Dr Walter Mykura, who died suddenly
on 13th May 1988, aged 62, as a result of a road accident in Edinburgh, was an
outstanding field geologist, known for his work throughout Scotland. Wally Mykura
was a much-loved Life Fellow of the Edinburgh Geological Society, to which he
was elected an Ordinary Fellow in 1951 and which he served as President from 1975
Originally from a small town in the north
of Czechoslovakia, he came as a refugee to Britain in 1938 and, after war service
in the RAF, graduated in geology at the University of Birmingham in 1950. In that
year he joined the staff of the Geological Survey in its Edinburgh office, where
he remained until a stroke forced his retirement in 1985. Such was his tenacity
and purpose that, supported by his wife Alison, he made an almost complete recovery
and at the time of his death was eagerly looking forward to leading the Society's
week-long May excursion to Shetland.
Even whilst a student at Birmingham, his ability to abserve
and discern key field evidence showed in his first publication in 1951, which
was based on work in the nearby Abberley Hills. In Scotland, his published contributions
are immense and his name will be ranked forever amongst the greatest in Scottish
geology. He is the only field geologist in the Geological Survey ever to have
gained Special Merit Promotion to Senior Principal Scientific Officer, which he
achieved in 1979. He was awarded the Wollaston Fund of the Geological Society
of London in 1972, the Clough Medal of the Edinburgh
Geological Society in 1982 and the T.N.George Medal of the Geological Society
of Glasgow in 1987. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
in 1970 and the University of Birmingham awarded him a DSc in 1976.
were those that he stimulated to take up geology through his infectious enthusiasm,
conveyed in well-illustrated lectures but above all in the field, where he also
demonstrated his considerable mountaineering skill. He was an inspiring leader
of many of the Society's excursions, especially the week-long excursions in May
every year. Perhaps the most memorable of these was that to the Isle of Rhum in
1977. He also led two notable long excursions for The Geologists' Association,
to Orkney in 1978 and to Shetland in 1983.
official duties in Scotland, principally concerned with the production of geological
maps and accompanying memoirs, began in the Pentland Hills near his home, covering
the Silurian inliers, Lower Old Red Sandstone volcanic rocks and the Pleistocene
geology. Later, he co-authored the 3rd Edition of the Edinburgh Memoir with G.H.
Mitchell. This was followed by work in the Ayrshire Coalfield, notably demonstrating
the replacement of coal by limestone. There then came nine summer seasons of field
work in the geologically-remarkable Shetland Islands, concerned with the
evolution of the Old Red Sandstone basins, volcanic rocks, metamorphic rocks and
plutonic complexes, particularly in Western Shetland. He co-authored the Western
Shetland Memoir with J. Phemister in 1976. He provided new evidence on the movement
on the Great Glen Fault system as it passes northwards through Shetland. Later
work on the Old Red Sandstone of Orkney enabled him to produce a completely new
Regional Handbook on the Geology of Orkney and Shetland, published in 1976. This
is perhaps his best-known single work and contains a guide to geological excursions
in the two groups of islands. He also worked extensively in the mainland of northern
Wally Mykura, as he was universally
known and loved, became recognised internationally as the authority on the Old
Red Sandstone of northern Britain, in the Orcadian Province. At the time of his
retirement from the post of District Geologist in charge of the Highlands and
Islands of Scotland, he had already embarked on a major review of the Jurassic
sediments which are only briefly glimpsed on land on the west and east coasts
of Scotland, but which form such important hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs offshore.
He is survived by his wife Alison, three sons and a daughter.
Michael C Smith (1939-1997)
It is with great sadness that the Society notes the death
of Mike Smith on 12th June. A member of the Society's Council, its representative
on the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Secretary of the Lothian and Borders RIGS
Group, affiliated to the Society, Mike Smith was a member of the Petroleum Group
of the British Geological Survey based at the Gilmerton Core Store. A quiet,
extremely efficient and modest man, the Society will miss his wise counsel.
