John Kennedy

Chief Engineer

1838 – 1925

“Hey mister, what’s a banana?”

As Chief Engineer on the White Star Line’s ocean steamers ‘British Queen’ and ‘British King’, John Kennedy sailed to places most people of his generation only read about. He was Chief Engineer on the vessel which took Henry Stanley out to Africa in search of David Livingston, and had the privilege of servicing and selling coal for the new steam pinnace used by Stanley to sail up the Zambesi. John carried the officers of the ill-fated Ashanti Expedition out to the west coast of Africa at the beginning of the war in Ashanti.

He was also Chief Engineer on the first ship to bring frozen meat from New Zealand as well as preserved fruit such as bananas. These were unknown in this country, hence the caption. While on home leave in Culzean Cottage, Airdrie, John had a constant stream of youngsters arriving at his door asking to see the marvel, after his young nephews and nieces regaled their friends with tales of their Uncle’s bananas.

John married a Stirling woman, Margaret McAllan, and the worn sandstone monument immediately to the left of this stone marks the family plot. Margaret’s father, John McAllan, was a manufacturer in Stirling; his father-in-law William Mitchell was a dyer. Other members of the family are also buried here.