Hundreds of old Scottish island photographs dating back to 70s saved by council waste operator

Bags of thousands of old slides featuring images of wildlife and local life on a Scottish island have been rescued from being dumped with a view to preserving them in a museum’s picture archive.

Paul Moar, who works at the Gremista Waste Management Facility in Lerwick, Shetland, was taken aback after local photographer Nick Dymond asked him where he could dispose of his mass of old photographs.

After being told that many of the slides featured photographs of the island dating back to the 70s, Paul asked if he could keep them to look through them.

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

The waste operator subsequently spent eight hours sifting through the bundles of slides, picking out the images of local life on Shetland.

A walrus at Gutcher, taken in the 1980s picture: Nick Dymond

"I found about 300 images of the island,” he said.

"Loads of them are of local residents, wildlife on Shetland and the island's landscape.

"I am just so glad I was there to save them – it was a real right place at the right time moment.”

Paul said the photographs include a number of old pictures of Fair Isle, where Nick worked as an assistant warden at the bird observatory in 1966, a walrus at Gutcher and a shot of an old P&O boat St. Clair.

Images, including one of a walrus at Gutcher taken in the 80s, were rescued by council waste operator Paul Moar picture: Nick Dymond

There are also images of fisherman at sea, crofters at work and what appears to be a photo of famous Shetland birder Bill Oddie.

"When he said he wanted to get rid of them I thought that maybe there would be a few we could hand over to the Shetland Museum picture archive,” Paul said.

"It’s great to have been able to save a little bit of Shetland treasure, and Nick couldn’t have been nicer about it too.

"I know people on the island will appreciate seeing some of his work.”

Picture of local fisherman on Shetland in the 70s picture: Nick Dymond

Among the bags of slides were photos of Nick’s travels from all over the world.

The 77-year-old is a keen adventurer and has spent many years travelling around Asia and West Africa and recently completed a trip in South America.

His said his reason behind dumping the pictures was to declutter.

"I have boxes and boxes of slides and they’re just getting in the way,” he said.

Picture of local island life on Shetland in the 70s picture: Nick Dymond

"The ones of Shetland were taken a long time ago but it’s nice to see someone wants to do something with them.

"I actually gave up photography a while ago when the older camera models stopped and everything went digital.

"I also realised I spent far too long looking through a camera at wildlife and wanted to just be able to look at them myself. So now, when I can, I go off travelling without the camera.”

Nick was a former RSPB warden for Fetlar and has written a book on Fair Isle birds.

After their lucky chance meeting at the dump, Paul managed to track down the photographer with the help of Facebook to ask for his permission to post the pictures online.

A collection of his photographs showing local life on the island can be found online in a Shetland memories Facebook group which has been well-received by the community.

The bag of slides taken by Nick Dymond of life on Shetland picture: Paul Moar

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Photo of farmland on Shetland Island taken by Neil Dymond in the 1970s picture: Nick Dymond
Picture of people on Shetland picture: Nick Dymond
Picture of people boarding a boat in the Shetland Isles picture: Nick Dymond
 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.