From great inventions to life-changing medical discoveries, we take a look at the stories behind six great Scots from Edinburgh and around the Lothians.
John Lawson Johnston 1839 - 1900
John Lawson Johnston, the inventor of Bovril, was born in Roslin.
In 1870 Napoleon III was desperate to find sustenance for his troops fighting the Prussians and made an order for a million cans of beef. This was logistically almost impossible to supply, and the canny Johnston reckoned beef in some liquid form would be less expensive, easier to transport and more warming for the troops in winter conditions.
And so he developed Johnston’s Fluid Beef, a thick and salty beef extract that could be diluted with water.
It proved an instant hit, was given the name Bovril in 1886, and has sustained soldiers and sports fans out in the cold all over the world ever since.
The name Bovril comes from the Latin ‘bovis’, meaning cow, and ‘vril’, a powerful energy fluid dreamed up by the popular author Edward Bulwer-Lytton for his novel The Coming Race.
By 1968 Bovril owned enough beef ranches in Argentina to cover an rea equivalent to half the size of England.
Lawrence Ennis 1870 - 1938
Chief engineer who oversaw construction of the world’s widest long-span and tallest steel arch bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932. He was born in West Calder.
James Arnott Hamilton 1923 - 2012
Designer of the ultra-slim delta wing on Concorde, born in Penicuik 1923
READ MORE - Ten surprising Scottish innovations
George Cleghorn 1716 - 94
George Cleghorn was a medical pioneer, born in Edinburgh.
As an army surgeon in Minorca he discovered that quinine bark acted as a cure for malaria, endemic in Britain at the time and a severe threat to the British in India.
The discovery led to the invention of tonic water and indirectly to ‘gin and tonic’.
Robert Smith 1722 - 77
Architect, born in Dalkeith.
Smith designed and built three of America’s most iconic buildings: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall, the largest stone building in America on its completion in 1956, Caroebter’s Hall in Philadelphia, home of America’s oldest trade guild, and site of the First Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America, from September 5 to 26 October 1774, and Philadelphia’s eye-cathing Christ Church steeple.
He also built Benjamin Franklin’s house in Philadelphia.
Dougal Haston 1940 - 77 Mountaineer, born in Currie. Haston was the first man to climb the north face of the Eiger by the most direct route or direttissima (1966), the first to climb the south face of Annapurna (1970) and the first to climb Everest by the South-West face (1975). He died in an avalanche while skiing alone in Switzerland, garrotted by his own scarf.