McLaren Donald Duff (1927-1998)
It was with
great sadness that the Society learned of the death of Donald Duff earlier this
year after some months of illness. At the time of his death he was a Trustee
of the Society and served on the Clough Committee, and from 1972 to 1974 he was
one of our Vice-Presidents. During his distinguished and energetic
career he first worked with the Geological Survey before being appointed to a
lectureship, and later a senior lectureship, in the University of Edinburgh, and
then to a chair at Strathclyde University. With lifelong research interests
in coal and its associated sediments he was then head-hunted by BP in London to
become their chief coal review geologist, a post with world-wide interests
which he held until he retired in 1987. He was the Secretary of the
Geological Society of London, an editor of several journals, and author and co-editor
of several major texts in geology. We shall miss his cheerful presence at
evening meetings and his valued experience contributed to the affairs of our Society.
C Laing (d. 1999)
Margaret C Laing was appointed
a member of Council for the session 1975-76 and then was Treasurer of the Society
from 1976 to 1982 and a Vice-President from 1983 to 1985, the busy period of the
150th anniversary celebrations. She will be remembered for her cheery disposition,
her stalwart presence on excursions, and her ability to make others laugh when
considering the otherwise dull topic of the Society's finances.
David C Greig
FRSE (d. 1999)
David C Greig FRSE was Secretary
of the Society from 1965 to 1970 and its President from 1973 to 1975. As
District Geologist with the IGS South Lowlands Unit, he wrote the last edition
of the regional guide to the South of Scotland. He was a popular field leader,
having the knack of pitching his explanations of the rocks at exactly the right
level for the entire party. There was hardly a year in which he did not
offer an excursion to some part of Berwickshire.
Kingsley Dunham FRS (1910-2001)
With the death
of Sir Kingsley Dunham on 5th April 2001, at the age of 91, our Society has lost
one of its most eminent Honorary Fellows. Much of his life was lived in
or close to the city of Durham, where he attended primary and secondary school
and then went on to take Honours in geology at Durham University, where Arthur
Holmes was Professor of Geology. A Durham PhD on the lead-zinc mineralisation
of the North Pennine ore-field kindled his life-long interest in the mechanisms
of orebody generation.
Following the tenure of
a Commonwealth Fellowship at Harvard in 1932, he returned to Britain to a post
in the Geological Survey. In 1950 he was appointed to the chair of Geology
at Durham. Here, he obtained funding for a major project, the drilling of
the Rookhope borehole to explore the deep structure of the North Pennine orefield.
Completed in 1961, this confirmed the existence of the Weardale granite below
Carboniferous sedimentary rocks. However, contrary to the existing theory,
the borehole showed that the granite predated both the sedimentary rocks and the
mineralisation and hence merely acted as a focus for the mineralising fluids rather
than being their source.
He returned to the Geological
Survey as its Director from 1967 to 1976, and master-minded its eventual move
from London to Keyworth. His honours and awards included 12 honorary degrees,
the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society, the Gold Medal of the Institute
of Mining and Metallurgy, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society and honorary mem-bership
of many societies. He was knighted in 1972.
attached great importance to the public understanding of science, and in retirement
back in Durham he was a strong supporter of Yorkshire Geological Society events
and was Honorary President of the North East Geological Society. He led
parties of Open University students on tours of Durham Cathedral, demonstrating
its building stones. An expert pianist and organist, he played the cathedral organ
until his sight failed in old age. In his much-loved Cathedral were united
the themes of music, science and religion which were at the core of his life.
John L Roberts
Dr John L Roberts, who died in November
2000, was a well known Highland geologist. He graduated in geology from
the University of Edinburgh in 1958, and did his PhD at Liverpool University,
where, at his own suggestion, he worked under Robert Shackleton on the structure
of the Dalradian of the Southwest Highlands. In 1963, he went to the Middle
East, teaching in Saudi Arabia for a year, and for two years at the American University
of Beirut in the Lebanon, where he met his first wife, Lynn. He returned
to Britain in 1966 to a teaching post at Newcastle University, where he remained
until taking early retirement in 1986.
published over twenty papers on the structure of the Dalradian of Scotland, many
in collaboration with Jack Treagus, which made a considerable impact on the interpretation
of Highland geology. The Structure of the Dalradian rocks in the SW of Scotland,
based on his PhD work and publish-ed in 1974, is a seminal work describing in
detail the eight phases of deforma-tion that affect these rocks and providing
the first 'modern' account of the overall structure of the Dalradian from Islay
to the Highland Border.
After retirement, John
devoted his energy to writing books. Among them, An Introduction to Geological
Maps and Structures is in its third edition and translated into several languages.
