Fire burn and cauldron bubble

Pirie children, Margaret, Nell and Sandy, thought to be Dr George Alexander Pirie, c1885 sitting at a fire and cauldron.

This Halloweenesque family snap from c1885 shows Margaret and Nell tending a cauldron as Sandy blows on the embers to keep the fire going. It’s from a Pirie family photograph album held in the Catherine Kinnear Collection. Some of the photographs are labelled and there is a handwritten list of wedding guests to accompany a photograph of Robert Pirie’s and Mary Henderson’s wedding dated 1894.

Interestingly, this led us to look a bit closer at Uncle Sandy as he is captioned in this particular photograph. The list denotes that Margaret, Helen and George Alexander Pirie are siblings. There is an older George in the family and thus it is reasonable to suggest that the Uncle Sandy seen in this photograph is in fact known in the family by the shortened version of his middle name. The Uncle Sandy seen here having fun with his sisters is likely to be none other than Dr George Alexander Pirie. His dates of birth and death on the list also correspond with what we already know about Dr Pirie.

Dr Pirie was instrumental in the development of X-ray use in medicine. He set up an electrical department within Dundee Royal Infirmary in 1896 and continued to work there until his retirement in 1925. As a consequence of his pioneering work with radiation, Dr Pirie lost his eyesight and both hands had to be amputated. The Tayside Medical History Museum holds examples of Dr Piries’s X-ray equipment.

The Pirie family album can be viewed in the Archive searchroom. Opening hours are available on the website.

Ref no: MS 103/5/1 (8)

Images from the collections featuring WW1 material