Peter K. Clark is known universally in the cartographic world as PKC. He was born on 23rd January 1926. In the year in which he has celebrated his 80th birthday, many feel that a formal acknowledgement of his considerable contribution to cartography would be appropriate.
After graduating in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 1950, he joined the then fledgling Map Curators, later to become Map Research Officers, in the War Office, under the tutelage of Bunny Lewis. Peter’s intellect, feel for cartographic research, attention to detail and linguistic awareness became legendary, and he rose through the ranks to be appointed Chief Map Research Officer at a relatively young age. On Bunny Lewis’s retirement in 1972, Peter became Head of the MRO Class which, at that time, comprised one of (if not the) the largest groups of graduates employed in a cartographic environment in the UK. In that capacity, he set out to open channels of communication between his own organisation and the wider map library world. He introduced the idea of passing superseded mapping no longer required in the MoD Map Library to other collections, thus ensuring far greater depth to the foreign holdings of Legal Deposit Libraries in particular, but also in university collections. He gave a far greater profile to the largest and most comprehensive map collection in the UK, namely the MoD’s and took a personal role in the Ordnance Survey Consultative Committees and in BRICMICS (originally the British Committee for Map Cataloguing and Information Systems), bringing to bear his vast knowledge and abilities. In the British map library world, he was regarded as a principal source of expertise. When Peter took early retirement in 1983, he started his second career as Keeper at the Royal Geographical Society and yet another generation of researchers was able to benefit from his cartographic knowledge and expertise.
Peter has always been generous of his time and expertise. As a senior manager, Peter was always unassuming and low key. He did not enjoy being in the public eye, but always recognised that the group of people he led had much to contribute to the wider cartographic environment. Always supportive of his staff, he encouraged them to get involved more widely and allowed them (unofficially!) the time and scope for this wider activity. It is not surprising that from the ranks of his staff have come one Secretary, one Convener MCG, one Chair of the Programme Committee and no less than 4 Presidents of the British Cartographic Society: all have spent part of their professional careers under his guidance.
Peter was always supportive of organisations which existed to support the things which he felt were important. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society since the age of 18. In 1963, when the establishment of the British Cartographic Society was mooted, he was amongst the first to join. He carries the membership number 14, testament to the fact that he was one of that glorious but diminishing band of people who founded this Society in Leicester in 1963. In 1980 he was co-founder of the Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey maps and served as its first Chairman.
We are privileged to nominate Peter Clark as the next recipient of the Society’s Medal.
Barbara A.Bond, J.Margaret Wilkes, A.Yolande Hodson