Dr John Bruce Irving


Obituary from TDGNHAS, Series III, Vol. LXXX, p.176

Dr John Bruce Irving, Dr. Bruce Irving served as Treasurer of DGNHAS from 1998 until 2001 and thereafter was a member of Council until his untimely death on June 8th 2005. Dr. Irving was educated at Lenzie Academy and the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. At university he designed and constructed the first instrument for the measurement of the viscosity of liquids under very high pressure, which had very important applications in the oil industry. This required enormous skill and courage as the pressures involved were extremely high. His career took him to a research post at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride (1969–1978), to the post of Project Co-ordinator (later Information Sytems Manager) with Chloride Technical Limited in Manchester (1978–1985) and finally to the post of Director of Information Technology, Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council (1986–1996).

His interests outside his work were many and various. In 1985 he and his first wife Margaret were able to buy Bonshaw Tower which had been in Irving hands for many centuries and had once been owned by a grandfather many times removed. He loved being Laird of Bonshaw and devoted much time and energy to its preservation.

In his younger days he played rugby and his other active interests included mountaineering and gardening. His interest in genealogy led to him becoming Chairman and Life Member of Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society, while at a national level he became Chairman of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies. He was also a founder member of the British Sundial Society and a former President of the Ayrshire Philatelic Society and of the Dumfries Philatelic Society. Among his many other skills was great expertise in the care of long case and other clocks, and he used to regulate all the many clocks in Bonshaw Tower to very good effect.

A most successful Local History Week was held in May 2002 in Dumfries and Galloway under the wing of the DIG History Organisation of which Bruce Irving was the very energetic Chairman. The writer has very happy memories of a day in the company of Bruce Irving when we attended a follow up meeting at London University organised by the Historical Association. It emerged that Dumfries and Galloway had probably held the second largest group of events for Local History Week in the whole of the United Kingdom, thanks largely to Dr Irving’s drive and enthusiasm. Bruce Irving was also a member of the Friends of Annandale and Eskdale Museums. After serving as Vice-Chairman he was elected Chairman at the AGM of 2005 on the very day when he was told that his life was nearing its end. Just over a fortnight later he died at the age of 62. He left his wife Edith, two sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren. His first wife Margaret also survived him.

Dr. Bruce Irving will be remembered as a friendly affable and humorous person with many gifts of character and ability.

John H.D. Gair

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