Tarbert: Historic Images

Tarbert, at the end of the 19th century was (and still is) a small fishing village, best known for its herring industry. It was a popular destination for holiday makers from Glasgow, and was captured in many images by the famous George Washington Wilson, one of the most notable photographers of the time, who not only worked as a portrait photographer for wealthy families of Britain, but also as photographer to Queen Victoria. In an age where photography was an emerging technology and cameras were not readily avaiable (and certainly not affordable) for ordinary people, the images captured in throughout Britain, and around the world by GW Wilson are an invalubale record of the areas and the people he visited. 37,0o0 images from his collection of plate glass negatives are held in the University of Aberdeen Photographic Archive and can be viewed and purchased (copies) online.

In GW Washington’s footsteps, James Valentine’s company, Valentines of Dundee were another prolific publisher of topographical views of Scottish towns and villages. The images I have put here are from post cards purchased over many years. Most of them are not in great condition, but perhaps similar images could be purchased from the archival sites. The Stonefeild Castle Hotel in Tarbert has some amazing photos adorning the walls of the old part of the hotel.

Many of these images come from postcards, but my most precious ones came from a cousin in Sydney, Australia. John Crawford’s father, Duncan Crawford, left Tarbert in 1908. Prior to that he had lived with his widowed grandmother, Margaret McDonald, in her little croft in Tarbert. As she farewelled him (in tears) at the pier, she gave him a little booklet of photos, taken by GW Wilson, and one of them, I’m certain is of her husband, Donald McDonald of Gigha, my g-g-g grandfather, sitting at the pier in Tarbert.

I found it was quite a task to locate the images that would help me visualize  the life and times of Margaret Galbraith and Donald McDonald, who’s great emigration adventure from Gigha took them only as far as Tarbert.  Most of the pictures from the north show their croft at Baluachradch, up on the hill behind the school. Others show the town, images of fishing life or places my Granny, Agnes used to talk about. I am happy to share them, I am presuming since they are all 19th and early 20th century images, widely available on postcards, they are Public Domain and don’t infringe copyright.



The Three Churches of Tarbert


West Loch Tarbert


West Loch Tarbert


War Memorial Tarbert (WWI 1914-1918)


Peir Road Tarbert


Pier Rd Tarbert ~ 1930's




Tarbert Castle


The Castle, Tarbert


Tarbert Castle


Postcard, Tarbert Castle



Tarbert, Good View of Uncle Duncan McDonald's Croft


Tarbert from War Memorial, the Best View of Baluachradch



Tarbert from the North



Granny McDonald's Croft. GW Wilson early 1890's



Tarbert from the White Shore


Tarbert, White Shore


Quiet Corner


Tarbert Harbour


Tarbert Fishermen






Tarbert Harbour


Herring Harvest, Tarbert



Herring Women, Tarbert - These women came from out of town in the herring season



Tarbert from the East


Whitehouse from Granny McDonald's Book


Stonefeild House, Tarbert from Granny McDonald's Book


Tarbert from the rear of Aunty Annie's (Annie McAlpine) home


Harbour St Tarbert from Granny's Book


Donald McDonald? Quay Tarbert, from Granny McDonald's Book




Harbour St Tarbert showing Crofts of Baluachradch


Tarbert Harbour


Pier Rd


The Old Pier


Tarbert from SW, The Back Street


Evening on the Harbour


Tarbert from the Battery





Tarbert Quay (~ 1930s)


Fishing Boats Tarbert


Tarbert Fishing Boats, Harbour St


Stonefeild Castle Hotel


Tarbert, Postcard


Handcoloured Tarbert


Tarbert Loch Fyne Handcoloured


Columba at the Pier


Pier Road Handcoloured


Pier Road


Great View of Baluachradch


Loch Fyne Fishing Boats


Pre 1900 hand coloured


Stonefeild House Handcoloured










West Loch Tarbert




West Loch Tarbert


Tarbert Village


Tarbert Castle & Quay


Tarbert Castle, Quay and Isthmus