Photographic memorabilia is bequeathed to Berwick

Renowned Berwick photographer, historian and author Jim Walker is donating a lifetime's collection of memorabilia to the town.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 07:27
Michael Herriot, chairman of the Berwick Freemen Trustees, accepts a document from Jim Walker detailing his bequest.

It is hoped the many cameras and other photographic equipment, some of it antique and very rare, along with hundreds of monochrome images, documents, books and other artefacts, could form the basis of a permanent exhibition in the proposed new cultural hub at Berwick Barracks.

Mr Walker, now 91, has decided to hand over the collection to the guardianship of the Guild of Berwick Freemen Trustees to ensure it remains in the town.

At a ceremony in the Guildhall, he presented a token selection of cameras and photographs to Guild chairman Michael Herriott.

Mr Herriott described Mr Walker as ‘an inspiration’ and that the Trustees were honoured to be entrusted with the safekeeping of his collection.

“It is a kind and generous gesture which will be enjoyed and appreciated not only by this generation but also as a lasting testament to his work,” he added.

Guild vice-chairman Captain James Evans stressed Mr Walker was keen the collection did not leave the town. They hoped to have it professionally catalogued.

Mr Walker, a retired bank manager and originally from Selkirk, has lifetime connections with Berwick, and showed Saturday’s audience a holiday snap taken at Spittal with his family when he was only two years old.

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He and his wife Connie have lived in Spittal for almost 40 years and his expeditions with his camera led to him charting the decline of the Tweed salmon fishing industry which formed the basis of the first of his eight published books, A Wake for the Salmon.

Many of the donated photographs feature the last days of what was a hugely important industry for Berwick, which at one time saw thousands of fish sent to the London and Edinburgh markets in the famous ‘smacks’ or sailing ships.

“Photography often brings history to life,” he said, explaining the link between his two passions. “I have enjoyed every bit of being in Berwick and I was concerned that the collection should not leave, but to make sure that future generations should see it and understand their past.”

Mr Walker has been collecting cameras since he was a young boy and over 50 will be handed over, including a rare Kodak from 1906 which could take panoramic views and a novelty one disguised as a pocket watch.

Along with the Tweed photos are images of little seen interiors, such as an old shoe factory, taken for another of his books, Secret Berwick.

Mr Walker was installed as a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society many years ago in recognition of the standard and scope of his work.