Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Sunday, 18 April 2010

15 Apr 2010 - "Dating Old Photographs" & AGM

The AGM was followed by a presentation on "Dating Old Photographs" by Mr Ron Ferguson of Dalgarven Mill, Kilwinning. Not only is he the curator of what is considered to be "a museum of rural life that knocks all others into a cocked hat", but he is also a collector extraordinaire of Ayrshire dress and textiles from the mid 18th century. The Mill collection now consists of over two thousand articles and it was this wealth of knowledge of fashion and fabric that Mr Ferguson could call upon to date old photographs.

Having reminded us that Ayrshire was around three years behind London fashions, he showed us, by means of large photographs, changes in fashions from the early 1850s to the 1920s. Voluminous skirts in the 1860s, under which four children could shelter, changed to more restrained crinolines ten years later. By 1880/1890 skirts sported bustles, pinafore decoration and fitted bodices with narrow sleeves. Then came the blouse and calf length skirts of the 1900s to the start of the First World War. It was particularly interesting to see from the 1860s period the detail of "elegance" with its white Ayrshire lace sleeves or cuffs. Gentlemen were not forgotten; top hats gave way to bowlers and pale coloured trousers were considered very trendy by the end of the century.

Throughout the presentation Mr Ferguson regaled us with stories of how he had acquired various pieces of dress and their links with Ayrshire. Without a doubt we could all have listened to him for much longer, so contagious was his own enthusiasm and love of old Ayrshire life. He certainly inspired us to make another Society visit to Dalgarven Miill to see a different age of fashion from the one displayed on our last visit several years ago.

Shiela Dinwoodie

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