Records of the Scottish Marine Biological Association, 1901- , scientific research stations, Millport and Oban, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Constitution, 1901;
  • Annual reports, 1978-1994;
  • Illustrated brochure for Dunstaffinage Marine Research Laboratory, 1981.

Administrative / Biographical History

The origins of the Scottish Marine Biological Association can be traced back to the Challenger Expedition, the first major oceanographic expedition which investigated the oceans of the world from 1872-1876  . Dr (later Sir) John Murray recognised that studies of the coastal waters of Scotland might shed further light on the phenomena which had been observed in the deep ocean basins and through his efforts the Scottish Meteorological Society established a permanent marine laboratory in 1884  . Prior to occupying a building on shore, work was carried out in the Ark, a canal barge converted to a floating laboratory, which was moored in a sea-flooded quarry at Granton, on the Firth of Forth.

In 1885  Murray transferred the Ark to the west coast where it was beached at Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae and became a centre for marine research until, as a result of the enthusiasm of Dr David Robertson and a committee of Glasgow naturalists, the Millport Marine Station was opened in 1897  . Four years later the title was changed to Millport Marine Biological Association of the West of Scotland and the present title was adopted in 1914  when the Association was incorporated as a non-profit making company to promote research and education in marine biology.

In 1950  the Association assumed the additional responsibility of the Oceanographic Laboratory, Edinburgh. The work of that laboratory, initiated by Professor Sir Alister Clavering Hardy , was formerly carried on at the Department of Zoology and Oceanography, University College, Hull. Its first aim was to apply knowledge of the plankton to the study of fluctuations in commercial fisheries, but its field of activity steadily widened over the years to embrace a study of the variation of plankton and its environment in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Oceanographic Laboratory, Edinburgh, remained the responsibility of the Association until it was taken over by the Natural Environment Research Council in 1970  to form the nucleus of the Institute for Marine Environmental Research. In 1967 construction of a new home for the Association was started on the mainland of the west coast, near Oban, Argyll, and by 1970 all the research activities of the Association had been transferred from Millport to this new laboratory, Dunstaffinage Marine Research Laboratory. The Marine Station at Millport formally became the University Marine Biological Station, Millport , administered by the Universities of London and Glasgow, and concerned with Undergraduate teachers and research in marine biology and the supply of marine material. The Association still operates at Dunstaffinage but now operates as the Scottish Association For Marine Science .


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

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Digital file level list available in searchroom.

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Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

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Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History



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Related Material

Records of the Scottish Marine station at Granton are held by Edinburgh University Library Special Collections: GB 0237 Gen 33, Gen 81D-92D and Gen 93D-96D .

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew MacGregor, Archives Assistant, June 27 2000. Lower level description compiled by members of Glasgow University Archive Service staff. Catalogue edited by Michelle Kaye, Archives Assistant, 12 July 2012.