The Macmillan Field Guide to Geological Structures is a wonderful tribute
to his photography, and The Highland Geology Trail demonstrates his wish
to share his love of Highland geology with others. More recently, three
of his volumes on the history of the Scottish Highlands have been published by
Edinburgh University Press, a fourth being completed in the last year of his debilitating
Gordon Macpherson (1925-2001)
of Mineralogy at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, Harry Macpherson was known to
very members of our Society for his enthusiasm in the collection and study of
Scottish minerals. A quiet and private man, he believed in fostering close links
between the Museum and the Edinburgh Geological Society, a rewarding association
which we still enjoy. His death on 13th December after a long illness leaves those
who knew him with many happy and enduring memories.
was born and educated in Aberdeen, served with the Royal Engineers in the Far
East, and returning to the University of Aberdeen, graduated with an Honours B.Sc.
in geology in 1952. Study for an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Toronto University followed.
Summer field work in Canada gave him experience of the high pressure hurly-burly
of economic geology during employment with several prospecting companies. In 1958
he returned to Scotland as a scientist with the National Coal Board in New Cumnock,
and in 1960 he was appointed a Mineral Curator in the Geology Department of the
Royal Museum. Refurbishment of the northeast wing of the Museum in the late 1960s
and early 1970s gave the opportunity for the development of a new Mineral Hall,
opened in 1975. Here, Harry's unrivalled skill in producing uncomplicated, attractive
and educational displays was used to the full.
his interest in the collection and identification of new Scottish minerals, he
worked to increase the Museum's research capability, introducing new techniques
and encouraging younger colleagues, who remember him on mineral hunting forays
lugging home huge specimens for the Museum's collection. Macphersonite, a new
mineral from Leadhills, was named after him. He retired from museum duties in
1987, and, encouraged not to waste his expert knowledge of Scottish agates, published
his well-known book on Agates in 1989.
Sir Frederick Henry Stewart (1916-2001)
Fred Stewart was a canny Aberdonian. He was appointed
to a Lecturership in Geology at the University of Durham (1943-56) and to the
Regius Chair of Geology and Mineralogy in the University of Edinburgh (1956-82).
Stewart first worked on the igneous rocks in Skye and
Belhelvie in Aberdeenshire. During his employment as a wartime mineralogist with
ICI he found economically valuable salt deposits, strategically vital to the Allied
war effort. He later continued with his research in the northeast of Scotland
and the volcanic complexes of the Scottish islands. Fred was elected a Fellow
of the Edinburgh Geological Society in 1956, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
in 1957 and Fellow of the Royal Society in 1964. His meticulous work was recognised
by awards from the Geological Society of London, the Mineralogical Society of
America, and the Edinburgh Geological Society, from whom he was awarded the Clough
Appointed Chairman of the Natural Environment
Research Council in 1971, Stewart became Chairman of the Advisory Board of Research
Councils (1973-79). In that capacity he was responsible for advising the Secretary
of the Departrnent of Education and Science on science policy in the UK covering
the spectrum of medicine, pure science, agriculture and engineenng
Stewart retired in 1982 to live in Argyll with his wife, Mary, the writer. He
beqeathed his marvellous collection of minerals and fossil fish to the Royal Museum
(Sandy) Cleghorn Robertson (1919-2001)
Robertson, with his wife Margaret, was a familiar figure on the Society's day
excursions and the annual Long Excursion. Sandy was bom near Wishaw where he started
work in the Co-operative Society at the age of 14. He was called up at the outbreak
of war in 1939, serving with distinction in the Tank Corps in France and in Burma.
On demobilisation in 1946 he entered the coal industry, later to become the National
Coal Board, at Branchal Colliery near Wishaw. He studied for his Manager's Certificate
and held several managerial positions in Fife, where he met Margaret. Interested
in the education of young apprentices, he transferred to the newly-formed Industrial
Training Board, of which he became head. Retirement in 1981 gave him time to pursue
his interests in lapidary and geology. He served on EGS Council from 1982 to 1984.
In the last 10 years he turned to archaeology and took part in digs in Greece,
learning Greek so as to be able to converse with fellow diggers.
