The members of North Bute Literary Society had a visual treat when Eleanor McKay, the Local Studies Librarian for Argyll and Bute, showed them some of the fascinating photographs taken by the MacGrory brothers of Campbeltown. Depicting all aspects of life in Kintyre, these were taken between 1890 and 1910.
The brothers, Charles and Dennis, were gifted amateurs who photographed lively outdoor scenes in their spare time from the family Outfitters business. The brothers were well known in Campbeltown and very active in many areas of local life – Town Councillors, members of St Kiernan’s church, Volunteers in the Argyle and Bute Auxiliary, the RNLI, the harbour committee and the Liberal Club. Consequently the people in the images all appear very relaxed being photographed.
Eleanor explained that prints have been made from the huge number of heavy glass plate negatives and the collection is now being digitised. The pictures are catalogued by topic and as examples she brought 4 of the 40 albums. There are both work related scenes and leisure activities. The clothes worn by the folk of Campbeltown always attract interest eg one group of 100 adults and children on a church outing where less than twenty are without hats. Military historians are interested in the uniforms worn by the Volunteers at camp and on parade. The brothers even took a picture of a page from the Liberal Club’s Visitors Book showing the signatures of both Asquith and Campbell Bannerman.
The MacGrory Brothers Collection is a great asset not only to Campbeltown but to the whole of Argyle and Bute, as the clothes, equipment, transport, occupations and activities depicted would have been much the same over the whole area, including Rothesay - a true ‘snapshot’ of life in 1890 – 1910. Eleanor explained that Charles and Dennis were by no means pioneering photographers as the hobby was already well established, but, with the use of their heavy cameras and tripods, they produced the beautiful and fascinating photographs on show.
The next meeting of the Lit on Tuesday 18th February will be much more aural in nature when Roy Surtees returns to the topic of Edward and Mrs Simpson – the Windsor Years.