Elgin, Scotland: Old Photos & Film

Elgin Moray Scotland local history old photos vintage film

Elgin is an ancient settlement, first noted in the Cartulary of Moray back in 1190 AD. Thirty years later it was a Royal Burgh with a new cathedral under construction. Sadly the cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1270, but the town thrived over the centuries.

The 1800s saw the arrival of the railway and a burst of beautiful new buildings, many of which exist today. Unfortunately this came at the cost of the old medieval town, which was pulled apart to free up the land.

Old Photos Through Time

“Old Photographs Elgin Moray Scotland”

A lovely collection of old black and white photos showing the town over a number of decades in the past century.

Early 20th Century Events


The opening of Cooper Park in August 1903 was accompanied by great fanfare, and the crowds turned out in force! I’d be surprised if anyone could hear the speeches, given the number of black umbrellas opened against the rain, and the astonishing number of people present.

“Prime Minister Receives the Freedom of Elgin”

In 1929, Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald received freedom of his home town. The ceremony took place at the Town Hall, originally built in 1884 but later destroyed by fire in 1939. 

The British Movietone footage is high quality and accompanied by sound.

In attendance was the American Ambassador General Charles Gates Dawes (August 27, 1865 – April 23, 1951), 30th vice president of the United States (for the Republican party) from 1925 to 1929. 

At the event General Dawes paid tribute to the Prime Minister, and apparently spoke “emphatically on the subject of naval disarmament”. Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1930s happened so shockingly fast that the 1939 outbreak of World War II was impossible to foresee when these dignitaries assembled in the Town Hall ten years earlier.

July 1929 also saw Moray Golf Club reverse its ban on Ramsay MacDonald’s membership. 

Born in Lossiemouth (the Elgin port which became an important fishing town), Ramsey and his sons were keen golfers at the club. But in August 1915, a year into the Great War (World War I), members moved to oust him given his outspoken anti-war stance as a Labour MP. The dispute rumbled on for a few years. So by the time he became Prime Minister and received an invitation to return to the club in 1929, it was too late for Ramsey to put past grievances behind him.

Local Townsfolk Having Fun In The Old Days


Silent, black and white footage of a bright, sunny day in 1933. Many different activities filmed.


Lots of adults and children take an interest in the camera on this day in 1935. We also see lots of buildings as the parade goes through town.


This silent, black and white footage from 1950, includes the children’s fancy dress competition, parade, and crowning of the Gala Queen. Large numbers of children, and later adults, appear.


Cooper Park hosted the 1955 Restoration Fete. Some of the dignitaries included Lord Cawdor (chairman), Brigadier H.W. Houldsworth (Lord Lieutenant of Murray), and Pluscarden’s Abbot, Wilfred Upson.

Amusement stalls, pony rides and a tea tent are all enjoyed by the crowds of visitors.

The End of The Line

“Scottish Branch lines-Coast and Glen lines -last week of service 1968”

In 1968, the train service between Aberdeen and Elgin via Buckie, and from Elgin to Keith Junction via Craigellachie, was ended. This silent, colour, 8mm archive film shows scenes from the final week of service for these Scottish branch lines.

We see station names shown clearly along the route.

The 1980s


1980 saw the centenary of the ‘Northern Scot’ newspaper, which was published by the Moray and Nairn Newspaper Company Ltd. Therefore, this film was made to commemorate the event.

It captures both the interior and exterior of their premises. Inside, we see the various departments at work, including the printers.

There’s also a look at past editions of the newspaper, some dating back to 1880.

It captured life at a small local newspaper just before the industry went through dramatic technological and financial change.


In 1983, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, came to the town for an official visit at a textile factory. It may have been Johnstons of Elgin.

Peaceful protestors wait quietly outside, with some interviewed by the press.

What’s perhaps most striking from the footage inside the factory is the scrum of security and officials that crowd round her, stopping employees getting anywhere near her unless they are selected for attention.

The footage is on ‘video 6’ of these clips.

Views Of The 21st Century Town

Elgin, Scotland by MTB

In the summer of 2015, the creator of YouTube channel Onelife stu recorded his mountain bike ride round the town.

Almost nine minutes of footage, accompanied by cheerful music.

Many local people and places appear along the route.

“Elgin Moray Scotland”

Drone footage above the town taken in 2019, showing spectacular landscapes bathed in sunshine. Fabulous editing too so you get to see a lot in a short time.

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