Mearns Ladies Probus Club

President, Mrs Anne Black, welcomed 20 members to the March meeting and introduced the speaker for the morning, Mr Steve Nicoll.

He gave an insight into the work and personal life of Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, a pioneer and significant contributor to the development of radar.

Born in Brechin, Sir Robert Watson-Watt’s early education was at a local primary school and then at the high school before being accepted to University College Dundee (then part of the University of St Andrews but became the University of Dundee in 1967). His early career saw him joining the Meteorological Office which was interested in his ideas on the use of radio for the detection of thunderstorms.

In the mid 1930s, Nazi Germany was rumoured to have a ’death ray’using radio waves capable of destroying towns, cities and people. The Air Ministry asked Sir Robert about the possibility of building their version of a death ray specifically to be used against aircraft. Although he concluded the device was impossible to construct, there was a possibility of radio waves being capable of detecting aircraft.

Experiments were carried out and a chain of fixed radar radio towers was erected along the east cost of England and Scotland which credited Sir Robert and his team with being fundamental to victory in the Second World War.

In recognition of his achievements, Sir Robert was knighted in 1942.

His work on radar has been used in many forms including advising Cunard on shipping radar and being used by the Police for detecting speeding motorists.

Despite his busy working life, Sir Robert was married three times.

He died in Inverness and is buried alongside his third wife in the churchyard of the Episcopal Church in Pitlochry.

On September 3, 2014, a statue of Sir Robert was unveiled in Brechin by HRH the Princess Royal.

Also that month he featured in a BBC2 drama with Eddie Izzard in the role.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Olive Henry.