‘Time machine’ archive of 1970s Scotland goes live

Newly digitised images tell the story of rural Scotland in 1970s. Picture: Canmore
Newly digitised images tell the story of rural Scotland in 1970s. Picture: Canmore
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A “time machine” archive of 50,000 photographs that chart Scotland’s towns and countryside during the 1970s has gone live.

The photographs often capture sleepy scenes from Scotland’s quieter corners, such as old prams parked up in deserted villages and the quiet buzz of small town high streets. But the images, which were originally taken to record buildings across Scotland’s rural areas, also inadvertently record a snapshot of Scottish culture of the time.

Millport in Bute: Moments in time captured in some of the newly digitised photgraphs.

Millport in Bute: Moments in time captured in some of the newly digitised photgraphs.

Lesley Ferguson, Head of Archives and Engagement at Historic Environment Scotland, described the collections as a “time machine”.

She said: “Making these two collections available online will make them significantly more accessible to the public so that more people can enjoy them.

“They are like a time machine that takes us back to bell-bottoms, the Bay City Rollers and Ford Capris. Although these surveys were commissioned to document buildings, they recorded so much more.”

The photographs were taken for the Scottish Countryside Commission and C-listed Building surveys.

As a result, lesser-recorded villages and parishes are documented in often street-by-street detail.

Between 1978 and 1981, the Countryside Commission for Scotland undertook a survey of rural buildings to identify traditional building character in Scotland and classify regional and local characteristics.

Carried out by a team of fieldworkers and coordinated by Robert J Naismith, of Glasgow architects firm Sir Frank Mears and Partners, the conclusions were published in Buildings in the Scottish Countryside, 1985.

The List C Survey was commissioned after a review of C-listed buildings gave legal protection to this class of property.

It was decided to survey the buildings to create a record of their existence with the survey carried out by “vocational students” in June 1975.

The archives can be viewed at www.canmore.org.uk.