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Records of Heriot-Watt College

Papers of James Cameron Smail

Sub-fonds Summary

Reference Code

GB 0582 HWC 3/1/53-57a



Extent and medium of the unit of description

0.5 metres

(1 box, 5 folders and 1 volume)

Existence and Location of Originals

This material is original.

Name of creator

Smail | James Cameron | 1880-1970 | principal of Heriot-Watt College

Biographical History

Biographical History

James Cameron Smail (1880-1970) was Principal of Heriot-Watt College from 1928-1950 and was responsible for a number of improvements and changes to the college. He oversaw the extension of premises in the Grassmarket and on Chambers Street in Edinburgh, he reinstated the chair of Physics and re established the department of Pharmacy and he founded the first properly organised College library. He was also responsible for the re-activiation of the Watt Club and was president of the club in 1949 and a trustee until his death.

He was educated at Daniel Stewart's College in Edinburgh and gained a degree in Engineering from Heriot-Watt College. Following this he studied at the Royal College of Science in London and at the London School of Economics. He was both Whitworth and Royal Exhibitioner. Prior to his appointment to the post of Principal of Heriot-Watt College in 1928, Smail was Inspector of Technical Education in Ireland and Director of Workshops of the Education Department of London County Council.

He was involved with a number of charitable and professional bodies including the Edinburgh Merchant Company and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, both of which awarded him honorary membership. He was Vice-President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and President of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts. He was also involved with the Association of Principals of Technical Institutions and the Association of Technical Institutions of which he was Chairman of Council.

He was awarded honorary LLD of the University of Edinburgh, honorary Fellowship of Heriot-Watt College and DSc in 1966 when the College was awarded university status. He was also awarded Honorary Companionship of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The papers of James Cameron Smail consist of:

  • correspondence and papers, pamphlets and addresses, (1928-1967)
  • correspondence and papers regarding the establishment of full-time Engineering Cadetship courses (1944-1955)




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Components of this sub-fonds