Story of a Photograph: The Police Pipe Band

There are three main ways that the Archive collects materials. As we are the Archive for the City Council (and its predecessors) we get records by internal transfer. This means that other departments within the council send us records that are no longer needed for their current purpose but might of interest historically. Examples of this type of record include minutes of the council and committees, and records from schools.

We are also a collecting archive, which means that we take collections from outside of the council. These are called deposits or gifts. In most cases people get in touch with us saying that they have records that they no longer want. This could be because they are moving house, clearing out a relatives belongings or a business has shut down. If the records relate to Dundee in some way, we will probably take them. If the owner no longer wants them, they might gift them outright to the archives. Some businesses, clubs, charities and other organisations that are still going deposit records with us. These records remain the property of the depositor but we hold them on the agreement that members of the public are allowed to view them.

The full framed photograph with names at the bottom.

The third, but rare, means of acquiring records is through purchase. Old documents, books and photographs have a value. There are dealers and auction houses who make money from selling some items. Occasionally we will spend money on unique or significant items for the archives. In most cases we are helped in this by the Friends of Dundee City Archives (FDCA). Part of their remit is to help the archives acquire materials, particularly by purchase. In 2019 the FDCA helped us buy a photograph montage of Dundee postal workers from 1905, various postcards, a series of glass slides showing the Dundee Cycling Club from the 1930s and the above picture of the Dundee Police Pipe Band from 1913.

This photograph is quite large and nicely framed (although that does make it difficult to phtograph – so apologies for the quality of images in this article!). Luckily for us, the names of the men in the band are printed underneath the picture. They are:

Ppr A Simpson
W Fenwick
J Coventry
Pipe Major T Mitchell
W McLeish
D Hill
J Lumgair
A Hynd
A Ness
Cpl J Moonie
P Inches
J Wann
T Ricketts
G Taylor
C McPherson
W Wilson

So what do we know about these men? Naturally you would turn to police records in the first instance. At this time the Police was controlled by the Dundee Council. However we no longer hold detailed operational records, such as personnel files. These were transferred over to Tayside Police, and they are now in the hands of Police Scotland.

James Wann, second from the left at the front.

However a personnel file is not the only source we can use to find out about someone. As with many enquiries, our first port of call is the Dundee directories. Not all of the men are listed (you did have to pay to be in the directory so this is to be expected). But we do learn that Drummer John Lumgair is a detective and lives at 32 Benvie Road. William Fenwick is a police constable and lives at 18 Caldrum Street. Peter Inches is a sergeant at the Northern Police Offices and lives at Carnegie Street.

One thing I was curious about was the date. This photograph was taken in 1913 – just one year before the outbreak of the First World War. Do we know what the fate of these men was? Unfortunately one of the names above does appear on the police war memorial on Bell Street. This is James Todd Wann. James served in the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards. He was killed on 25th March 1918, and left a wife, Berth, and daughter, Alice, who was just three years old. You can find out more about James on the Great War Dundee website.




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