Blairgowrie, the largest town on the Cateran Trail, is the source of a great treasure of cultural ‘common wealth’ – The Laing Photographic Collection.
15,000 images taken between 1927 and 1993 from the business of D. Wilson Laing Photographers, Blairgowrie, was acquired by Perth Museum in 1997 and is the subject of an exhibition ‘A Laing Exposure’ at Alyth Museum.
When it was collected in 2008, the collection was divided between Perth Museum & Art Gallery, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland and National Museums, Scotland. Perth Museum selected about 15,000 images and collected the eleven original photographer’s ledgers together with prints and other objects. Most of the plates collected by Perth Museum & Art Gallery are of places in East Perthshire and were either commissioned by the public or local businesses or produced for the press by the Laings.
But Laings were also employed to document important national projects such as the building of the Forth and Tay Road Bridges and the construction of hydroelectric schemes. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments, Scotland collected this contract work. National Museums, Scotland then selected material of particular relevance for the rest of Scotland.
Laings finally closed on 5 July, 1993 when David Constable Laing (David Mitchell Laing’s grandson) and his wife Dorothy retired.
You can watch an amazing wee film about the collection on this link: http://commonculture.org.uk/a-laing-exposure-101014/