It appears that C.H Waddington’s interest in animals was not merely confined to biology and genetics: the other day I happened across this drawing among some correspondence of Waddington’s about his visit to various Universities and research institutions in India in October 1968 under the auspices of British Council. Waddington seemingly took a fancy to having a statuette of this horse made out of clay ‘by a village craftsman’, a process overseen by his friend Prof R.V. Seshaiya from the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology, Annamalai University, Porto Novo, in South India. A letter from Seshaiya to Waddington on February 27 1969 claims that ‘the ‘horse’ is nearing completion. The only item of work is painting it. The doll-maker tells me that he will hand over the finished model in about a week’s time’ before adding, ‘of course his measure of time is different from ours.’ It would certainly appear so – the parcel eventually arrived in September!
Waddington’s reply to Seshaiya on 26 September 1969 notes that ‘my wife and I are very pleased with [the horse]. It travelled quite safely except for one or two of the minor ornaments which we can quite easily put back with adhesive. I am very grateful for the trouble you took over this and it will be a wonderful reminder of our pleasant time at Porto Novo.’ We don’t know whether the two wonderfully dressed gentlemen ever formed part of the ornament!
The significance of the horse is not known, and neither is it clear who made this rather accomplished drawing, from which, presumably, the horse was modelled. We’ve seen from previous posts that Waddington could clearly draw, but I suspect even his skills did not extend this far. It could possibly have been his architect wife, Justin Blanco White, or perhaps someone in India. The mystery remains, but it’s certainly interesting to see what can turn up in folders of correspondence!
The Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research was created in 1986 when the Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO) and most of the Poultry Research Centre (PRC) were amalgamated to form the Edinburgh Research Station along with the Cambridge Research Station which was also known as the Institute of Animal Physiology at Babraham. These institutions developed from the animal breeding research station founded in 1919 by Dr F. A. E. Crew. While ABRO concentrated on long term breeding experiments and genotypes and their environment; the PRC concentrated on aspects of poultry biology. Both, however, developed research interests in molecular genetics which was the common denominator in the reasons for them joining together. According to P.E. Lake’s 1986-87 report, ‘the aims of the Edinburgh Research Station are to advance fundamental, scientific knowledge of the molecular, cellular and systemic processes that contribute to the development, fertility, behaviour and welfare of livestock. Further objectives are to seek genetic improvement of livestock by research on gene transfer and embryo manipulation within a framework of selected breeding derived from careful traits.’ He noted that their goal was to integrate the Research Station into one site at Roslin by 1989.
We are delighted to see our article about the progress of ‘Towards Dolly’ in the latest issue of the Scottish Council on Archives’ magazine Broadsheet!
The patterns on the page are details from a drawing made by Waddington from his 1923 essay ‘Alchemy’ from his school days (see below). I especially like the way that these patterns have been made to look almost psychedelic in the article!
You can read the full edition of SCA Broadsheet here
Based on the amount of papers I’ve found collected in the bound off-print series from the Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO) various aspects of animal health, diseases and genetics were just as important to research as livestock improvement and animal breeding. Many of the articles I’m cataloguing focus on immunogenetics, animal blood groups, diseases, such as scrapie, and transfer of immunoglobulins from mothers to their offspring.
Additionally, they also researched and wrote about animal blood groups, connections between disease and heredity and immunity. Again, there were some wonderful illustrations amongst the papers!