Founding of the OEC
In the early 20th century, several photographic societies in Britain
turned their attention to making a photographic record of their
Around this time, on 3 December 1907, a meeting was held at John Knox House
in Edinburgh High Street,
gentlemen interested in the formation of a Reekiana** Club for the
preservation of old Edinburgh lore in some permanent form".
used to be known as Old Reekie because of the smoky haze or reek that used
to hang over the city.
There were 14 present at the 1907 meeting:
- JA Barrie
- Hugh Carbarns
- Robert Cochrane
- Andrew Edie
- WJ Hay
- John W Hewart
- JS Kay, Jun.
- LA Mackechnie
- AP Profit
- Alan Reid
- JC Robbie
- AW Sinclair
- Adam Smith
- a reporter from The Scotsman.
W J Hay
Mr Hay was an Edinburgh Photographer who produced a
range of post cards of Edinburgh scenes. He lived and worked at John
Knox House. He stated that he:
"had felt the growing necessity
for a society having for its objects the preservation of information
regarding Edinburgh life in pre-railway days".
It was agreed to form a constitution, and to hold a
Public Meeting. At a meeting on 18 December 1907, it was agreed that
the name of the society should be:
The Old Edinburgh Club.
An inaugural meeting was held on 29 January 1908.
Subscriptions were set at 10s 6d for Members and 2s 6d for Associate
Members. At the meeting, WJ Hay commented:
"There is enough
material in Grant's Old & New Edinburgh to keep the Club going for two
years correcting its mistakes"
[Glasgow Herald: 30 Jan 02]
In February 1908, the Club's Council of the Old
Edinburgh Club included the
photographers WJ Hay and
[Minutes of the Old Edinburgh Club]
The Old Edinburgh still thrives into 2008 and
- It continues to publish research into
Edinburgh in its Journal, 'The Book of the Old
- It holds a series of Lectures, open to
the public, each year.
- It holds occasional tours and visits.
The club marked its centenary in 2008 with:
- a Conference, and
- a walk around the old Edinburgh City Walls.
This walk followed, as closely as possible the route taken exactly a
century earlier, on July 18, 1908, when Members of the newly formed Old
Edinburgh Club had been invited to join the Edinburgh Photographic Society
on their walk around the walls.
About 70 Members of the OEC wished to join the 2008 walk, so it was repeated the
following day, 19 July 2008, with about 35 members joining each walk. The leader
of both the 2008 walks was Graham Cruickshank of the Old Edinburgh Club.
He can be seen dressed in green in the thumbnail image at the bottom of
The walk in 1908 had been organised by the
Survey Section of Edinburgh Photographic
16 Dec 2014
The 1908 Ramble
Here is an account of that walk taken from the journal,
'Photography'. This brief account appeared in the journal's
'Snapshots' pages. These pages gave brief accounts of events and
news from photographic societies around Britain.
Edinburgh Photographic Society
"The annual ramble of the survey section of
the Edinburgh Photographic Society took the form of a walk round the line
of the old walls of the city, and a visit to Heriot's Hospital.
The oak panelling and old paintings on the
walls of the Council Chamber, which had been in use since the building of
the 'Hospital' in 1659.
The massive stone mantelpieces in the kitchen,
and the carved oak pulpit in the chapel were all much admired, as was the
quaint carving round the quadrangle and on the front of the building."
Source: Photography (28 July 1908) with
Ron Cosens (12 Dec 2014) for sending a copy of this article to me.
The 2008 Walk
Please click on the thumbnail image to see one of the photos taken on
the 2008 walk around the Edinburgh City Walls