Horse and cart trundles up towards Bowhead House and the Lawnmarket in the Old Town.

These astonishing photos of Edinburgh were taken in the middle of the 19th century

They are among the most incredible and historically important images of Edinburgh ever captured – and they were saved from almost certain destruction 70 years ago.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 12:47 pm

Pioneering photographer Thomas Vernon Begbie produced more than 400 glass plate negatives of the Capital from the late 1850s onwards when photography was still in its infancy.

The astonishing collection, which includes a large variety of stereo views taken all over the city, was discovered in a house in St James’ Square in 1950, where Begbie was born 110 years earlier. Had Begbie’s cache of images not been uncovered, they would've likely been destroyed a decade later when three sides of St James’ Square were demolished.

Begbie’s images were later gifted to the City of Edinburgh by Stanley Cavaye and the collection of glass negatives are currently held at the City Art Centre.

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