A Sense of Place

Last week the Dolly team enjoyed a trip out to King’s Buildings, the main campus for the University of Edinburgh’s College of Science and Engineering. Bustling with students – not to mention architectural styles – the site is a chessboard of history, not least where animal genetics is concerned. King’s Buildings was home to, for instance, the Institute of Animal Genetics, the MRC Epigenetics Unit and the Poultry Research Centre. We were fortunate enough to have for our guide Professor Grahame Bulfield (former Director of the Roslin Institute and a University genetics student during the 1960s), who is also a valued adviser on the Dolly project board. Grahame’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the roll-call of each building’s previous occupants meant that we were able to visit the habitats of many of the individuals that Kristy and I have been ‘getting to know’ through our cataloguing. It was fascinating to be able to put, if you like, ‘places to names’, and gave us a sense of the social geography of animal genetics at Edinburgh. Here are a couple of our highlights:

Crew building

This building, now called the Crew building and used by the School of Geosciences, was formerly known as the Institute of Animal Genetics. Frances A.E Crew, Director of the Department in Animal Breeding since 1920, had worked to raise funds partly to pay for a designated building for the Department. Designed by John Matthew, the building was opened in 1930.

This oak panel contains the names of those who obtained higher degrees from theOld Genetics plaque and memorabilia now in Ashworth Department up to the year 1950. It used to hang in the entrance hall of the Institute building (above) but has now been moved to the Ashworth Laboratories (also built in 1929), now used by the School of Biological Sciences. Note also the wonderful chairs carved with various farm animals!


Ashworth staircase and palms right

The majestic staircase in the Ashworth building displays portraits of many key scientific figures within the University. F.A.E Crew can be seen on the right next to the wooden-framed picture, with his successor as Director, C.H Waddington, two pictures up.



Not quite so visually grand as the two preceding buildings, this used to house C.HOld Waddington MRC Epigenetics Building Waddington’s Epigenetics Laboratory. Funded by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Foundation and the Distillers Company, the building was opened in 1965, with Waddington moving his office from the Institute of Animal Genetics building into the top floor here. Aesthetically perhaps a far cry from John Matthew’s creation, but also a bold statement of the continuing expansion of genetics at the University.

With thanks to Professor Grahame Bulfield.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *