James Holms Pollok Australia Cyprus Ireland Scotland South Africa

Biography of James Holms Pollok

James Holms Pollok was born in Govan in 1868. After a childhood spent experimenting with various chemicals (the result of one such experiment being the explosion of an outhouse), Pollok went to study Chemistry at the University of Glasgow. During his time as an undergraduate he was taught by both Professor Ferguson and Lord Kelvin. The latter communicated a paper by Pollok to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1886 entitled, “Comparison of the Volumes of Saline Solutions with the Sums of the Volumes of the Constituents”. In 1887 Pollok graduated BSc.

After graduating, Pollok stayed at the university to become a Junior Assistant to the Professor of Chemistry. During this time he improved a process for the extraction of gold by chlorination, a technique that he went on to patent. This patent led to him leaving his job at the university to work in industry. Pollok travelled as far afield as Johannesburg and Queensland to oversee the building of chlorination plants.

Pollok’s method was superseded by the invention of another process for the extraction of gold and so he returned to academia as the Assistant Chemist in the Royal College of Science, Ireland. He later became a Lecturer in Physical and Metallurgical Chemistry and would also teach physics and chemistry to students at the Royal Veterinary College. During the First World War he helped organise the Royal College of Science Voluntary Aid Detachment, a role which he continued until his death in 1915.

In 1905 Pollok received a DSc from the University of Glasgow for research on glucinum. Indeed he carried out extensive research on a variety of topics throughout his lifetime. His spectroscopic research was cut short because of damage to his health caused by rays from vacuum tubes. Pollok also worked on copper, completing a survey of copper deposits in Cyprus.


Other Online Resources


James Holms Pollok
Born 9 August 1868.
GU Degrees: BSc, 1887; DSc, 1905;
University Link: Graduate
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol 2)
Record last updated: 30th Mar 2015

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Australia Australia

Cyprus Cyprus, No Region

Ireland Ireland

Scotland Scotland

South Africa South Africa, Johannesburg

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