Old Duns photos go on display

There has recently come into the possession of Dunse History Society a large collection of glass slides - well in excess of 3000.

These slides contain negative images of photographs taken by Leslie Chappell who ran a photography business in Murray Street, Duns, and cover a period from approximately the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

The slides reflect almost every aspect of life in the town and the surrounding area during this time. A great many pertain to private social occasions particularly weddings and to events such as the annual Reiver’s week and the Duns Show.

There are also many general images of the town and of various groups and organisations from school class photographs to photographs of rugby, football, cricket and hockey teams etc., photos of members of different societies, cubs, scouts and guides, old folks’ outings, political meetings, choirs, stage productions, pantomimes, dances, Christmas parties etc. etc. – the whole rich tapestry of life during the period.

As such the images form a unique historical record and the society has set itself the task of digitalising these as well as trying to identify, place, time subject matter, names of people etc – a considerable task.

The slides have suffered in storage, in many instances the quality of the image is poor and they have not previously been recorded or catalogued in any way.

Immediately the society has been able to produce photographic images from some of the slides and these will be on display at an exhibition in the Public Library, Newtown Street, Duns, opening today (Thursday, March 17) and running for the next fortnight. The exhibition will be accessible during normal library opening hours.

It is hoped that members of the public will come along, take a trip down memory lane and help identify the images by jotting down any relevant information (date, place, anyone they recognise) in booklets provided for the purpose. Even for people with no connection with Duns during this period the exhibition will provide an interesting insight into how things were.

Looking at the images it is amazing how much has changed or remained much the same since the photos were taken – fashion obviously (some of the ball gowns were wonderful), cars, machinery and technology likewise (there are some fine photographs of the old telephone exchange) but townscape not so much although the now demolished Town Hall does feature quite a bit.

Other changes noted were the number of people who seemed to smoke, the sauce bottles on the tables at even quite sophisticated functions and the images of a black and white minstrel show which would today be so politically incorrect.

The society would like to record their thanks to Mona Edgar who has already spent a lot of time putting names to faces and to Betty Snow and Donald Ritchie who have been working on trying to improve the quality of the images.

Quite independently the society has also recently received two substantial donations of photographs and other documents from Ramsay Brack and Jimmy Foreman, both greatly appreciated and all adding to the society’s rapidly growing collection which is always available to members for consultation and historical or family research.