I DO LOVE a photo with no date! Being sent undated photos is like a little challenge to me, to try to close down the decade the photo was taken, or even possibly find out the year.
I’d seen this photo of Douglas Street before in the late Neil Gordon’s book back in 2004. However, it was grainy and Neil suggested it was the 1880’s, something I don’t agree with. The accumulation of Blantyre knowledge over the years certainly makes dating photos a lot easier, especially if construction and demolition dates for buildings are known. Having been recently sent a better resolution copy by Sandy Wilkie, I was surprised to see Sandy’s photo had a lot more detail on the left hand side, importantly, enough detail, I think to determine the date! It was time to investigate…..
[Sidenote: Douglas Street was named after Neil Douglas, the colliery cashier who lived nearby, although in the 1890’s the street had another name]
At the back left, the Old Parish Church Halls appear in the photo, something that had been previously missing in the older cropped copy. The Halls opened in October 1892, so it couldn’t be the 1880’s after all. The Blantyre map of 1898, surveyed in 1896, shows the whitewashed buildings gone, so the photo MUST have been taken between 1892 and 1896, within a 4 year timeframe. A good start.
Zooming in on the Church Halls, you’ll see there are no metal flashings on the sloping ridge yet! Proving the halls weren’t finished and the ridgeline sloping down to Main Street appears to partially be covered with tarpaulins (to prevent water ingress?). Given it opened in Oct 1892 and there’s leaves on trees behind and assuming this is one of the final things they had to do on the externals of the building, I’d say theres a strong possibility this is Summer/Autumn 1892.
The short shadows on Douglas Street in the rest of the picture also suggest it was taken mid to late morning, the sun high in the eastern side of the sky in summer months.
My conclusion for this amazing photo is Summer or Autumn 1892.