OLD PHOTOGRAPHS OF LOCHWINNOCH
This is an updated version of a “footnote” to an article I wrote for the Community Council Newsletter in August 2017. On reflection, the original wording of the footnote, which gave the background to the collection of old photographs of the village, understated the extraordinary legacy left to us. It also failed to give sufficient prominence to the contribution of the brothers, John and Pat Smith. I hope this version makes proper amends. I’m grateful to all those who have commented on the original wording and for the additional information they have provided.
Lochwinnoch is indeed fortunate to have had its physical and social development recorded in photographs and that this wonderful collection remains accessible to anyone with an interest in the village of the past. Different claims are made as to the origin of the photographs and this article seeks to provide clarification.
Peter Dewar is arguably the
man to whom the greatest debt
is owed by those who have
viewed and enjoyed the earliest
photographs of the village.
Peter arrived in Lochwinnoch
in the 1880’s from his home
town of Whitburn. He was
employed as an assistant to
James Orr, the owner of a
grocery, wine and spirits
business located at the Cross.
On the death of James Orr,
Dewar became the owner and
carried on the business until
his death in1923.
Peter Dewar was the first villager to own a car, one of the first to own a camera, had one of the few phonographs, and was a keen astronomer. He was also Treasurer of the old West United Free Church. Peter was found dead in his shop where he had been working on the accounts.His house-keeper had a lifetime of his estate (on Peter’s death she could remain in the house until she decided to leave) and on her death residue was divided between the West Church and the District Nursing Association.
His photographic record of village life spanning over
30 years from 1890-1923 took the form of old
“magic lantern” glass slides, half-plate negatives,
and latterly, photographs.
The collection in its entirety was bequeathed in his
will to Mr Gavin Love, father of the late Parker Love and grandfather of the late Sheena Robertson and her sister Kathleen Ross.
Parker enhanced the collection
using photographs taken by
another village resident,
Mr David Smith who lived in
Kinaros on Johnshill for some
years. David Smith’s images
covered the period from 1925
till the late 1930’s. Another
source was Mr A.J. Fenn from
Wiltshire whose interest in
photographs of the village arose
after he bought an album of
Peter Dewar’s photographs in a bookshop in Dunkeld! Unfortunately, the photos of the village taken by Mr Fenn on his annual summer visits were not separately identified within the overall collection. Later, Parker Love was greatly indebted to Mr John Smith who reproduced the old glass slides and photographs as transparencies.
After Parker Love’s death, John Smith and his brother Pat (Senior) continued to present “magic lantern” shows for villagers. Both men were excellent photographers and added many of their own images of the village and of villagers to the presentations. This ensured that the original work of Peter Dewar continued into a new era of the village’s development. The photographs of John and Pat Smith form the nucleus of the “collection” covering the latter decades of the 1900’s. One particular project with which Pat Smith was associated with the production of “travel card photographs” of villagers. Pat would set up a booth in the McKillop Hall and produce passport style photos for villagers applying for an early incarnation of today’s travel concession card.
The scope and the quality of the photographic record of Lochwinnoch, the people and the places both past and present, is a legacy for which all those mentioned in this article are owed a huge debt of gratitude.
Principal Source: Transcript of interview with Parker Love
Special Thanks: Annette Bachelor, Great-Niece of Peter Dewar
Adrian Tharme, February 2019