meetings were originally held by the Photographic Society of Scotland.
EPS carried on this tradition from 1861 onwards. These meetings
were held at on Saturday evenings, at 117 George Street for some years, but moved in 1867 to
Queen Street Hall, so as to accommodate the large audience more
few meetings may be missing from the list of Popular Meetings.
The EPS Minute Books for
the years 1861 to 1865 cannot be found, and the meetings may not all
have been reported in the Photographic Journals.
visitor to William Neilson’s meeting “Trossachs
in 1866 seems to have been particularly impressed.
meeting was very numerously attended.
A bond of Brotherhood, so to speak, is engendered. Experiences
are given by men of outstanding ability whose sage counsel and thorough
practical knowledge are of the utmost service to those who, it may be,
are only on the threshold, and with timorous steps feeling their way to
attain to some degree of perfection in what they have put their hands to
- men to whom, because of their skill, we make profound obeisance, and
cherish the memory of others who have been removed from this sublunary
sphere giving us all an encouragement to emulate them.
Such men as I have indicated have been, and are now, on the roll
of membership of the Edinburgh Photographic Society.”
to five Popular Meetings were held each year, during the winter season.
They were open to Members of Edinburgh Photographic Society and
also to members of the Public. Meetings continued until early 20th
they were discontinued as a result of competition from cinematography.
were typically travelogues, illustrated with Magic Lantern Slides. By
the early 1880s, one meeting per year was devoted to lantern slides by
members of EPS, and music and singing was introduced into these meetings
- a feature seldom seen at EPS recently (except for the President’s
Evening in 1990 when the President, Brian Covell sang “I am the
Captain of the EPS”).
the 1880s, the Western Choral Society were regular contributors to the
EPS Popular Meetings. A
report on the 1887 Meeting read:
the evening, a select musical party, under the superintendence of Mr
William Dougall, greatly added to the enjoyable character of the
evening. Miss Hamilton, Mr and Mrs Sinclair and Mr Wright were the
vocalists, Miss Shepherd being the accompanist; while ex-Bailie Powrie,
of Leith, played in excellent style a selection of Scotch Airs upon the
violin. Several encores were called for and all the arrangements
this time, 1400 free tickets were being issued for each Popular Meeting.
Typically 700 people attended, and sometimes as many as 1,000.
Ticket for EPS Popular Meeting - 1881
by courtesy of Edinburgh Photographic Society
ticket above is one of a set of three distributed to every EPS
Member. EPS Members were entitled to attend Popular Meetings
without charge, but the rules varied from year to year on whether
or not they could also take a guest each, free of charge.
Note the last line of the ticket. There had been problems at
earlier Popular Meetings with youths who used pea-shooters from
of the expenses, recorded in the EPS Cash Books for some of the Popular
Meeting in the 1880s, was the charge of about for the Police Constable
on duty. This charge varied between 1/1d and 1/10d per meeting.
for 1s6d for the Police Constable on Duty
by courtesy of Edinburgh Photographic Society
at Popular Meetings
occasions there were problems. At
the March 1877 meeting:
was a large and attentive audience, and but for an unfortunate leakage
in one of the gas bags which prevented the whole of the pictures being
shown, it would have been very successful.”
another occasion, EPS Council considered how to respond to a problem at
a recent Popular Meeting. The Council’s report read:
annoyance was given by a number of young people during the evening, by
shouting, spitting and throwing peas from the gallery.
It was resolved that no boys or girls will be admitted unless in
the charge of someone who will be responsible for their good conduct
during the evening.”
Meetings gave the audience the opportunity to see other parts of the
world. Andre Pringle was a
popular speaker. His Scots
style can be seen from this extract of his lecture “A
Jaunt in Spain”,
given to EPS in 1887
maybe hae mind that twa-three years syne I wrote ye a letter in the auld
Scots tongue aboot a jaunt I was takin’ in Italy, the land o’
bawbees an’ beggars; an’ the nicht I’m gaun tae try to gie ye a
bit glint intae Spain, the land o’ bulls an’ biggins an maybe o’ a
geed wheen blethers. Aye!
There’s a gey lot o’ bletherin’ aboot the land o’ Spain”
the late 1890s, some of the evenings included Living
Pictures by means of the Cinematograph.
It was the arrival of the Cinematograph that led to the demise
in of EPS’s Popular Meetings with their lantern slides in 1900.