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Firsts

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Scotland has its share of famous, and not so famous Firsts. Hopefully, some of the less well known will be commemorated on this page.

1497 First Chair of Medicine in the English speaking world established
The first Chair of Medicine in the English speaking world was established at the University of Aberdeen more than 500 years ago (1497).
1688 The first red herring ever cured in Great Britain was cured at Gourock
From the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.
May 10 1810 First saving bank in the world opened near Dumfries
Rev Henry Duncan opened the world's first savings bank in Ruthwell, near Dumfries.
1812 First fare paid in Great Britain for passage on board a steamer
On her first voyage down the Clyde, from Glasgow to Greenock, two gentlemen landed at Bowling off the PS Comet, and there and then paid the first fare in Great Britain for a passage on board a steamer. Source
1880 First flashing navigation buoy put into service by the Clyde Lighthouses Trust
Installed on Roseneath Patch, the buoy was powered by a self generating acetylene system. From Clyde Lighthouses by George Blake, 1956.
1905 First motorised fire appliance purchased
Aberdeen City Fire Brigade purchased Scotlandís first motorised fire appliance.
March 11 1912 First purpose built cinema in Scotland
Opened in Bo'ness in March 1912, the Hippodrome was designed by Matthew Steele on behalf of the proprietor, Louis Dickie who was a local film maker. It closed in 1975 and became a Bingo Hall until 1980 when it was closed completely. Recently £2,500,000 has been spent on refurbishing the whole building which will re-open to the general public on the 9th April 2009. Source
1915 First all reinforced concrete Power Station
Dalmarnock Power Station in Glasgow becomes the first in the UK to be built wholly of reinforced concrete (Sorry, no source, it wanted a fee to be identified!)
1933 First iron lung
Robert Henderson designed the first iron lung, in Aberdeen, in 1933.
May 8 1933 Scotland's first commercial airline
Scotland's first commercial airline started by captain Ted Fresson. Highland Airways inaugural flight flew from Inverness to Wick and Kirkwall on this date. Highland Airways was taken over by BEA in 1947. Still flown today, these have become Scotland's longest serviced air routes. It is also the longest continuous service in the UK and believed to be the longest in Europe and possibly the world. Source BBC News. Monument close-up:: OS grid NH6647 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square! Retrieved 22 October 2010 20:43:42.
1934 First call for an ambulance plane to attend Tiree
The request was made by a Dr Hunter in 1934. The aircraft landed "in a field near Hynish Bay" to pick up Alasdair Kennedy, Moss. Source
1939 Hatston, Orkney, first airfield built in Britain with hard runways
RNAS Hatston was the first airfield in Britain to be built with hard runways, by the Admiralty, during World War II. Source
September 26 1939 First British aircraft shoot down an enemy aircraft
Three Skuas operating from HMS Ark Royal in the North Sea are credited as the first British aircraft to shoot down an enemy aircraft in World War II, a Dornier Do 18 flying boat. Soon surpassed by the opposition, the Skua was withdrawn from front line service during 1941, and converted to training duties. No source.
October 16 1939
The first and last shots of World War II were fired off Dunbar, the first in October 1939 when the Luftwaffe attacked the major naval base at Rosyth and passed over Dunbar.
The last action of the war occurred a few miles off Dunbar, when despite the surrender, a German U-boat attacked and sank two merchantmen off the May Island before sailing home to surrender.

From Swords, Loaves and Fishes: A History of Dunbar by Roy Pugh.
1st Air Raid of World War II
Also (undated)
First bomb dropped on the UK in World War II: The first bomb dropped on the UK in World War II, dropped from a Dornier 17, is reported to have fallen near Sullom Voe in the Shetlands. The only casualty was a rabbit. Source
March 16 1940 First civilian bombing death of World War II
Outside of Stromness, the Brig o' Waithe has the dubious distinction of being the place where a stray bomb caused the first civilian death of World War II. Source
June 1940 First wartime fine for possession of a car radio
Car radios were banned during World War II. It was an offence for any person to have in his or her possession or under his or her control any radio receiving apparatus installed in any motor vehicle. Vince De Duca, a British Born subject, was fined £5 at Glasgow magistrates court in June 1940 - the first such fine to be issued. The day is unknown.
January 18 1944 First batch of Royal Naval helicopters landed at Greenock
Nine helicopters were ferried over from the US by HMS Thane, a lease lend auxiliary aircraft carrier. Her first port of call was Belfast where some planes and stores were unloaded. As she made her way to Greenock she was torpedoed but was towed to Greenock. Two of the nine helicopters did not survive the explosion, but seven were flown off to HMS Sanderling (Abbotsinch) Service and Repair yard.
February 28 1950 First live mid-air birth in an Air Ambulance
Took place over Scarba, just north of Jura, when Chrissie MacFarlane, Hynish, delivered her son Lachie with Tireeís district nurse Edith Read in attendance. Source
1954 First stern trawler
The first stern trawler Fairtry was built in Aberdeen in 1954.
September 25 1956 First Transatlantic Telephone Cable
The TAT-1 cable was laid between Gallanach Bay south of Oban and and Clarenville, Newfoundland, where the final connection was made. The cable carried 36, 4 kHz channels, later increased to 48 by reducing the bandwidth to 3 kHz, and connected the UK to the United States and Canada. Telegraph cables had been laid in the 19th century but this was the earliest transatlantic cable with voice carrying capability.
December 5 1958 First Subscriber Trunk Dialled (STD) telephone call
The first STD telephone call in the UK was made from a Bristol telephone exchange to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This was the first automatically connected long distance telephone call made in the country.
May 2 1959 First Scottish nuclear power station
Chapelcross nuclear power station opened, the first in Scotland.
June 20 1969 First North Sea crude oil announced
First announcement of the discovery of high-grade crude oil in the North Sea.
1977 First Volkswagen crosses Loch Ness
A specially prepared 10 year old, 100,000 mile VW 1200 Beetle crossed Loch Ness from east to west, completing the 1.5 mile crossing in about 30 minutes, piloted by Bill MacKay, a Volkswagen Motors parts manager. The return trip was prevented by an engine stoppage. Safer Motoring magazine August 1971.
1998 First unmanned aircraft lands at South Uist
The first-ever unmanned aircraft to cross the Atlantic landed at the South Uist missile range in 1998, having taken off from St Johns, Newfoundland.
August 2005 First fully autonomous UAV mission within UK airspace
BAe Systems flew the HERTI-1A, launched from a civilian-operated airfield in Campbeltown, Scotland, on the first fully autonomous UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) mission to take place in UK airspace. Source
May 2008 First commercial vessel enters Faslane shiplift
The MV Vega, Danish registered with a crew from Tuvalu entered the shiplift recently to pick up cargo for transfer to the Royal Naval Dockyard at Devonport. The shiplift was used as some of the equipment weighed 35 tonnes. Divers searched under the ship before her entry and a dog team searched the ship. Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard May 9, 2008.

An Aberdeen shoemaker was the first to fit rubber heels. (Undated)

The first person to can salmon was John Weir of Aberdeen.

The Robert Gordon University launched the UK's first degree course in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen developed the world's first underwater holographic camera, which can take three-dimensional pictures.

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