How was a heavily industrialised community in rural Stirlingshire, where some families slept six or seven to a room, transformed into a leafy commuter village?
Photographer Martin Shields and Writer Anne Johnstone used a remarkable archive of old post-cards and family photographs as the basis for their project. Martin recreated the best of them as they are today, while Anne unearthed the stories behind the places and people in both the old and modern images. The result is a remarkable record of continuity and change.
This book is no longer available locally but may be available at second-hand bookshops or on ebay.
One of the images from the book
It seems a long time since, having admired the slide show of old village photographs and post-
cards assembled by Strathblane Heritage Society, Martin and I simultaneously came up with the same
idea while standing in the morning coffee queue at the Herald in Glasgow where we both work. Why
not choose the most interesting scenes, take contemporary photographs of the same places and try to
tell some of the stories behind them?
Of course, this was easier said than done. We both work shifts and initially never seemed to be
off at the same time. Martin had to cope with changes in camera equipment that made it difficult to rep-
licate the old views precisely, not to mention all the trees that have grown up in the past 100 years. I
found that talking to those who appeared in our new pictures and the descendants of some of those
who featured in the old ones turned up a treasure trove of stories, some poignant, some humorous but
all fascinating. There was also plentiful material bequeathed by village historian Alison Dryden and
from the Victorian chronicler of the parish, the incomparable John Guthrie Smith. As a result, what be-
gan as simple captions grew like topsy. While some scenes have barely changed, others are only recog-
nisable from the profile of the Campsies in the background. From the word go, everyone we have contacted seemed to share our enthusiasm for the project and that is reflected in the final text and pictures.
Next, artist Roy Petrie generously volunteered to design and lay out the book and has done a
magnificent job, devoting many hours to the task. The result is a real work of art that brings to life
Strathblane and Blanefield, old and new, in a way we had not believed possible. In particular, he has
risen to the challenge of conveying the essence of the book in the designs for the front and back covers.
To do justice to everyone's efforts the result will be a 72-page full colour book in an A4 landscape hard-
back format that would grace any coffee table-and the back cover includes a ringing endorsement
from journalist and broadcaster, Sally Magnusson. Inside are Ordnance Survey maps of the area from
around the years 1900 and 2000 and a copy obtained from the National Archives of one of the original
designs for calico fabric printing registered by the Blanefield Printworks in the 1880s, as well as thirty
double-page spreads on the now and then theme.
We're pleased to say that, unlike so many books published these days, it will be produced here
in Scotland by two Glasgow companies, J McVicar Printers and Cameron Bookbinders.