25.5.1847 Dumbarton/UK - 17.3.1887 Buenos Aires/AR
William Denny was educated at Royal High School in Edinburgh and then commenced at his father's shipyard an apprenticeship. He not only showed great aptitude for learning but also displayed an ability to create good relationships with all he came into contact with. In 1868 he was admitted a partner of the shipbuilding business of William Denny and Brothers, and some years later also of the associated engineering firm of Denny & Co. His deep-felt interest in what is now known as industrial relations led him in 1871 to set up a piecework system of payment in the shipyard. In 1880 Denny initiated an awards scheme for all company employees, with grants and awards for inventions and production improvements. After a severe bout of typhoid and an almost unacceptable burden of work, Denny left for South America in 1886 to attend a business with the La Platense Flotilla Company. In March the following year, while in Buenos Aires, he died by his own hand, a death that caused great sadness.
Denny imposed new methods in naval architecture, a special interest being progressive ship trials with a view to predicting effective horsepower. This led to his proposal to build a ship model testing tank beside the Dumbarton Shipyard. This scheme was completed in 1883 and was the third in the world, after the Admiralty tank in Torquay of William Froude (1810-1879) and the Royal Netherlands Navy facility in Amsterdam of Bruno Joannes Tideman (1834-1883). In 1876, the Denny shipyard started work with mild-quality shipbuilding steel on hulls for the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in India, and in 1879 the world's first two ships of any size using this weight-saving material were produced, the Rotomahana for the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand and the Buenos Ayrean for the Allan Line of Glasgow. From 1844 to 1962, the Clyde shipyard of Denny & Brothers produced over 1,500 ships and were accepted as the worldwide leaders in the science application to ship design and construction.
Anonymous (1887). William Denny FRS. Proc. Institution of Mechanical Engineers 9: 274- 276.
Anonymous (1887). William Denny. Minutes Proc. Institution Civil Engineers 89(3): 457-466. Anonymous (1887). William Denny FRS. Trans. Institution of Naval Architects 28: 455-458. P Anonymous (1996). Denny, William. Biographical dictionary of the history of technology: 204- 205, L. Day, I. McNeil, eds. Routledge: London.
Bruce, A.B. (1889). The life of William Denny, shipbuilder. Hodder&Stoughton: London. P
Denny, W. (1876). The worth of wages. Bennett: Dumbarton.

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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