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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
David McLean

Mystery family in amazing 1950s snaps tracked down in Cumbernauld thanks to Glasgow photographer

A family has been reunited with a poignant set of snaps taken more than 60 years ago after a Glasgow photographer discovered them gathering dust in a charity shop.

Glasgow-based snapper Gary Alan recently picked up a large box of vintage photography equipment from the Recap goods recycling charity in Cumbernauld. The professional photographer was amazed to find his purchase included a number of family photos.

Several of the images showed a family on holiday in Oostende, Belgium, in the 1950's, with one taken in a back garden next to an Anderson shelter. There were also two portraits shots featuring unidentified men in naval uniform.

One of the men is pictured at sea holding a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) lifebelt, emblazoned with the ship’s name, RFA Beauharnois. None of the photographs included any information about the people in the frame or when they were taken, save for one of the Belgium photos, which had ‘August 1958’ written on the rear side.

READ MORE: The rare photos of Glasgow that were rescued from an architect's skip

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Intent on returning the photos to the family or their descendants, Gary set about the unlikely task of tracking them down, and took to social media to get the ball rolling.

Speaking to Glasgow Live , Gary, 32, said: “When I was looking through this big box of goodies from Recap, there were all these old glass plates, which must have belonged to whoever originally owned the equipment. Holding the images up to the light, you could see this family.

"I just thought, ‘I need to return them’. I put out a plea on my own page on Facebook and the post soon ended up with 900 shares.

"People were getting right into it.”

Keen to spread the word further, on Sunday Gary sent a message to the popular Lost Glasgow Facebook page in a hope that someone among the site’s 176,000 followers might be able to help. It would turn out to be just the ticket.

Within hours of Lost Glasgow sharing Gary’s appeal, a man named William Richmond, got in touch to say his dad was one of the men in naval uniform. What’s more, the man in question, Royal Fleet Auxiliary veteran William Richmond snr, was still alive and residing in Cumbernauld.

Gary, who was born in Glasgow, but now lives in Cumbernauld, said: “I was jumping for joy - absolutely buzzing. I had kind of reserved myself to the thought that I was never going to get anywhere with my search, so it was amazing when the guy’s son spotted the post and said, ‘that’s my dad!’.”

Having now shown him the pictures, William Richmond says he has been enjoying hearing his father, who is now 87, reminisce about old times. He reckons the photographs had belonged to his paternal grandfather, but still has no clue how they ended up in a charity shop.

He told Glasgow Live : “We have no idea how they got there, that’s what’s kind of intriguing. The Belgium photos show my uncle Walter and my dad’s mum on holiday.

"The man with the RFA lifebelt is my dad and the other Royal Navy photo shows my uncle Tom with his white cap. They were taken around 1956/57, my dad reckons.

“My dad doesn’t have the internet, so while we’re all quite excited, for him he’s just like, ‘oh, aye, that’s our Tam there' and 'I was on that boat for 10 months - that was an auld tub!’. He’s been all around the world and it’s great to have him coming out with all these wee stories we’ve never heard before.

"It's all quite amazing, and out of the blue. It’s strange how the internet works.We’re going to try and meet Gary next week, as he’s loads more photographs to share with us.”

Norry Wilson of the Lost Glasgow Facebook page says he’s delighted to have played a part in reuniting the Richmonds with a little piece of their family history.

He said: “I always talk about these kinds of photographs that are essentially ‘orphan images’. It’s lovely to be able to send some orphans home.

"They’re no longer orphans.”


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