Archibald Barr

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Archibald Barr FRS[1] FRSE LLD (18 November 1855, Glenfield House, Paisley, Renfrewshire – 5 August 1931) was a Scottish scientific engineer, inventor and businessman. He was a co-founder of Barr & Stroud, and invented the Barr & Stroud Rangefinder.[2]


Archibald was born in Glenfield House in Abbey, near Paisley, the third son of Archibald Barr, a yarn merchant, and Jeanie Stirrat,[3] Barr was educated at Paisley Grammar School and apprenticed as an engineer to A F Craig & Co in Paisley before attending University of Glasgow to study engineering.[4]

In 1885 he married Isabella Young.

Barr first worked as assistant to James Thomson, the Regius Professor of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at Glasgow, a post Barr was to attain himself later in his career. He was subsequently appointed to the chair of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the Yorkshire College (since 1904 the University of Leeds).

Barr was a motoring enthusiast and as a member of the Scottish Automobile Club, he participated as an organiser of Scotland’s first motor car reliability trials in 1901. He also helped to form the Scottish Aeronautical Club in 1909, becoming its president, and was a promoter of Scotland’s first aviation meeting, held at Lanark in 1910. He served as President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1910-11. Barr was also a governor of the Royal Scottish National Institution for the care of those with learning difficulties.

He also gifted £8,000 towards the cost of a new organ for Paisley Abbey.

In 1898 he successfully campaigned for a new Chair in Electrical Engineering at Glasgow University. In 1901 he raised £54,000 to build and equip the James Watt Engineering Building at Glasgow University.[5]

Barr died at his home, Westerton of Mugdock, near Milngavie, near Glasgow, on 5 August 1931.

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