Basic Biographical Details

Name: George Alexander Kerr
Designation: Architect
Born: 1865
Died: 13 November 1927
Bio Notes: George Alexander Kerr was born in Lockerbie in 1865 and was articled to Frank James Chambers Carruthers in Lockerbie c.1882, remaining with him as a draughtsman for eighteen months until March 1889. Carruthers described him as 'a good accountant and penman, and an excellent calculator of quantities' and reported that his experience with him had 'a much greater variety of work than he would have had in a city office … farm buildings on various estates including hunting stables etc.'

Armed with other testimonials from local solicitors and bankers, Kerr obtained a place in the office of Andrew Scobie in Dunfermline who became a lifelong friend. After five months he moved to Haddo Estate Office in Aberdeenshire in August 1889 as assistant clerk of works to prepare plans of the Haddo Estate and design new farm buildings. Although he was latterly in full charge as clerk of works his duties there ended in July 1890. An approach from the Earl of Aberdeen to W W Robertson seeking a place for him in H M Office of Works was unsuccessful but a testimonial from the Earl of Aberdeen's father and perhaps the intervention of the Earl himself secured a place in the office of J T Wimperis & Arber, London, architects to the Invercauld estate and architects of the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen's house at 27 Grosvenor Square, London in 1886-88, where he remained until March 1893. A letter to Kerr from Aberdeen records that Wimperis had informed him 'in very cordial terms of their satisfaction with your work'.

At that stage Kerr planned to commence practice in Dumfries, but found the situation there unpromising. Later in the same year he moved to Alloa as assistant to Adam Frame and it was there he set up practice on his own account in 1896 from his house at 30 Mar Street. The practice had prospered sufficiently for Kerr to build semi-detached houses in Claremont in 1898, one for his own occupation, but a bout of pneumonia and consequent loss of earnings resulted in both houses being sold.

About 1902 Kerr took William McCulloch into partnership. McCulloch was born in c.1873 and was articled to John Kinross for three years from September 1889 and remained as assistant until July 1896, studying at Heriot-Watt and 'School of Art' probably the School of Applied Art. From 1896 he was employed as assistant and clerk of works to other architects and when he passed the qualifying exam in 1897 and was admitted ARIBA on 7 March 1898 he was living at 1 St Mary's Street, St Andrews.

The work of the Kerr & McCulloch partnership was of considerable originality culminating in two schools but the partnership ended about 1911 when McCulloch emigrated to Tasmania and allowed his associateship to lapse. At that date Kerr had recently married and was evidently in some difficulty from lack of commissions as the Rev Charles Robson of Moncrieff Church made a second approach to the Office of works on Kerr's behalf, Oldrieve acknowledging on 13 January 1912 that 'many architects in private practice now have a trying time'. This was not successful but a series of testimonials from local estates and solicitors, and the support of the brewer George Younger in the Conservative Whip's Office secured his appointment as a valuer under the Finance Act of 1910, which kept him in employment for two years.

Kerr's practice recovered after the First World War with a housing scheme, school additions and a Co-operative sports pavilion but he died of a diabetic heart attack on 13 November 1927, leaving a widow (his second wife) and three daughters. Andrew Scobie completed the work in hand, Kerr's drawings being subsequently transferred to neighbouring architect William Kerr.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Manilla House, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, ScotlandPrivate/business  Date unknown
Item 2 of 230, Mar Street, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, ScotlandPrivate/business1896  

Employment and Training

Employers

The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 6Francis (Frank) James Chambers Carruthersc. 1882Late 1887Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Francis (Frank) James Chambers CarruthersLate 1887March 1889Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 6Andrew ScobieMarch 1889August 1889Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Wimperis & ArberLate 1890March 1893Assistant 
Item 5 of 6Adam Frame18931896Assistant 
Item 6 of 6Kerr & McCullochc. 1902c. 1911Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 23 Cottages, Paton StreetAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 23 Creamery, Bank StreetAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 3 of 23 House for Mr StirlingAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 23 Kincardine Cemetery layoutKincardine KincardineshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 5 of 23 Tullicoultry Cemetery layoutTillicoultry ClackmannanshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 6 of 231898Villa, ClaremontAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 7 of 231900Clackmannan Free ChurchClackmannan ClackmannanshireScotlandAlterations
Item 8 of 231903Shop for T S CowieAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 9 of 231904Cambus and Tullibody InstituteTullibody ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 10 of 231904SchoolTillicoultry ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 11 of 231905Ludgate SchoolAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandCookery school block added
Item 12 of 231905Shop and garageAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 13 of 231907Alva Baptist ChurchAlva ClackmannanshireScotlandConverted from Parish School to church
Item 14 of 231907Kincardine-on-Forth Infant SchoolKincardine-on-Forth FifeScotlandAdditions
Item 15 of 231908Grange SchoolAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 16 of 231910Alloa Burgh SchoolAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandAddition
Item 17 of 231910Ludgate SchoolAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandAddition of north-east block
Item 18 of 231921Soda Fountain CaféAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 19 of 231925Alloa Co-operative Society Members Sports PavilionAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 20 of 231925Alva AcademyAlva ClackmannanshireScotlandAdditions
Item 21 of 231925Housing for Alloa Town CouncilAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 22 of 231925Menstrie Public SchoolMenstrie ClackmannanshireScotlandAdditions
Item 23 of 23c. 1925Co-operative Society, managers' cottagesAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 2 of 2Swan, Adam1988The Kerrs of Alloa49Charles Rennie Mackintosh Newsletter, Summer 1988pp5-7

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Builder25 November 1927  p 824

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Michael ClarkInformation sent via 'Contact Us' on the DSA website Sent November 2010
Item 2 of 3DMW archiveNewscutting obituary of William George Kerr (undated)  
Item 3 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Information from testimonials held by Kerr's daughters, per Adam Swan; additional address information from Iain Paterson