What the Scottish invented..


images (5)Many conversations I have with people on Word Press lead to many saying they have Scottish ancestry, and this is good. Many want to know more about their bloodline, so I am doing a blog on exactly what Scottish people invented throughout the centuries, we are an innovative race. I knew we invented the TV and Radio and the Bike, Lightbulb etc, but this is unreal. Proud I am, aye…

Some of it I did not even know, it is a big list, so here goes


Road transport innovations

Macadamised roads (the basis for, but not specifically, tarmac): John Loudon McAdam (1756–1836)

The pedal bicycle: Attributed to both Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813–1878) and Thomas McCall (1834–1904)

The pneumatic tyre: Robert William Thomson and John Boyd Dunlop (1822–1873)

The overhead valve engine: David Dunbar Buick (1854–1929)

Walkodile a multi-award winning invention by Elaine Stephen MBE, a primary school teacher from Aberdeenshire (launched in 2007)


Civil engineering innovations

Tubular steel: Sir William Fairbairn (1789–1874)

The Falkirk wheel: Initial designs by Nicoll Russell Studios, Architects and engineers Binnie Black and Veatch (Opened 2002)

The patent slip for docking vessels: Thomas Morton (1781–1832)

The Drummond Light: Thomas Drummond (1797–1840)

Canal design: Thomas Telford (1757–1834)

Dock design improvements: John Rennie (1761–1821)

Crane design improvements: James Bremner (1784–1856)



Aviation innovations

Aircraft design: Frank Barnwell (1910) establishing the fundamentals of aircraft design at the University of Glasgow



Power innovations

Condensing steam engine improvements: James Watt (1736–1819)

Coal-gas lighting: William Murdoch (1754–1839)

The Stirling heat engine: Rev. Robert Stirling (1790–1878)

Carbon brushes for dynamos: George Forbes (1849–1936)

The Clerk cycle gas engine: Sir Dugald Clerk (1854–1932)

The wave-powered electricity generator: by South African Engineer Stephen Salter in 1977

The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter (“red sea snake” wave energy device): Richard Yemm, 1998



Shipbuilding innovations

Europe’s first passenger steamboat: Henry Bell (1767–1830)

The first iron-hulled steamship: Sir William Fairbairn (1789–1874)

The first practical screw propeller: Robert Wilson (1803–1882) [citation needed]

Marine engine innovations: James Howden (1832–1913)

John Elder & Charles Randolph (Marine Compound expansion engine)



Military innovations

Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson two areas:

Field intelligence. Argued for the establishment of the Intelligence Corps. Wrote Field Intelligence:

Its Principles and Practice (1904) and Reconnaissance (1907) on the tactical intelligence of modern warfare during World War I.

Royal Air Force. Considered instrumental in the foundation of the British Royal Air Force.

United States Navy. Created largely by John Paul Jones, who was born in Kirkcudbrightshire.

Special Forces: Founded by Sir David Stirling and other Scottish Royal Marines, the SAS was created in World War Two

In the North Africa campaign to go behind enemy lines to destroy and disrupt the enemy. Since then it has been regarded as the most famous and influential special

Forces that has inspired other countries to form their own special forces too.



Heavy industry innovations

Coal mining extraction in the sea on an artificial island by Sir George Bruce of Carnock (1575). Regarded as one of the industrial wonders of the late medieval period.

Making cast steel from wrought iron: David Mushet (1772–1847)

Wrought iron sash bars for glass houses: John C. Loudon (1783–1865)

The hot blast oven: James Beaumont Neilson (1792–1865)

The steam hammer: James Nasmyth (1808–1890)

Wire rope: Robert Stirling Newall (1812–1889)

Steam engine improvements: William Mcnaught (1831–1881)

The Fairlie, a narrow gauge, double-bogie railway engine: Robert Francis Fairlie (1831–1885)

Cordite – Sir James Dewar, Sir Frederick Abel (1889)


Agricultural innovations

Threshing machine improvements: James Meikle (c.1690-c.1780) & Andrew Meikle (1719–1811)

Hollow pipe drainage: Sir Hew Dalrymple, Lord Drummore (1700–1753)

The Scotch plough: James Anderson of Hermiston (1739–1808)

