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Robert Wilson Dron

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Robert Wilson Dron (1869-1932)

1932 Obituary[1]


The death of Professor Robert Wilson Dron, which occurred on April 16 at his home in Glasgow, removes a well-known figure from Scottish mining circles. For many years prior to his appointment to the James S. Dixon Chair of Mining in the University of Glasgow, in January, 1923, Professor Dron had practised as a consulting mining engineer in Glasgow. He was born in Glasgow on March 7, 1869, and received his general education at Glasgow Academy and at Earnethill School. His practical training began in 1884, when he entered the works of Messrs. Alexander Chaplin and Company, mechanical engineers. From 1886 to 1889 he continued his training under Mr. John Reid, mining engineer, of Glasgow, finally serving a year under Mr. John Watson, colliery owner. Subsequently, he acted as surveyor for a number of Scottish collieries. Among other work, he assisted Messrs. Foreman and McCall on surveys for the Muisbirk, Mauchline and Dalmellington Railways. In 1896, he inspected mines in Montana, U.S.A., returning to North America two years later to inspect mines in Ontario, British Columbia, and various parts of the United States. During the interval between these visits he gave evidence before the House of Commons on the Kilpatrick Dock Bill, and also reported on coalfields in Wales and Scotland.

Commencing practice as a consulting mining engineer in Glasgow in 1901, the succeeding twenty years found Mr. Dron actively engaged in numerous parts of the world. In addition to acting as consulting engineer for a number of collieries in Scotland and in England, he inspected and reported on copper mines in the Caucasus and on copper and iron mines in Scotland and in Ireland. In 1905, he proceeded to Germany to visit, and report on, works engaged in the manufacture of sand-lime bricks. Later, he visited Erance to view various systems of hydraulic stowing in mines, and on his return, in 1909, he installed plant for this purpose at various Soottish collieries. After a brief visit to Nova Scotia to inspect' mines in that province, he became engaged on the laying out of railway sidings and other works at Manor Powis Colliery, Stirling, in 1910, and performed similar work at the Braehead and Langsheath Collieries, and at Jerviston Colliery, in 1912. Much of the year 1911 was spent in inspecting and reporting on iron mines in Spain. During the European war, Mr. Dron undertook special investigations on behalf of Messrs. D. Colville and Sons, Limited, and the Ministry of Munitions, -relating to Soottish coking ooals. In 1920 he inspected and reported on the coal-fields of Spitzbergen.

As already stated, Mr. Dron was appointed Professor of Mining in the University of Glasgow in 1923, the Chair having been vacant since the death of Professor Latham in 1917. His wide practical experience and his great knowledge of the economic as well as the technical problems confronting Scottish collieries made him a particularly efficient teacher. He took great interest in his students, and not only helped them to secure practical training in mines during their vacations, but made sure that as much ground as possible was covered during these necessarily short periods of training. Professor Dron, who was a Master of Arts of the University of Glasgow, became an associate-member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on April 2, 1901, and a full member on January 23, 1923. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. As long ago as 1888 he became a member of the Mining Institute of Scotland, and was elected president on four occasions, the last being in 1931. He was for many years a member of the Council of the Institution of Mining Engineers, and had been chairman of the Finance Committee since 1916. Last year he was elected president of the Institution, and was serving in that capacity at the time of his death. He became a Fellow of the Surveyors’ Institution in October, 1920. In addition to numerous contributions to the transactions of various mining and technical institutions, Professor Dron published a book entitled Coalfields of Scotland, in 1902, and this was for many years regarded as a standard work on the subject."

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