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In 1950, former City Councillor Stanley Cavaye was invited to a flat in St James Square to view some ‘old pictures’. He discovered an assortment of boxes which contained some 450 glass plate negatives by the little-known Edinburgh photographer, Thomas Begbie. Mostly taken between 1857 and 1860, they present a unique snapshot of life in mid-Victorian Edinburgh, from the splendour of the New Town to the squalor of the Old. In 1992 Mr Cavaye gifted this remarkable collection to the City of Edinburgh. David Patterson is Curatorial and Conservation Manager for Edinburgh Museums & Galleries.

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Thomas Begbie’s Edinburgh: A mid-Victorian portrait