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William Robertson


1825 - 1899

Engineer, industrialist and local politician. Born on the family croft of Balmore near Crathie in Aberdeenshire, Robertson soon moved to Dundee with his family. He joined Baxter Brothers, rising to become a leading draughtsman, and then manager of their engineering department. In 1856, in partnership with James Guthrie Orchar (1825-98), Robertson took over the Wallace Foundry and formed the company Robertson & Orchar, which quickly gained a reputation for its machinery for the spinning and weaving of jute and flax. The company became well known worldwide, exporting its machinery to Europe and India.

Robertson was elected to Dundee Town Council in 1869 and took on the responsibility of improving the supply of water to the city by adapting the Loch of Lintrathen to form a new reservoir. He served as Lord Provost of Dundee from 1875-78. In this role he played a prominent part in the opening of the ill-fated first Tay Bridge and was responsible for acquiring the Dundee Law as a park for the citizens of the town.

Robertson served as Chairman of the remarkable Matador Land and Cattle Company which invested heavily in the USA, and was also a member of the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum Board and the Dundee Royal Infirmary Board. He took a great interest in the High School of Dundee, personally contributing a new workshop and gymnasium. He also helped in the foundation of the Harris Academy in Dundee.

In 1894, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of the City of Dundee. Robertson died at his home, Balmore in Newport-on-Tay, and lies buried in Dundee's Western Cemetery.


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