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Exhibition details for 43529 - Glass negative mystery - can you help?
Glass negative mystery - can you help?
Uploaded by Clare Padgett
contains 35 images
Glass negative mystery - can you help?
In 2016, one of our former colleagues, John, latterly Team Leader at Oxgangs Library, mentioned to us that he had 'inherited' some glass negatives that had been found in a cupboard in his flat in Claremont Crescent a few years earlier.

He didn't know much about them, or even what or who they were of. Some of them were broken, and before they became more damaged, he offered them to us to investigate and to digitise.

John had mentioned that he had been told that a Polish family had lived next door and although now a guest house, it had previously been a photographer's studio. We did some research and found that an Edmund Elas, who had been born in Poland and had come to settle in Edinburgh after World War Two, had a studio from 1952-1990 at 10 Claremont Crescent. When we digitised the negatives and were able to look closely at the images, we thought they had probably been taken between 1900 and 1930, a little earlier than the time Elas had been there. Nevertheless the photographic connection was there and likely that Elas had acquired them.

At first glance the negatives didn't give away any obvious clues. There were several images of gentlemen posing proudly with trophies, others of Army units and nondescript rows of houses.

When zooming in on the images small clues began to emerge. A gentleman with a trophy has bowls at his feet, and on one of the trophies you can make out the words 'Musselburgh', 'Steeples' and 'shield'. Possibly a bowling trophy? Looking up bowling clubs in Musselburgh, we discovered that at one time there had been four bowling clubs in Musselburgh. We took a chance and emailed Musselburgh Bowling Club to see if they could help. We received a reply from the secretary at the club and he confirmed that there was a Steeples Trophy competed for by clubs in the Musselburgh Local Bowling Association. Looking further there were other connections to Musselburgh. There was an image of a distinctive house that we assumed was a large house or school. A colleague who knows the area, recognised it instantly saying, "that's Crolla's!" A wee bit more digging and we found out that it had once had been Stuart's Net Mill.

Two others we'd thought were Army units, were in fact images of police units. On closer inspection, we made out the collar badge and linked this to the East Lothian (Haddingtonshire) Constabulary.

Although some of the images have been identified, many haven't. Some of the group images have the same background, so we assume that they were all taken in the same studio. Although there are others taken outside a large country home.

Can you help find more clues and identify the people or places? If you've got a missing piece of the puzzle, please contact us via informationdigital@edinburgh.gov.uk