He was born in England in 1863. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School. Around 1877 he began an apprenticeship with John Chadwick & Sons. In 1883 he won a Senior Whitworth Scholarship and then studied Mine Engineering at the Royal School of Mines in London under Prof Goodeve. He also studied Metallurgy and Assaying under Prof Roberts-Austin. He won the Bessemer Medal for his class.
He became Professor of Mechanics and Engineering at Heriot-Watt College in 1889. In 1908 he helped to design the new laboratories for his department, under the sponsorship of Lord Rosebery. He was consultant to the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland from 1900 to 1930. In 1906 he helped to organise the Motor Reliability Trials for the Scottish Automobile Club in which 84 cars took place: this was one of the first organised shows of vehicles in Britain.
In 1891 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers for the latter were George Dawson Preston, Arthur Walsh, Ernest Geoffrey Cullwick, and John F. Allen. In the same year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts. He served as their President 1921 to 1923. He lived at 19 Queen's Crescent in the Blacket district.
He later moved to 24 Mayfield Gardens.
In the First World War he was Engineer and Secretary to the Board of Management to the Munitions Committee for south Scotland.
He retired in 1930 and died on 19 October 1950.
- The Campbell Oil Engine (1900)
- Graces Guide: Richard Stanfield
- Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
- Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1895
- Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1910
- Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland November 1950
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