Turbulayr Products Ltd

Professor William Oliver B.Sc. (Edin.), A.M.I.C.E., F.R.S.E.

Professor Oliver, who died suddenly on 19 November 1962, was born at Edinburgh in 1885 and educated at George Watson’s College, and subsequently at the University of Edinburgh where he graduated B.Sc. (Engineering) ‘summa cum laude’. He served his apprenticeship with Bruce Peebles & Co. Ltd., electrical power plant engineers, and returned there after completing his degree to take up a post in the Electrical Design Department. Two years later he was moved to the Sales Department, rising to Chief Sales and Contract Manager. In 1919, Professor Oliver was appointed to the part-time Lectureship in Organization of Industry and Commerce which was instituted in that year, following a gift of £15,000 to the University from members of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Edinburgh Merchant Company, Leith Chamber of Commerce, Leith Ship-Owners’ Society, the Society of Accountants in Edinburgh, and the Institute of Bankers in Scotland.

In 1924 the University Court were of opinion that the educational value of the subject of the Organization of Industry and Commerce had been sufficiently demonstrated to justify the elevation of the Lectureship to the rank of a part-time Chair, to which Professor Oliver was appointed in 1925. He held this post until his retirement in 1953. Meanwhile he had joined the electrical contracting firm of Mitchell Graham & Co. Ltd., of Edinburgh, as Manager and Director. In 1938 he founded the firm of Turbulayr Products Ltd., Edinburgh, engineers and sheet metal workers, specializing in stainless steel fabrication. Professor Oliver was the inventor of the patent ‘Aeratone’ therapeutic bath for municipal baths, clinics, hospitals, sports clubs, etc., and the patent Turbulayr dyeing machine for the textile industry.

During the thirty-three years in which Professor Oliver was in charge of the Department of Organization of Industry and Commerce, important developments took place. The subject, originally confined to the degree of Bachelor of Commerce, was added to the curricula of the degrees of B.Sc. in Engineering, Technical Chemistry and Mining and the certificates and diplomas of Social Study, Administrative Law and Practice, and Public Administration.

During World War II, Professor Oliver took on extra responsibilities as Convener of the University Works Committee, including maintenance, reconstruction and new construction of university buildings and safe disposal of university treasures and emergency stocks of scientific equipment, materials, etc.

Condensed and adapted from an obituary written by Professor Oliver’s immediate successor as Professor of Organization of Industry and Commerce, Professor Norman C Hunt, published in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Yearbook for 1964.

Professor Oliver lived for many years at Netherby Road.

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