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Engineering notes of Dr. Russell A. Leather, Edinburgh University student, graduating 1952

Identifier: Coll-1421

Scope and Contents

The content of the 1st and 2nd year engineering note-books (laboratory books) of Dr. Russell A. Leather reflect the wide approach in studies which covered mechanical devices, steel structures and electrical technology. The books include graphwork, drawings, and photographs of late-1940s laboratory equipment at Kings Buildings (1948-1949). Photographs feature the 'Riehle' testing machine', the 'Adie' cement testing machine, a torsion testing machine, the 'Ambler' compression machine, the 'Olsen' testing machine, the 'Vickers' hardness testing machine, a tensometer machine, a petrol engine and dynamometer, a gas engine, a 'Leyland' high speed oil engine, the 'Heenan and Froude' hydraulic dynamometer, an air compressor, and a 'Paxman' steam engine.

Apparently, experiments involving the 'Paxman' steam engine would be an all-day affair, beginning with start-up of the engine in the morning. The coal fed to the engine would be carefully weighed, and the calorific value of the coal had to be known. Horsepower would have to worked out; measurements taken of energy in and energy out.

The note-books consist of:

  1. 1 x Heat and Engines Lab. - 1st and 2nd year Engineering, 1948-1950 - Baxendine's Science Note Book - R.A.Leather
  2. 1 x Strength of Materials - 1st and 2nd year Engineering, 1948-1950 - R.A.Leather
  3. 1 x General Engineering - 1st year Engineering, 1948 - and, Machines - 2nd year Engineering, 1949 - R.A.Leather
  4. 1 x Electrical Technology - 2nd year Engineering, 1949 - R.A.Leather


  • Creation: 1948-1950


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of any visit.

Biographical / Historical

Russell A. Leather was born in 1924. He was educated at George Heriot's School and studied at Edinburgh University from 1948. His university education was delayed by wartime and his army service as a Captain in the Far East with the Royal Corps of Signals, 1942-1947/48.

As in other instutions in the UK, studying at Edinburgh University in the immediate post-war period was challenging. Food and clothing were severely rationed and new equipment was in short supply. Test equipment and other mechanical machinery were of pre-war standard, but although out-dated it was capable of producing decent results. Although Leather studied electrical engineering, the first year curriculum was aimed at providing students with a broader engineering background. Mechanical devices, steel structures and electrical technology were all covered.

In the pre-war period, the emphasis had been on civil engineering but this changed in the late-1940s when, under Professor Arnold, greater emphasis was placed on mechanical engineering. And, later on, under Professor Farvis, an electrical engineering curriculum was developed and this included electronics which, though still hollow state, would soon be dominated by solid state electronics. At Edinburgh University, electrical power engineering relied on equipment at the then Heriot-Watt College.

After his studies, Leather worked on and researched into radar with Ferranti in Edinburgh and in Dundee. During his time with Ferranti he took out around 25 patents. Latterly he was Chair of the Gannochy Trust for seventeen years until 2008, and had been a Trustee for 40-years.

Russell A. Leather BSc Hon LL.D. CEng. FIEE MIMechE visited Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections, in November 2012 to donate his first and second year engineering note-books.


4 Volumes

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired November 2012. Accession no: E2012.49

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 15 January 2013

1st and 2nd year Engineering notes of Dr. Russell A. Leather (b. 1924), Edinburgh University student, graduating 1952
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379