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Sir James Arnot Hamilton


1923 - 2012

Aircraft designer. Born in Penicuik, Hamilton attended Lasswade Secondary School and then Penicuik High School, in its first year of opening. He went on to read engineering at the University of Edinburgh. On graduation he began work with the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment in Helensburgh, designing anti-submarine weapons and seaplanes. He was moved to Suffolk (England) and appointed Head of Flight Research in 1945. Hamilton transferred the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, where he was appointed Head of the Projects in 1964. Two years later he became Project Director for the Anglo-French Jaguar fighter aircraft and was then appointed Director-General for the British side of another aviation project undertaken jointly with the French; namely the Concorde passenger jet, taking responsibility for designing the wing.

Hamilton moved into the inner circles of the civil service as Deputy Secretary for Aerospace in the Department of Trade and Industry (1971-73), Deputy Cabinet Secretary (1973-76) and then Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education and Science (1976-83). He was awarded an MBE in 1952 and was knighted in 1978.

After retiring from Whitehall, Hamilton took his skills onto the Boards for several British companies and worked to further engineering education. He served as Vice-President of the Council of Reading University and Vice-Chairman of Council at University College London.

He died in Winchester (Hampshire). The Science and Technology wing of Penicuik High School is named in his honour.


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