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:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Manilla House, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland||Private/business|| || ||Date unknown|
|30, Mar Street, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland||Private/business||1896|| || |
Employment and Training
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|New DNB|| ||New Dictionary of National Biography|| || || |
|Swan, Adam||1988||The Kerrs of Alloa||49||Charles Rennie Mackintosh Newsletter, Summer 1988||pp5-7|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||25 November 1927|| || ||p 824|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of Michael Clark||Information sent via 'Contact Us' on the DSA website|| ||Sent November 2010|
|DMW archive||Newscutting obituary of William George Kerr (undated)|| || |
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor 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|