Orkney Image Library

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Orkney Archives

Orkneycommunities.co.uk is extremely grateful for the use of pictures from the Tom Kent and Phoenix Photography collections, with particular thanks to David Mackie and Alison Fraser.

The Orkney Archive includes a wide range of records such as those of the local authority and its preceding bodies; the sheriff and justice of the peace courts; customs and excise; presbytery and kirk session records. The gifts and deposits section includes family and estate papers, those of local businesses and organisations, and the papers of prominent Orcadians like Robert Rendall, Ernest Marwick and Stanley Cursiter. Census schedules, Parish registers and local newspapers are all available on microfilm.

The Sound Archive comprises of an extensive collection of oral history recordings.

The Photographic Archive was founded in 1976 with a priceless gift of over 6000 glass plate negatives donated by Mrs Barbara Walls. The photographs were the work of Tom Kent, who worked as a photographer in Orkney from 1898 until his death in 1936.

The Photographic Archive is of immeasurable social and historical importance, both locally and nationally, since it records changes that were occurring throughout the country as well as in Orkney. The images depict changes taking place in the working and social lifes of Orkney's people; the switch from horse drawn transport to motor driven vehicles; the introdustion of the first air service to the islands; the changes in farming methods; the effects of two World Wars and the huge influx of military personnel as well as industries that have largely disappeared and many more subjects.

The Photographic Archive has expanded regularly since that time with the acquisition of works by many other local photographers and now holds in excess of 50,000 images relating to Orkney and it's people, from the nineteenth century up to recent times.

The Photographic Archive can supply prints from the collection, up to 50.8 x 40.64 cm (20 x 16 inches). The prices for these can be found on their website.

St Magnus Relics The relics of St Magnus (or are they?) photographed in 1913 by Tom Kent.
Lobster fishermen at Skibigeo, Birsay This is from the Tom Kent collection, and the date is only an estimate.
Gow's Folly, 1929 From the Tom Kent Collection, this picture shows the folly reputedly built from the ballast stones f...
First Kirkwall power station Anyone touching 40 or older may well remember the unlovely structure of Orkney's first power station...
Service at Covenanters' Memorial Tom Kent Collection picture from 26th August 1923, showing a memorial service at the Covenanters' Me...
Doorway of St Olaf's Church A Tom Kent picture of the doorway of St. Olaf's Curch in St. Olaf's Wynd. The cross pattern in th...
Punch and Judy show on Broad Street Another Tom Kent picture. The date is an estimate.
Imperial Hotel, Albert Street, Kirkwall This is quite interesting. I was wondering where it was when I chanced across it, and only worked it...
Detail from Imperial Hotel picture This shows detail from two areas of picture #152, the Imperial Hotel in Albert Street.
Orkney Agricultural Society Outside St Ola Hotel Date is an estimate. Any names?

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