Brown, Son and Ferguson - Publisher of the Month
Brown's Nautical Almanac
Brown, Son and Ferguson was established in about 1850 as a small retail stationery business on the south side of the River Clyde in Glasgow. In those early days there was no railway bridge across the River Clyde to the Central Station, and sailing ships navigated right up the Clyde into the heart of the city, so that it was little problem for the captains and crews of vessels to visit the book shop. From book sales came book publishing – in those early days there would appear to have been few publications on maritime affairs available, except perhaps Norie's Epitome of Navigation.
The first edition of Brown's Nautical Almanac was published in 1876, and the book is now published annually. The book is a comprehensive guide to tide tables, meteorology, lights, beacons and buoys, and other Astronomical Ephemeris. Over the years nautical navigation has become much more of an exact science, and accuracy is essential. Publisher T. Nigel Brown is also the Editor of the Nautical Almanac, who oversees the many changes which take place in shipping regulations between each edition.
Ship-building Books for the General Reader
The success of the Almanac spurred the company to publish many more books, and they now cover every phase of sea life. There are books on navigation and seamanship, knotting and splicing, ship engineering and construction, the laws of the oceans, and much more besides. When the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements started, the company saw further scope for its activities and became connected with both associations.
Books on the history of shipping and ship-building and popular with a wider audience, and the company has published many titles such as George H Parker's At the Sharp End!, Truly 'Clyde Built' by William Kane and Gone... by William Cumming. Many of the company's books on sailing ships, particularly those by Basil Lubbock, are praised for their old-fashioned look, quality production and beautiful illustrations.
Amongst the more famous Lubbock titles are The Colonial Clippers, The China Clippers, The Last of the Windjammers and The Log of the Cutty Sark.
Scottish Plays for Theatre Groups
Brown, Son and Ferguson have also been publishing playscripts under their sister imprint Scottish Plays for nearly 100 years. They have published over 200 one act and 100 full length plays for both amateur and professional theatre groups, many of which have been successful in play festivals across the country.
The company is also the publishers of the long-established Nautical magazine, first published in 1832. Since then, there have only been seven editors, from Captain (later Admiral) A.B. Becher in 1932, to the current Richard B. P Brown. The magazine is distributed worldwide, with subscribers in Arctic Canada to central Africa, from the UK to the Pacific islands.
Copies of every Nautical Magazine issue are held in Brown, Son & Ferguson's current offices in Darnley Street. It has been published continuously since 1832, with the exception of one month, September 1960, when a fire raked through the premises. A double issue was produced the following month.