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The Morrison Collection

The James Morrison Photographic Collection
1890 - 1925

The collection was discovered in 1985 in an old blocked up cupboard in the farm house at Stoneyards Belhelvie where James Morrison had lived from around 1870. Mr and Mrs Sibald the owners of Stoneyards in 1985 discovered the glass plates during renovations to the house.

The plates were later passed to the Buchan Heritage Society, giving them sole ownership and copyright, with the support and approval of James Morrison's two daughters.
Some work was carried out on the collection at that time by the late Eric Ellington with financial support from BP.

This is a unique collection, most of which has never been seen by the public before, little did James Morrison think as he travelled around rural Aberdeenshire on his cycle, and later motor cycle, that we would again be looking at his view of country life over a hundred years on, marvelling at his ability as an amateur photographer.

The collection consists of over six hundred and fifty glass plate negatives all of which have now been digitised.

They mostly depict rural life in an area north of Aberdeen from 1890 to 1925 looking at portraits of families and farm workers the farms and crofts of that time and particularly the horse and the dedicated men who worked the land

This collection provides an excellent view of our heritage and social history as well as the value to educational.

James Morrison was born in 1865 to farmer's son William Morrison and his wife Jane Murray at Newseat of Schivas in the parish of Tarves. He was the eldest of five children.

They moved to Stoneyards of Belhelvie, a fifty acre farm, around 1870 where later James worked alongside his father at Stoneyards.

He married Helen Riddell in 1911 at the age of forty six and had three of a family. His son, also James, became a policeman in London and his two daughters Mary and Rosa who never married and continued to stay in the family home at Menie.

He was a very sociable man with an interest in the traditions and played the pipes and the fiddle. He was a very distinguished member of the coast guard service and was a member for fifty years.

After coming off the farm he started up as cycle agent at his home at Menie. He died there in 1952 and is buried in Belhelvie Church yard

He is believed to have taken up photography as hobby in the 1880s achieving a very high degree of skill.

We applied to "The Heritage Lottery Fund and were very fortunate in being successful with our application to preserve and digitise this unique collection
We only received the funding from HLF based on the outcomes from the project using the collection in education, school workshops, community groups, reminiscence groups and presenting the collection to the public in general.
The bulk of our funding went to cleaning and conserving the plates to a very high standard by skilled professionals.
This was carried out at Hopetoun House in Edinburgh by Helen Creasy and her staff at the Scottish Conservation Studio.
The digitising was carried out by Harvey Wood also from Edinburgh who works closely with the conservation studio and has over twenty years of experience in this field.

The collection covers a wide and diverse view of life; most of his prints include people from all levels of society, a great glimpse of the work and daily darg of people in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries and particularly the First World War period. They also show the great pride and relationship of men and horse.

We have a number of venues planned where the complete collection will be made available. They are

25/09/2011 Aden Country Park Theatre
29/09/2011 Fyvie Castle Launch
10/10/2011 Buchan Field Club Stuartfield
17/10/2011 Jamie Nicol Court Sheltered Housing Strichen
08/11/2011 Kirkburn Court Care Home Peterhead
11/11/2011 Mintlaw Public Hall - Open Display
14/11/2011 Aberdeenshire Teacher Training Day - Mintlaw
15/11/2011 Kirkburn Court Care Home Peterhead
16/11/2011 Abbey Court Care Home - Mintlaw
22/11/2011 Abbey Court Care Home - Mintlaw
07/12/2011 Turriff Heritage Society - Turriff

12/02/2012 Longside Parish Church Hall - Open Day
26/02/2012 Belhelvie Community Hall - Open Day
14/03/2012 Peterhead Senior Citizens Club
26/03/2012 Buchan Family History Society Peterhead
30/03/2012 Methlick Heritage Society - Open Day (afternoon)
30/03/2012 Methlick Heritage Society - Open Day (evening)
11/05/2012 Northeaast Library Service Strichen Inservice
13/05/2012 Foveren Community hall - Open Day
18/05/2012 Society Strichen Festival - Ritchie Hall Strichen
16/09/2012 Abbey Court Care Home - Mintlaw
19/09/2012 Stuartfield Senior Citizens
25/09/2012 Portsoy Care Home
27/09/2012 Mintlaw Academy - Work Experience History of Work
30/09/2012 Aden Country Park Tractor Open Day
08/10/2012 Tortiston SWRI - Peterhead
24/10/2012 Probus Club Fraserburgh
November 2012 Cruden Bay Library

January 2013 Peterhead Library
19/2/2013 to 4/3/2013 Strichen Library
4/3/2013 to 8/3/2013 New Pitsligo Library
10/3/2013 Aden Park Theatre Mintlaw
15/3/2013 to 19/3/2013 Mintlaw Library
20/3/2013 Aberdour

There are only a small number of the photographs in the collection where we have accurate information of their content, therefore, at these displays we need your help to identify people and places in the photographs and forms are available for the public to do this at each venue.


To view a sample of some of the Morrison photographs please click here

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