Peep into Falkirk’s past through camera lens

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It would take a large volume of work to catalogue the forgotten landscapes, fashions, working conditions and all the other aspects of Falkirk life in bygone eras.

Reading it would take weeks, months even, so it’s a difficult task to capture the fabric of life in the district’s diverse and eclectic communities to give people an idea of how local lifestyles and towns have changed within a small time frame.

One of the more intriguing shots in the exhibition which charts Falkirk life

One of the more intriguing shots in the exhibition which charts Falkirk life

Falkirk Community Trust has done it though with a fascinating peep at the past through an archive of old photos given to them by The Falkirk Herald spanning the early decades of the 20th century through the eyes of our photographers.

The pictures are drawn from plate glass negatives to show glimpses of past lives with many of them never seen before.

The trust’s museum curator, Naimh Conlon, and her team have poured over hundreds of photographs stored in their archives – housing approximately 37,000 pics – to exhibit 97 historic shots.

Niamh said: “The idea for the exhibition came from seeing these wonderful images of the area and wanting to share them.

“We have used images from the collection in the past but I thought it would be nice to get some of the lesser known and ‘never before seen in exhibition’ ones together for a show.

“As they are glass plate negatives they are of a very high quality and they can be printed to a large size which gives the viewer a chance to really see the detail, which is phenomenal. It’s similar to the digital quality we have these days.

“Some of the images you can spend ages just looking at things in the background, never mind the actual subject, which makes them interesting on a number of levels.

“They show the area as it has changed and they also show how our lives have changed, from the way we work to the clothes we wear so there is something for everyone.”

Fashions, architecture and industries that were familiar to our parents and grandparents have all changed, been destroyed or closed down and the exhibition focuses on every aspect of local life.

The Falkirk Herald has been charting life in district since 1845 covering events such as the legislation passed in Parliament in August 1859 that brought about the birth of modern Falkirk, the closure of the world famous Carron Works, opening of the Falkirk Wheel and the Redding Pit disaster in September 1913 when 40 miners died.

Some of the pictures in the exhibition include a fire at the Scottish Tar Works in the 1950s,Max Bygraves visiting The Roxy in 1950, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visiting Grangemouth in 1955, a goal from Falkirk FC’s Scottish Cup final win over Kilmarnock at Hampden in 1957 and the Steeple after it was struck by lightning in 1927.

Niamh added: “ We all know that society has changed dramatically since the early 20th century and there are pictures that will make you laugh or ask questions and just simply study all the things you can see in the photo.

“One in particular I like is of a man working at the top of a telegraph pole. I don’t think he’d be able to work in the same way these days. I think there would be health and safety issues with that.

“Another couple we found really interesting are of a boy on a horse with a dog next to him. In one he’s smiling away with the dog and in the other the dog, which looks quite fearsome, is falling off the horse making for a really striking image.

“There are a lot of obscure ones in the exhibition as well, ones no one will ever have seen before and some that haven’t been printed in the newspaper either.

“The pictures are so gorgeous. Even if you are not from this area, people will enjoy the exhibition.”

The exhibition runs until Sunday, September 29 at Callendar House. Opening times are Monday to Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sundays, 2 - 5 p.m. Entry is free.