Deanstonisation soil-drainage system: James Smith (1789–1850)

The mechanical reaping machine: Rev. Patrick Bell (1799–1869)

The Fresno scraper: James Porteous (1848–1922)

The Tuley tree shelter: Graham Tuley in 1979


Communication innovations

Print stereotyping: William Ged (1690–1749)

Roller printing: Thomas Bell (patented 1783)

The adhesive postage stamp and the postmark: James Chalmers (1782–1853)

Universal Standard Time: Sir Sandford Fleming (1827–1915)

Light signalling between ships: Admiral Philip H. Colomb (1831–1899)

The telephone: Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922)

The teleprompter: Frederick G. Creed (1871–1957)

The first working television, and colour television; John Logie Baird (1888–1946)

Radar: Robert Watson-Watt (1892–1973)

The underlying principles of Radio – James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)

The automated teller machine and Personal Identification Number system – James Goodfellow (born 1937)


Publishing firsts

The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1768–81)

The first English textbook on surgery (1597)

The first modern pharmacopaedia, William Cullen (1776). The book became ‘Europe’s principal text on the classification and treatment of disease’. His ideas survive in the terms nervous energy and neuroses (a word that Cullen coined).

The first postcards and picture postcards in the UK

The first eBook from a UK administration (March 2012). Scottish Government publishes ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum”



Fictional Characters

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, born in Kirriemuir, Angus

Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Long John Silver and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson



Scientific innovations

Logarithms: John Napier (1550–1617)

The theory of electromagnetism: James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)

The first theory of the Higgs boson or “God Particle” by Englishman Peter Higgs particle-physics theorist at the University of Edinburgh (1964)

Popularising the decimal point: John Napier (1550–1617) [64]

The world’s first oil refinery and a process of extracting paraffin from coal laying the foundations for the modern oil industry: James Young (1811–1883)

The Gregorian telescope: James Gregory (1638–1675)

The concept of latent heat: Joseph Black (1728–1799) [67]

The pyroscope, atmometer and aethrioscope scientific instruments: Sir John Leslie (1766–1832)

Identifying the nucleus in living cells: Robert Brown (1773–1858)

Hypnotism: James Braid (1795–1860)

Incandescent light bulb: James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862)

Transplant rejection: Professor Thomas Gibson (1940s) the first medical doctor to understand the relationship between donor graft tissue and host tissue rejection and tissue transplantation by his work on aviation burns victims during World War II.[72]

Colloid chemistry: Thomas Graham (1805–1869)

The kelvin SI unit of temperature: William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824–1907)

Devising the diagrammatic system of representing chemical bonds: Alexander Crum Brown (1838–1922)

Criminal fingerprinting: Henry Faulds (1843–1930)

The noble gases: Sir William Ramsay (1852–1916)

The cloud chamber recording of atoms: Charles Thomson Rees Wilson (1869–1959)

Pioneering work on nutrition and poverty: John Boyd Orr (1880–1971)

The ultrasound scanner: Ian Donald (1910–1987)

Ferrocene synthetic substances: Peter Ludwig Pauson in 1955

The MRI body scanner: John Mallard and James Huchinson from (1974–1980)

The first cloned mammal (Dolly the Sheep): Was conducted in The Roslin Institute research centre in 1996

The seismometer innovations thereof: James David Forbes

Metaflex fabric innovations thereof: University of St. Andrews (2010) application of the first manufacturing fabrics that manipulate light in bending it around a subject. Before this such light manipulating atoms were fixed on flat hard surfaces. The team at St Andrews are the first to develop the concept to fabric.

Tractor beam innovations thereof: St. Andrews University (2013) the world’s first to succeed in creating a functioning Tractor beam that pulls objects on a microscopic level

Macaulayite: Dr. Jeff Wilson of the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen.



Sports innovations

Main article: Sport in Scotland

Scots have been instrumental in the invention and early development of several sports:

Football (Soccer)

several modern athletics events, i.e. shot put[90] and the hammer throw, derive from Highland Games and earlier 12th century Scotland


Gaelic handball The modern game of handball is first recorded in Scotland in 1427, when King James I an ardent handball player had his men block up a cellar window in his palace courtyard that was interfering with his game.

