BY no means the least interesting and suggestive spot in Glasgow is the room in the Clyde Trust offices in Robertson Street, from which, as from the bridge of an admiral's flagship, the Harbour-Master controls the smooth working of the whole maritime traffic of the Clyde, upon which so large a share of the prosperity of the country depends. Captain Robert White will have held the position of Harbour-Master at Glasgow for thirty-two years in April, 1910. Born at Southampton in December, 1837, he is a son of a late commander in the Peninsular and Oriental Company's service, and has therefore not only a personal, but a hereditary connection with the sea. He was educated first at a private school in Southampton, and afterwards for four years at Greenwich Naval College. He went to sea in 1852 in the service of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, where he remained for twenty years. Having seen a good deal of service trooping, carrying sick and wounded during the Crimean War, trooping during the Indian Mutiny, and afterwards on his station in the mail service of India, China, and Australia, he retired in 1872 to become Superintendent of Mercantile Marine and Examiner of Masters' Mates under the Board of Trade at Dublin. Then he came to Glasgow to fill his present onerous position, in 1878.
During his time at Glasgow the most marked event has been the transition from sail to steam as a motive power at sea. This has implied immense changes and developments in the harbour. When Captain White came to Glasgow the Clyde Navigation Trust possessed only one dock, that at Kingston. Since then have been made the vast Queen's, Prince's, and Rothesay docks, with dry docks, and cranes, railways, and other machinery among the largest and most efficient in the world. With all these developments the work of the Harbour-Master has of course grown immensely in size and complication.
In 1873 Captain White married a daughter of Lord Provost Law of Edinburgh, and he has a family of two sons and three daughters. He finds his recreation at home in reading, chiefly of travels and history, and his pleasure on holiday, when he can manage it, is a trip at sea. His most recent trip, in 1908, was a run to America with Mrs. White.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)