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The first chair of its type in the world, the Young Chair of Technical Chemistry was established in 1869 as the result of a munificent gift by James 'Paraffin' Young (1811-1883). Young, a former student and assistant to Professor Thomas Graham at Anderson's University, made his fortune from the Scottish shale oil industry and other industrial processes, and was a major benefactor of the University. He became a Trustee in 1858 and served as President of Anderson's University from 1868 to 1877. The proposal to found a Chair of Technical Chemistry met fierce opposition from the existing chemistry professors, who feared that the establishment of the new chair would result in a decline in student numbers attending their own classes. The Young Laboratory was housed in a building adjoining the Andersonian, and was equipped to the best modern standards.
The Young Chair was technically independent of Anderson's University until 1887, when it was absorbed into the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College.