Elgar, Francis

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. April 1845 Portsmouth, England
d. 16 January 1909 Monte Carlo, Monaco
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English naval architect and shipbuilder.
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Elgar enjoyed a fascinating professional life, during which he achieved distinction in the military, merchant, academic and political aspects of his profession. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed as a shipwright to the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth but when he was in his late teens he was selected as one of the Admiralty students to further his education at the Royal School of Naval Architecture at South Kensington, London. On completion of the course he was appointed to Birkenhead, where the ill-fated HMS Captain was being built, and then to Portsmouth Dockyard. In 1870 the Captain was lost at sea and Francis Elgar was called on to prepare much of the evidence for the Court Martial. This began his life-long interest in ship stability and in ways of presenting this information in an easily understood form to ship operators.
In 1883 he accepted the John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture at Glasgow University, an appointment which formalized the already well-established teaching of this branch of engineering at Glasgow. However, after only three years he returned to public service in the newly created post of Director of Royal Dockyards, a post that he held for a mere six years but which brought about great advances in the speed of warship construction, with associated reductions in cost. In 1892 he was made Naval Architect and Director of the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company in Glasgow, remaining there until he retired in 1907. The following year he accepted the post of Chairman of the Birkenhead shipyard of Cammell Laird \& Co.; this was a recent amalgamation of two companies, and he retained this position until his death. Throughout his life, Elgar acted on many consultative bodies and committees, including the 1884 Ship Load Line Enquiry. His work enabled him to keep abreast of all current thinking in ship design and construction.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS. FRSE. Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.
Bibliography
Elgar produced some remarkable papers, which were published by the Institutions of Naval Architects, Civil Engineers and Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland as well as by the Royal Society. He published several books on shipbuilding.
FMW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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