McNeill, Sir James McFadyen

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 19 August 1892 Clydebank, Scotland
d. 24 July 1964 near Glasgow, Scotland
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Scottish naval architect, designer of the Cunard North Atlantic Liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
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McNeill was born in Clydebank just outside Glasgow, and was to serve that town for most of his life. After education at Clydebank High School and then at Allan Glen's in Glasgow, in 1908 he entered the shipyard of John Brown \& Co. Ltd as an apprentice. He was encouraged to matriculate at the University of Glasgow, where he studied naval architecture under the (then) unique Glasgow system of "sandwich" training, alternately spending six months in the shipyard, followed by winter at the Faculty of Engineering. On graduating in 1915, he joined the Army and by 1918 had risen to the rank of Major in the Royal Field Artillery.
After the First World War, McNeill returned to the shipyard and in 1928 was appointed Chief Naval Architect. In 1934 he was made a local director of the company. During the difficult period of the 1930s he was in charge of the technical work which led to the design, launching and successful completion of the great liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Some of the most remarkable ships of the mid-twentieth century were to come from this shipyard, including the last British battleship, HMS Vanguard, and the Royal Yacht Britannia, completed in 1954. From 1948 until 1959, Sir James was Managing Director of the Clydebank part of the company and was Deputy Chairman by the time he retired in 1962. His public service was remarkable and included chairmanship of the Shipbuilding Conference and of the British Ship Research Association, and membership of the Committee of Lloyd's Register of Shipping.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order 1954. CBE 1950. FRS 1948. President, Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland 1947–9. Honorary Vice-President, Royal Institution of Naval Architects. Military Cross (First World War).
Bibliography
1935, "Launch of the quadruple-screw turbine steamer Queen Mary", Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects 77:1–27 (in this classic paper McNeill displays complete mastery of a difficult subject; it is recorded that prior to launch the estimate for travel of the ship in the River Clyde was 1,194 ft (363.9 m), and the actual amount recorded was 1,196 ft (364.5m)!).
FMW

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

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