Robert Braid produced thousands of images from 1902-1914

One of Robert Braid's postcard images
One of Robert Braid's postcard images

Early pioneer of picture postcard photography

Between 1902 and 1914, Robert Braid turned out thousands of photographic images from his tiny darkroom at the back of Livingston Village Post office.

Braid was cashing in on the postcard craze which swept Britain at the time when, for just one half of an old penny, a postcard could be sent to any corner of the British Empire.

Everyone sent them, just as we would make a phone call today and many were collected in albums. Braid was determined to produce images to suit all tastes. For the street scene collector he produced images like the early 1900s views of Winchburgh and another of Torphichen, posted in 1908.

Those interested in memorable, local events could purchase a Braid card recording such occasions as the unveiling of the statue of the 7th Earl of Hopetoun at Linlithgow Cross in 1911 or the visit to Linlithgow of King George V in 1914.

Annual West Lothian events were also captured by Braid’s camera: the Linlithgow Crying of the Marches, Whitburn Gala Day in 1912, the 1913 Newlands Day Procession in Bathgate and the Broxburn Cycle Parade.

Braid also cashed in on the demand for humour and sentiment with cards such as children playing leapfrog, children playing in the corn stooks around Bathgate and even his version of a ‘Scottish wash day’.

The ladies depicted in the wash tubs were probably members of Braid’s family for he unashamedly used them in many of his productions, including his wife, the village postmistress and his children Frances and Robert junior, as seen on his home-produced Christmas card for 1908.

He even got the long-suffering Mrs Braid to pose for a series of cards depicting amusing incidents. We’ve reproduced one from a set showing the antics and eventual arrest of a sweep – featuring, along with Mrs Braid, village postman and part time chimney cleaner, John Imrie.

The ‘Officer of the Law’ depicted in the card is probably a Mr Macleod who was, at various times, stationed in Queensferry.

Nothing was sacred if it could be caught on camera. In another, young Robert, dampens his parents’ ardour by pouring a jug of water on the cuddling couple!