University

1862 appointed to teach mathematics at Morison's Academy, Crieff,

1870 was invited to participate in establishing classes at the new George Watson's College in Edinburgh.

1871 Married Jessie Wilhelmina Taylor (1842–1923)

1880 Appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Anderson's College, Glasgow, where he taught for the rest of his life. He also maintained an active research programme, with particularly interest in the generation and storage of electricity from wind power.

1885 Started to explore windmill construction

1887 he constructed a "small windmill for supplying electric light by means of storage cells" in the garden of his holiday cottage at Marykirk. It had a 33 foot windshaft, four arms of 13 feet with canvas sails, and a Burgin dynamo driven from the flywheel using a rope. Unlike Charles Brush's wind turbine, developed at about the same time, Blyth's design lacked an auto-brake.

1891 Patented a "wind engine"

1895 he licensed Mavor and Coulson to construct a modified turbine in the grounds of the Montrose asylum using a vertical axis design, which ran for 27 years, supplying storage cells to light the asylum.

1906 Died at home in Glasgow

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography, ODNB