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Percy Archibald Hillhouse

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Professor Percy Archibald Hillhouse (1869-1942)

See also See also Percy Archibald Hillhouse: The Accident to K13

Born in Glasgow, Hillhouse studied Naval Architecture at the University and graduated BSc in 1888.

He worked as a draughtsman at the Pointhouse and Clydebank Shipyards before being appointed the first Professor of Naval Architecture at Tokyo Imperial University, 1898 to 1902.

He returned to Glasgow as Naval Architect to the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co in Glasgow from 1902, a post he held until 1937.

Hillhouse was a Vice-President of the Institution of Naval Architects and President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland from 1935 to 1937.


1942 Obituary [1]

IT is with deep regret that we have to record the sudden death, at his home, "Whitworth," Busby, near Glasgow, on Monday, September 28th, of Professor Percy A. Hillhouse, whose retirement from the John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture at the University of Glasgow was only announced a short time ago. Professor Hillhouse underwent a serious operation at the end of last year, from which he recovered; but he had not been too well for some time past, and his death took place following a seizure.

He was born at Derby on March 4th, 1869, and was the son of the late Archibald Hillhouse, who was the general goods manager of the Caledonian Railway Company in Glasgow. He was educated at the Partick Academy and the Albert Academy, and passed to the University of Glasgow, where he studied under the late Lord Kelvin. He had an outstanding academic career and was a prizeman in naval architecture, natural philosophy, and mathematics.

After graduating as B.Sc. in 1888 he became a draughtsman at the Pointhouse Yard of A. and J. Inglis, shipbuilders and engineers, and remained with the firm until 1893, when he entered the drawing-office at the Clydebank Shipyard, now John Brown and Co., Ltd.

In 1898 he accepted the appointment of Professor of Naval Architecture at the Tokyo Imperial University in Japan, a position which he continued to hold with distinction until 1902. During the time he was in Japan, Professor Hillhouse was responsible for the design of a number of ships, many of which came into prominence during the Russo-Japanese War.

In 1902 Professor Hillhouse returned to Scotland and was appointed assistant to the late Dr. Francis Elder, who was at that time chief naval architect with the [Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co|Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd]].

On the death of Dr. Elder, one of the most famous of Scottish shipbuilders, in 1909, Professor Hillhouse succeeded him as chief naval architect, and was at the Fairfield yard at Govan during its notable period of expansion under the late Sir Alexander Gracie. He was directly responsible for the design and construction of many famous naval and mercantile vessels, including submarines.

In the middle of the last war, in 1917, he nearly lost his life in the Gareloch trials of the steam submarine "K13," when, along with fourteen Fairfield officials, he was carrying out official trials of the submarine. It will be recalled that after one successful dive the "K13" failed to surface, and Professor Hillhouse was one of the forty-seven men who were finally rescued from the sunken submarine, after several days of rescue operations.

During the last war Professor Hillhouse served on many Government Committees, and he continued his work at the Fairfield yard until 1921, when he was appointed to the John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture in the University of Glasgow, as successor to the late Sir John Biles.

Apart from his university work, which was outstanding, Professor Hillhouse found time to write for many of our scientific institutions and technical societies. He was a Vice-President of the Institution of Naval Architects from 1928, and was President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland from 1935 until 1937. Besides his many contributions to the technical Press, he was the author of "Ship Stability and Trim," which was published in 1918. His deep knowledge and his charm of character endeared him to many friends, and his death at the age of seventy-three will be mourned, notably on Clydeside, where his work was mainly done, and by many students of naval architecture who attended his classes at the University of Glasgow.


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