School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

The University of Edinburgh

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On 11 August 2006 in the Raeburn Room, Old College, a reunion was held of those who graduated with an MA in Honours Geography in 1950.

Thirteen graduates attended, including one from Newfoundland (Alan Macpherson), along with eight spouses, while nine other graduates sent apologies as they were unable to attend. The Group was very pleased to welcome Professor Mansell Prothero, Emeritus Professor of Liverpool University, who started his academic career in Edinburgh with this group. Unfortunately Mrs Elspeth Collins, daughter of Professor A.G. Ogilvie, our Professor (and the first Professor of Geography at Edinburgh), was unable to attend.

The group was the largest group to graduate in Honours Geography until the 1960s, as the group comprised men and women returning after service in World War II and a number straight from school.

The day was mainly an opportunity to exchange news and views. Between coffee and lunch, Professor Charles Withers, Head of Institute, spoke about the current situation in the University and about the forthcoming celebrations in the academic year for the Centenary of Geography in the University. This was followed by Professor Withers asking questions about some of our lecturers, the technical staff and our course, which included a year’s geology with Professor Arthur Holmes and accommodation in the former department in High School Yards. It was agreed that field weeks which involved the whole year had linked us all together.

The group ishoping to hold another reunion during the Centenary celebrations in. Thanks were expressed to Professor Withers, the Alumni office and the caterers Edinburgh First for their contribution to yet another successful reunion.

The graduates who attended were: John Barclay, John Bartholomew, Jean Burnside (née Callum), Ann Cantley, Service Farrant, Ken Ferguson, Charles Grant, Alan Macpherson, Pat Perkins (née Warren), Allan Rodger, Marion Rodger (née Nicolson), Meredyth Somerville (née Lawrence) and Bill Urquhart.

The photo shows (in the foreground), left to right, John Bartholomew (of the famous Bartholomew map-making firm), Ginette Bartholomew and (with the tea cup raised) Alan Macpherson (formerly Professor of Geography at St John’s, Newfoundland).

[Since this reunion, 1950 graduates, Edinburgh geographers and cartographers and geographers world-wide will be saddened to learn of the death, on January 16, 2008, of John Bartholomew. A short obituary of him appears below.]

John Bartholomew: Edinburgh Geography Graduate, Cartographer and Publisher

Members of the University of Edinburgh geographical community and the worlds of geography and of cartographic publishing more generally will be sad to learn of the death of John Bartholomew. John was a graduate of the 1950s Honours Class in Geography. He was born, in Edinburgh, on 15 January 1923 and died in that city on 16 January 2008.

John Bartholomew. Picture: Courtesy Gordon Wright

John Christopher Bartholomew was, with his brothers, Peter and Robert, effectively the last generation of the Edinburgh cartographic family to run the business of John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. John Bartholomew & Son Ltd traces its roots back to George Bartholomew, born in 1784, an engraver apprenticed to Daniel Lizars in Edinburgh in 1797, and whose work covered engraving a map of Edinburgh of 1825.

When eldest brother John took over as cartographic director, the business was already a world leader, supplying maps and atlases to a global market. He took over as editor of the Times World Atlas from his father, also John, when company output included productions whose popularity never masked their scholarliness – Reader's Digest Atlas, Bartholomew's Concise Atlas, gazetteers and many school atlases.

John Bartholomew was an academic and an explorer as well as a leading publisher. He had a fascination for the natural sciences that lasted throughout his life. Astronomy, meteorology, geology and oceanography formed for him the wider bounds of his beloved geography. He was, like his father and grandfather before him, President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and he took active roles in a great many societies and organisations, and retained interest in the John Bartholomew Award for Small-Scale Mapping, now sponsored by Collins Bartholomew.

The family through the company created an extensive reference library, with source information on atlases, maps and gazetteers of their own as well as those from rival UK and foreign publishers. Items from this John Bartholomew Collection were in the 1920s generously donated to the Geography department of the University of Edinburgh and are still housed in the Old Library, Institute of Geography. John was also a moving force behind the establishment in 1958 of the Map Library of the National Library of Scotland

He is survived by his wife, Ginette (née Achard-James), five sons, John Eric, Philip, Christopher, Patrick and Ivon; and 11 grandchildren.

This is extracted from the full obituary on John Bartholomew that appeared in The Scotsman on 22 January 2008: