Sir John Graham Kerr & the Mid Scotland Ship Canal

Sir John Graham Kerr

Sir John Graham Kerr (1869-1957) is best known as Regius Professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow from 1902-1935. With a strong sense of public duty, he resigned his chair in 1935 to become Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities, a post which he held until the constituency’s abolition in 1950.

The University of Glasgow Archive Services have held his archive collection since 1963 when it was passed to us from the Zoology Department. The Graham Kerr collection reflects his varied career and consists mainly of correspondence on his major interests – zoology, education, war camouflage and the Mid Scotland Ship Canal scheme.

Within this rich archive collection are 250 files concerned with the proposed Mid-Scotland Ship Canal of which he was a strong supporter.  There are numerous copies of reports and papers of the Mid-Scotland Ship Canal National Association.

Report by Sir WG Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd on the project for a ship canal between the Forth and Clyde via Loch Lomond (Ref: DC 006/916)

Report by Sir WG Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd on the project for a ship canal between the Forth and Clyde via Loch Lomond
(Ref: DC 006/916)

When the Graham Kerr collection catalogue was made available online (DC006) it prompted the gift of some Mid-Scotland Ship Canal engineering drawings (Accn 1775) created by Armstrong Whitworth in 1917 by someone who had found them in a skip. They are beautiful works and provide a great insight into how Scotland’s landscape might have changed had the work been undertaken.

View of Mid Scotland Ship Canal as seen from Stirling, c.1917 (GUAS Ref: Accn 1775/1/17)

View of Mid Scotland Ship Canal as seen from Stirling, c.1917 (GUAS Ref: Accn 1775/1/17)

The drawings and reports have been used in a programme about radical civil engineering projects as part of the BBC 4 series Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain. The programme will be screened on Monday 19th September at 9pm and we’ll be tweeting along with it @GUArchives and using the hashtag #unbuiltbritain. We’ll also be tweeting images of the drawings over the next 3 days in the build up to the programme. Until Monday a sneak peek of the programme Unbuilt Britain: Great Engineering Plans is available.



Categories: Archive Services (GUAS)

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