Nicolson's Wigtownshire Photographs

In 1994 Stranraer Museum was given a collection of glass photographic negatives from the Nicol family of Wigtown, who for two generations ran a chemist's business in the town's High Street. The photographs had been taken by the Nicols' predecessor, Mr Alan M Nicolson, who came to Wigtown in the late nineteenth century and was in the High Street premises for about twenty-five years until he sold the business to Mr W G Nicol in 1914.

As the glass negatives reveal, Nicolson was also a skilled photographer. On the High Street premises he had a dark room and a studio, where he took portraits of families, individuals, and even dogs. The dark room and studio, situated in a building to the rear, still stand today. However he was better known for publishing a series of postcards of Wigtown and the surrounding area. While he took and developed the photographs for the postcards himself, the latter were actually printed in Germany. Most of the negatives given to the Museum are of pictures for postcards but a few are studio portraits. The Museum also has a number of the finished postcards and a comparison of negative and postcard of the same picture shows that the negative was cut down to produce a postcard showing a smaller area. While, understandably, most of the photographs are of Wigtown, the geographic range is from Creetown in the east to Glenluce in the west. They all appear to have been taken between 1905 and 1914.

The collection consists of 129 negatives, most in surprisingly good condition. Taken together, the scenes, portraits, and group photographs provide a vivid picture of life in this area in the years immediately before the First World War.

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