Bolton School Former Pupils

Wing Commander John Scott Taggart, OBE MC

Wing Commander John Scott–Taggart, OBE MC (Class of 1915)

John Scott-Taggart left Bolton School in 1915 and went on to become a British radio engineer, serving with distinction in both World Wars. He applied his significant technical expertise, first to radio and then radar, making considerable contribution to the war effort. Between the Wars, John became well-known as a writer of magazine articles and books on radio topics, gaining particular notability with the public for the numerous popular radio sets he designed.

It was during his time in the Boys’ Division that John discovered his aptitude for technology, something which helped to counteract the atmosphere of linguistic bias within School in the early 1900s. W. G. Lipsomb was Headmaster at the time, and it is understood that his predilection for encouraging individual talent must have assisted John’s development. When he was still a junior in 1908 he founded the Bolton Aero Club, and with another boy produced a scale model of Farman’s biplane for the Hobbies Exhibition of 1910. He then turned to radio, transmitting messages from one part of the School grounds to another for the next Hobbies Exhibition, and set up receiving stations at School camps.

John left School in 1915 to join the army. In 1918 he was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Military Cross for his wireless work during a crucial phase of the Battle of Lys. It was during the First World War, that John also wrote several technical articles which would be published throughout his life, the first of which was Wireless World published in 1917.

John went on to become the youngest fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1921, and read a paper on radio to the British Association. He was a pioneer of radio journalism, founding the Radio Press Ltd in 1922. Under his stewardship, the publisher issued a large number of books intended for the radio enthusiast. In addition to his writings for Radio Press he wrote a weekly column for the Daily Express.

In 1926 he sold his wireless publication business to Amalgamated Press. He read successfully for the Bar, and although fully qualified, never practised as a Barrister. Instead he learnt to fly his own light aeroplanes and developed his skills as an aviator, skills which were to come into practise serving his country in the Second Word War when he as a pilot with the R.A.F.  In the later stages of the war he was responsible for radar training, and then took over the maintenance and operation of radar stations over a large part of the country.

In his latest service years John was at the Admiralty, until he retired in 1959. A Fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers and a Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers he was awarded the OBE in 1975. He died a few years later in 1979.