Henry Dyer (1848-1918)

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Henry Dyer was a Scottish Engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan in the latter half of the nineteenth century through his capacity as founding Principal of the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo. This web site charts Dyer's life describing his early childhood and education in Scotland, his work in Japan and his later life back in Scotland.

Henry Dyer's story is a fascinating one especially as he lived through times of great changes in Japan and Scotland. He was a prodigious writer who recorded and commented on many of the economic, technological and social changes he saw in both countries. He was also a man who held strong, often radical, views which made him an interesting, and at times controversial, character. He  did much to bring together the British and Japanese communities, each of whom he believed had much to learn from the other.

Henry Dyer was born in 1848 in Bellshill within the Parish of Bothwell in the West of Scotland.  His early years were spent in Bellshill and in the nearby village of Shotts. Around 1865 he and his family moved to Glasgow where he worked in a foundry, and attended Anderson's College in the evenings. Later he became a student at the University of Glasgow, where he obtained a degree in engineering. In 1872, Henry Dyer was invited to become the first Principal of the newly created Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo. He went to work in Japan in 1873 where he lived until he retired from his post as Principal of the College, about ten years later. On leaving Japan he returned to Glasgow where he contributed to the cultural, social and educational life of the city until his death in 1918. In recent years Henry Dyer has been remembered in a number of ways. In 1996 and 1997 the University of Strathclyde and the University of Tokyo held symposia in Glasgow and Tokyo, respectively, to commemorate Henry Dyer.  Much has been written about Henry Dyer and he has left behind a large number of publications.

These web pages are based on pages originally developed for the University of Strathclyde by some of the descendants of Henry Dyer's sister, Janet Dyer (photo on right). The considerable assistance of Shoji Katoh of Nagoya University in Japan and the late Olive Checkland in providing information for inclusion in these pages is gratefully acknowledged. Acknowledgements are also due to a number of other organisations and individuals for permission to use photographs and other artwork

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