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Old Central Scotland

24/02/2010

Dating from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century, these images of central Scotland remind us of the ever-changing nature of our rural and urban landscapes. Agriculture still dominated much of the region’s rural life, traditional buildings like those photographed around Aberfeldy were commonplace, and the crowded harbours at Crail and Anstruther Easter bear witness to the importance of the fishing industry to coastal communities. By contrast, in Dundee, images of smoking chimneys on the city skyline show how manufacturing had come to dominate the urban economy, with strong links, particularly through the jute industry, to the British Empire. The wealth created by trade financed the construction of not only grand civic buildings, such as Dundee’s Albert Institute and the Town House, but also, as at Stanley Mills, imposing monuments to industry. Victorian development engulfed many traces of central Scotland’s medieval infrastructure, and, in turn, a large number of fine Victorian buildings were sadly undervalued in the twentieth century and have been demolished. With change a constant in our built environment, a photographic record that stretches as far back as possible into the past, and is maintained in the present, is invaluable if we are to understand the history and development of Scotland’s places in the future.