James Ritchie (b1891-d1917)

These two previously unseen photos are of the same person, Blantyre lad, James Ritchie. However, what is remarkable about them is that they were taken in 1895 and 1908, meaning the earliest photo is 128 years old!

His father was David Ritchie, a master joiner who took the photos given his keen interest in photography. David’s photos often featured his own family. James’ mother was Mary Ann Fleming. His parents married in Strathaven in 1888 before settling down in various places in Blantyre. The family first lived at School Lane which is likely where the earlier photo was taken, then Broompark Avenue following 1905, which could be the setting for the later photo.

James was born on 18th January 1891, the first son, but second child in this family. In 1891 upon his birth, the family lived at the old school house in School Lane, High Blantyre. By 1901, aged 10 the family had moved to Walkers Building on Broompark Road and by this time he had 4 sisters.

Reflecting on the earlier photo of James as a young boy, it’s difficult to imagine how different the world was then. No radio, TV, aeroplanes. Queen Victoria still on the throne, before cars on the roads and almost a decade BEFORE trams even appeared in Blantyre. WW1 was still almost 2 decades away and Blantyre was very much, still a mining village.

Unlike his sisters, James never looks too comfortable in front of the camera, perhaps an impatience with having to sit still for so long for the exposure.

Sadly, his young life was short. Of fighting age, he went off to the European theatre of WW1 and was sadly killed at Flanders on 9 Apr 1917 in France, aged just 26. His bravery and short life is remembered here.

I hope to bring you more photos from this collection, if you want me to? With thanks to Alex Bowie for sharing.

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