Donald Robert Shelley (1933-2002)
Don Shelley was born in Stafford in 1933 and attended
the Grammar School until he was sixteen. He did his National Service in Germany,
joined the Colonial Service and was posted to Kenya, where he served with distinction
during the Mau Mau troubles. After three years, he moved to Northern Rhodesia
where he married Anne. His next posting was to Barotseland, where he stayed for
seven years playing an active part in the negotiations that led to independence.
After his return to Britain, he spent a year as a policeman
in the Lake District before joining the Nature Conservancy Council as a warden
of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, making his home at Knockan Cottage. During this
period, he discovered his gift for passing on his enthusiasm to people, especially
to children, and he was a pioneer of the Nature Trail. Not surprisingly, residence
in Assynt increased his fascination with geology and he joined the Edinburgh Geological
Society. He regarded the annual long excursion as one of the high points of the
year and he attended whenever possible.
Anne set up their business in Golspie in 1970 and, despite the apparent remoteness
of the shop, The Orcadian Stone Company became an internationally known company
and the superb exhibition of rocks, minerals and fossils was visited by an ever
increasing number of individuals. the interest shown in his collection by academic
visitors was a source of great satisfaction to Don.
has many durable memorials such as his displays at Golspie, Knockan Cliff, Ardgay,
Fort William and interpretative displays throughout the Highlands. He knew Scotland
and its animals, birds and rocks and there are few corners that he had not explored.
Being out in the field with Don was always a pleasure and an education and his
genial presence will be greatly missed.
John Anthony (Tony) Weir (1932-2002)
Born and brought up in Glasgow, Tony attended Glasgow
High School. Following in the footsteps of his father, John Weir, he went on to
study Geology at Glasgow University, before going on to to take his Ph.D. at Queen's
University, Belfast under the supervision of Alwyn Williams.
4 January 1959, he joined the academic staff of the Geology Department at St Andrews
University. His research focussed on the sedimentology and structure of the Lower
Palaeozoic successions of southern Scotland, in collaboration with Ken Walton,
and contributed to the development of the imbricate thrust model for the Southern
Uplands. In the Department he was a conscientious and loyal colleague who was
always ready to help out in a crisis, and students over many years remember him
with affection and respect. A number of postgraduate students were grateful for
his writing up their work for publication after they had moved on to demanding
Though his parents retired to Tayport, Tony
spent 5 days a week as resident of Dean's Court, the post-graduate residence in
St. Andrews, where he became a much loved supporter of that community. He was
an enthusiast for steam trains (he had an encyclopoedic knowledge of railways),
paddle steamers and Clyde shipping in particular. He was keen on classical music
and it was not unknown for him to burst into song at informal gatherings.
His health deteriorated soon after his retiral in 1997
and his last few months were spent in hospital. His position in St. Andrews was
well expressed by a hospital nurse who said that Tony received more visitors than
any other patient on the ward. This was borne out by the large number of colleagues,
former students and friends who attended his funeral. He remained single all his
Perhaps the most lasting legacy of Tony
Weir is the impact his teaching made on students, which is best summed up by two
eulogies sent in by former students.
had a great love of life and was one of those larger than life characters who
enriched life for the rest of us. His enthusiasm and idiosyncracies greatly enlivened
the study of palaeontology for undergraduates"
I teach fossils to my class, I try to show the same enthusiasm Tony showed when
teaching us. A part of him lives on when I teach graptolites. My pronunciation
of 'Didymograptus murchisoni' is pure Tony Weir Glaswegian and works the
same magic with my students as it worked with me. He now has academic grandchildren
who use his pronunciation for fossil names despite their Yorkshire accents."
John Kenneth Oakley (1929-2002)
Ken Oakley was the Society's Excursion Secretary from
1988 to 1993 after nobly volunteering to take over from his predecessor Ian Hogarth.
His love of the outdoors and his enthusiasm for organising sport and outdoor activity
for the young fitted him well for the task. With Honours in geology from
St Andrews University he taught science and physics at St Mungoís, Alloa and at
Larbert High School. Even after his retirement from teaching, he regularly
climbed in the Alps with groups of his former pupils. He had climbed all
of the Scottish Munros, and completed the last of the Corbetts in October 2000
when already diagnosed with cancer. His other interests included cricket
(he umpired at Club level), hockey (his girl's hockey team swept all before them
playing 'men's' hockey) and gardening (his tomato plants came with him on one
Long Excursion). The Society will miss his kindly and cheerful company in