Clifford Hiley Mortimer Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains river and lake data in rivers in Britain, and correspondence regarding flows, inflows, chemical analyses and chemical stratification. It also contains details regarding Mortimer's career. Also present include mud samples

Administrative / Biographical History

Taken from CLIFFORD HILEY MORTIMER obituary, By A. S. Brooks, J. W. G. Lund and J. F. Talling

Cliiford Hiley Mortimer (27 February 1911-11 May 2010) was a freshwater scientist who undertook investigations into the physics, chemistry and biology of lakes

Clifford Mortimer was born in the county of Somerset, at the village of Whitchurch, close to Bristol, in southwest England. His father was a letterpress printer in a printing shop, his mother a farmer's daughter. Having experienced World War I his parents had become Quakers, as a result of their testimony of pacifism. Clifford was brought up in this faith, as was his brother Russell. It influenced his attitudes and contacts throughout life.

He entered the University of Manchester in 1929 as a zoologist. He had contact with the Freshwater Biological Association Moreover, in 1932 he had attended the first Easter Course held by the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) at Wray Castle on the northwestern shore of Windermere. The course was led by W. H. (later Professor) Pearsall (FRS 1940). This greatly stimulated his interest in freshwater biology. Pearsall also had cause to note him.

Mortimer married Ingeborg Closs in 1935, and went on to have two daughters

Mortimer became interested in genetics and undertook research done at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Biologie and Berlin. In 1935 he applied for a research post at the Freshwater Biological Association, along with T.T. Macan. However although Mortimer did not seek this task, he was asked to undertake routine and physical examinations of the lake water as part of his duties. From here started his passion into lake analyses.

Interests include assessment of the biomass of phytoplankton and zooplankton and the interface between deposits (mud) and the overlying water, especially the oxidation-reduction relationships. He showed that the 'water-soluble ammonia' content of the superficial muds of the Lake District lakes supported the evolutionary classification developed by Pearsall. He went Germany to collect and survey the world literature from 1860 onwards relating to the chemistry of fresh waters, as well as relevant references to geochemistry and bacteriology. He was keenly interested in echo sounding

Investigations into changes in the chemistry of the mud were greatly helped by the Jenkin Mud Sampler invented by B.M. Jenkin

During the Second World War he was in 'Group W (for waves) of engineers and scientists led by an oceanographer

After the war he returned to the Freshwater Biological Association as a physical limnologist

In 1956 Mortimer accepted the directorship of the Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, Laboratory of the Scottish Marine Biological Association, which he held for nine years. During this period he showed interest in the water movement of the American Great Lakes

In 1966 he accepted a position as Distinguished Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Directorship of a newly formed Center for Great Lake Studies

Conditions Governing Access

Contact dis@fba.org.uk to make an appointment