James Stuart

James StuartWhen James Stuart was appointed to the Chair of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics, he was allocated a half share in a lecture room with two small rooms behind, in the New Museums building on Free School Lane. Recognising the importance of a practical training for engineers, he then persuaded the University to give him a wooden hut to serve as a workshop for his twenty-five students.

This was done on the condition that he furnish and equip it at his own expense. Charles Darwin and Gladstone were among the early visitors to admire the new facility in 1878.

After running the workshop single-handedly for two years, the University eventually agreed to provide him with assistance. As the student numbers rose, Stuart begged for more space, and in 1882 the University allotted him two cottages in Free School Lane, with a foundry in the garden of one of them. This was a cause of great concern to the Professor of Botany over whose plants the foundry tended to smoke!