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Sunday, 7 July 2013

J Lennox Kerr and Cammill Laird Shipbuilders

We know that JLK was contracted to write a history of Cammill Laird. We have the contract. He had earlier written The Unfortunate Ship about the early Laird vessel Birkenhead which sank with considerable  loss of life. Lairds had virtually founded Birkenhead as a port, and produced both merchant and war ships, including the Ark Royal.

But here there is mystery. A typescript exists in the Wirral Record Office (Cammill Laird Archive) of an unpublished JLK manuscript. Was it the only one, or one of several? I have here Builders of Great Ships, declared to be authored by Cammill Laird and with clear signs of marketing department involvement. It says in its Acknowledgements, thanks are due to " J Lennox Kerr for many of the facts which appear in this book". It is not however the book of the typescript. There are several similar books, including The History of Cammill Laird, again "authored" by Cammill Laird. It is clear that Kerr was deeply involved in this project; it is not quite clear who authored what.

Builders of Great Ships was published by Richard Garrett Services Ltd who "prepared the text", whatever this means. It traces the story from the beginning in 1810 through two world wars to the present day (1959). It is a simple text with many photographs - a marketing monograph.

JLK also wrote as Peter Dawlish and Gavin Douglas.

Postscript: We found the typescript, which is now being copied into pdf.
Postscript 2, April 2017. Adam Kerr, who holds the typescript, died August 2016.

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