Cycling, invention of the pedal-cycle

Golf (see Golf in Scotland)

Shinty The history of Shinty as a non-standardised sport pre-dates Scotland the Nation. The rules were standardised in the 19th century by Archibald Chisholm

Rugby sevens: Ned Haig and David Sanderson (1883)



Medical innovations

Pioneering the use of surgical anaesthesia with Chloroform: Sir James Young Simpson (1811–1870)

The hypodermic syringe: Alexander Wood (1817–1884)

Discovery of hypnotism (November 1841): James Braid (1795–1860)

Identifying the mosquito as the carrier of malaria: Sir Ronald Ross (1857–1932)

Identifying the cause of brucellosis: Sir David Bruce (1855–1931)

Discovering the vaccine for typhoid fever: Sir William B. Leishman (1865–1926)

Discovering insulin: John J R Macleod (1876–1935) with others

Penicillin: Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955)

General anaesthetic – Pioneered by Scotsman James Young Simpson and Englishman John Snow

Ambulight PDT: light-emitting sticking plaster used in photodynamic therapy (PDT) for treating non-melanoma skin cancer. Developed by Ambicare Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital and St Andrews University. (2010)

Discovering an effective tuberculosis treatment: Sir John Crofton in the 1950s

Primary creator of the artificial kidney (Professor Kenneth Lowe – Later Queen’s physician in Scotland)

Developing the first beta-blocker drugs: Sir James W. Black in 1964

Developing modern asthma therapy based both on bronchodilation (salbutamol) and anti-inflammatory steroids (beclomethasone dipropionate) : Sir David Jack in 1972

Glasgow coma scale: Graham Teasdale and Bryan J. Jennett (1974)

EKG [Electrocardiography]: Alexander Muirhead (1911)


Household innovations

The television John Logie Baird (1923)

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC: John Reith, 1st Baron Reith (1922) its founder, first general manager and Director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation

The refrigerator: William Cullen (1748)

The first electric bread toaster: Alan MacMasters (1893)

The flush toilet: Alexander Cummings (1775)

The Dewar flask: Sir James Dewar (1847–1932) ]

The first distiller to triple distil Irish whiskey:[113]John Jameson (Whisky distiller)

The piano foot pedal: John Broadwood (1732–1812)

The first automated can-filing machine John West (1809–1888)

The waterproof macintosh: Charles Macintosh (1766–1843)

The kaleidoscope: Sir David Brewster (1781–1868)

Keiller’s marmalade Janet Keiller (1797) – The first recipe of rind suspended marmalade or Dundee marmalade produced in Dundee.

The modern lawnmower: Alexander Shanks (1801–1845)

The Lucifer friction match: Sir Isaac Holden (1807–1897)

The self filling pen: Robert Thomson (1822–1873)

Cotton-reel thread: J & J Clark of Paisley

Lime cordial: Lauchlan Rose in 1867

Bovril beef extract: John Lawson Johnston in 1874

The electric clock: Alexander Bain (1840)

Chemical Telegraph (Automatic Telegraphy) Alexander Bain (1846) In England Bain’s telegraph was used on the wires of the Electric Telegraph Company to a limited extent, and in 1850 it was used in America.


Weapons innovations

The carronade cannon: Robert Melville (1723–1809)

The Ferguson rifle: Patrick Ferguson in 1770 or 1776

The Lee bolt system as used in the Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield series rifles: James Paris Lee

The Ghillie suit

The percussion cap: invented by Scottish Presbyterian clergyman Alexander Forsyth


Miscellaneous innovations

Boys’ Brigade

Bank of England <<HA HA .. devised by William Paterson

Bank of France devised by John Law

The industrialisation and modernisation of Japan by Thomas Blake Glover

Kirin Brewing Company founded by Thomas Blake Glover

Colour photography: the first known permanent colour photograph was taken by James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)

Safe tray invented by Alison Grieve


My god I thought my copy and paste function was going to break and my Microsoft word die!!!  That is some list.

If you ever need a good idea, go ask a Scottish Person 🙂



6 comments on “What the Scottish invented..

    • WOAH…
      Beautiful song….
      Saved for later use xx

      Still. If it wasn’t for US Scots, we would not be able to share this lovely song 🙂

      x lol


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