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Records of Heriot-Watt College

Papers of Hugh Bryan Nisbet

Sub-fonds Summary

Reference Code

GB 0582 HWC 3/1/58-76



Extent and medium of the unit of description

3 metres

(18 boxes)

Existence and Location of Originals

This material is original.

Name of creator

Nisbet | Hugh Bryan | 1902-1969 | principal of Heriot-Watt University

Biographical History

Biographical History

Hugh Bryan Nisbet (1902-1969) joined Heriot-Watt College as a Demonstrator in the Department of Chemistry in 1921. He went on to become Professor of Chemistry in 1946 and Principal of the College in 1950. It was during his time as Principal that the University received its Charter, in 1966, and he became the first Vice-Chancellor.

He had perceived the significance of Fritz Pregl's work on microanalysis and travelled to Graz and Vienna for instruction in the new technique. Subsequently he gave pioneering experimental courses in microanalysis at Heriot-Watt College.

His first publications dealt with the reduction of nitro-compounds and he went on to study acridones, obtaining the degree of PhD (University of Edinburgh) in 1934.

His next investigation set the pattern for all his subsequent work. He had determined to follow research likely to secure the interest and support of local firms and his studies on ketones led him to work on pyrazoline local anaesthetics, the subject of his thesis for the degree of DSc (University of Edinburgh) in 1938.

At the onset of World War II he realised the importance of developing the study of fuels and he produced a number of papers over the next few years, being elected a Fellow of the Institute of Petroleum in 1945 and of the Institute of Fuel in 1952. His final investigation, which involved a mastery of the techniques of high efficiency fractionation, examined the bases present in Scottish shale oil and coal tar.

His period as Principal of Heriot-Watt College saw considerable physical expansion of the College's city centre premises including the 3rd extension to the Chambers Street building and the initiation of the Mountbatten Building in the Grassmarket.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The Papers of Hugh Bryan Nisbet consist of:

  • notes, papers and addresses (1913-1969)
  • undergraduate notebooks (1918-1921)
  • research and lecture notes (1927-1948 and 1954-1965)
  • research supervision correspondence and papers (1938-1947)
  • correspondence files relating to Teachers' Diploma and Associateship Courses in Commercial Subjects (1957-1964)
  • future of Heriot-Watt University mining department (1962-1965)
  • research activities within the college (1954-1965)
  • desalination project (1963-1964)
  • award of fellowship and postgraduate associateship of the college by thesis (1951-1964)
  • bestowal of honorary fellowships by the college (1951-1964)
  • correspondence with universities of Belguim (1958)

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Components of this sub-fonds