Honorary Fellows

Professor John Hume


John Hume graduated in 1961 from the University of Glasgow. After three years of research in steroid chemistry he was appointed to teach the History of Science and Technology in the then-new University of Strathclyde’s Department of Economic and Industrial History, where he chose the new subject of industrial archaeology as his research interest. Between 1964 and the mid 1970s he surveyed industrial buildings, processes and plant throughout Scotland, and published three volumes based on his survey work. At the same time he began working with Michael Moss on the industrial archives of engineering and shipbuilding, notably of the West of Scotland, and they published jointly a number of books based on their work (notably on the distilling side of the Scotch Whisky Industry). He also took part in the excavation of three west highland charcoal iron-smelting works.

In 1984 he was asked to transfer, for an initial period of three years, to the Ancient Monuments Division of the Scottish Office, where, as well as advising on industrial monuments, he became a ‘Properties in Care’ Inspector. During that period he initiated extensive excavations at Whithorn Priory, Dundonald Castle and Machrie Moor stone circles on Arran.

In 1994 he transferred to the Historic Buildings part of what became Historic Scotland and retired in 1999 as Chief inspector of Historic Buildings. He took part in the revision of listing of railway buildings and lighthouses, and prepared the ground for the creation of the ‘Millennium Link’ restoration of the lowland canals. After his retirement from Historic Scotland he became deeply involved in the work of the Church of Scotland’s General Trustees and Artistic Matters Committee. In 2005 he was appointed Chair of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, retiring in 2015.
He recognised when he was appointed to a post in the University of Strathclyde in 1964 that this gave him a high level of responsibility to do the best he could to ensure that Scotland’s industrial heritage earned the respect he considered it deserved. He was particularly anxious that industrial archaeology became recognised as an area of academic study considered on a par with more ‘traditional’ areas of interest within archaeology. At the time he first became involved industrial archaeology was largely seen as the study of the industrial revolution period. In the same manner, history of science was seen as the study of the ‘Scientific Revolution of the 17th and 18th Centuries’. Throughout his career he has done his best to open up these two areas of study.

He was very fortunate to encounter many people who believed in what he was seeking to achieve. He is very grateful to all of them, but particularly to the late Professor SGE Lythe, who in 1964 launched him on the sea which has brought him here, to this shore.

Elected FSAScot in 1976 John R Hume’s photographic output is now a significant part of the Historic Environment Scotland archive (more than 40,000 images). He was awarded an OBE in 1998.

John Hume in front of ship