Sir Robert Watson Watt
Brechin born Sir Robert Watson Watt, made the ground breaking discoveries which led to the invention of the radar. From an early age, Robert showed a great interest in science and appeared likely to follow in the footsteps of his distant relative, James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine.
Robert excelled at school and won a scholarship to University College, Dundee to study engineering from where he graduated with a BSc and was offered a position with Professor William Peddie, who introduced Robert to the seemingly endless possibilities of radio waves.
Robert was convinced that radio waves could be used to detect thunderstorms, providing planes with vital protection from the havoc caused by lightning, which led to the realisation that radio waves might also be able to detect aircraft. In the mid-thirties, Robert's work attracted the attention of the British Government, which was becoming increasingly aware of the threat posed by Nazi Germany.
With war looming, Watson-Watt’s discoveries lead to the design and installation of a radio defence system across the south and east coasts of Britain. Radar played a crucial part in the defeat of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain and Brechin basked in the glory of Robert's success. Although Robert modestly referred to his invention as 'a gadget', in recognition of his contribution to the discovery and development of radar, Robert Watson Watt was knighted in 1942.