They are intimate family photographs which show members of a family enjoying a picnic and attending a wedding in the north-east of Scotland in the early 1950s.
And the collection even includes correspondence from the former Princess Royal, which was sent to a company in Aberdeen’s Union Street, offering thanks for the efforts of a driver who managed to cope with inclement weather conditions at a soggy Royal Highland Show.
Knotty little mystery
However, these are not artefacts which have been uncovered in the Granite City during an office clean-up or relocation – but instead, the items have been found by a library in Wales and have prompted staff there to ask the Press and Journal if we can intervene.
It’s a knotty little mystery after the best part of 70 years, but here are some of the images which might shed light on a solution in the search for the “Walker” family who feature in many of these old snapshots.
There’s a young baby in one of the pictures and young children in at least two of the collection which has been passed on to us by Sheila Maxwell at the library.
She explained that she and her colleagues have already taken steps to learn more in recent months, but to no avail.
She added: “Last year, the Harlech Library and Institute, a small local charity, helped to clear the library at Coleg Harlech, which was Wales’ only adult residential college, set up in 1927 to provide a place where working-class adults, who had given proof of ability and devotion to learning, could be free to pursue a course of systematic study.
“The college closed in 2017, but over the course of 90 years, had collected some 30,000 books which were housed in a purpose-built library.
“Attempts were made to find a home for the collection, but shortage of storage space in the National Library of Wales and other archives meant that it was split up.
“With the aid of a small grant, we have created a new community reference library in our building in the High Street. In addition to books, we acquired photographs which were of interest to the community. And after working our way through the photos – which were kept in the basement – we have separated those we do not recognise.
“Among these are a substantial number of family photos – some of which have the name ‘Walker’ and show a number of scenes in Aberdeen. We have looked for a Walker connection in Harlech, but as yet have found nothing.
“There was a golf professional (Maitland J Walker) at the St David’s course before the First World War and a Humphrey Walker who had a holiday home in Harlech from the 1920s to the 1940s, but we have no leads to further information.
“Quite a number of them were taken in Aberdeen, so we thought we would try the Press and Journal, particularly as one of the photos has the P&J stamp on it.
There are fairly precise details on some of the images. The snap above was taken at the wedding of one Rita Littlejohn, which took place in November 1950.
Then there is the picnic grouping from 1952 and the letter from the Princess Royal’s lady-in-waiting Lady Paynter, which is dated June 23 1951.
This short note, addressed simply to “Mr Walker, Messrs Rossleigh Ltd, 383 Union Street, Aberdeen, reads: “The Princess Royal bids me write and thank you for your care when driving Her Royal Highness under such difficult circumstances at the Royal Highland Show.
“It was indeed unfortunate to have such a downpour, but thanks to the Land Rover, Her Royal Highness was able to see all the exhibits.”
Thus, between 1948 and 1951, it alternated from Bucht Park in Inverness to Riverside Drive in Dundee, then on to St James Park near Paisley.
That was the prelude to the 1951 quagmire at Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, which soon turned into a boggy morass and led to Wellington boots being sold out in quick time.
At least, the Royal letter seems to pinpoint where Mr Walker was working at the time. But who was he? And can any of his family shed light on these items ending up in Wales?
Ms Maxwell added: “At the moment, we have no idea why these photos should have been in the college library, but we we would be keen to find out more.
“And we think that it would be a shame to abandon them without making some effort at reuniting them with the family.”
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