Old Edinburgh Club



Founding of the OEC

Photographic Surveys

In the early 20th century, several photographic societies in Britain turned their attention to making a photographic record of their neighbourhood.

Around this time, on 3 December 1907, a meeting was held at John Knox House in Edinburgh High Street,

"comprising gentlemen interested in the formation of a Reekiana** Club for the preservation of old Edinburgh lore in some permanent form"

**  Edinburgh 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 Hippolyte Blanc.
[Minutes of the Old Edinburgh Club]



OEC Centenary


The Old Edinburgh still thrives into 2008 and beyond.

-  It continues to publish research into Edinburgh in its Journal, 'The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club'.

-   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 this page.

The walk in 1908 had been organised by the Survey Section of Edinburgh Photographic Society.


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

Old Edinburgh

"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 acknowledgement to
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

Walk around the City Walls  -  July 18, 2008 :