Hunt for mystery Edinburgh railway snapper

One of the photos in the collection found by Archie Foley
One of the photos in the collection found by Archie Foley
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HE is the mysterious railway driver whose legacy of photographs opened a window on lost Edinburgh.

A painstaking study of the images has revealed where he lived, his job, even what kind of car he drove – everything but his name.

And now after a year-long quest, the man who discovered the rare collection feels he may finally be on the brink of identifying him.

Archie Foley, 80, of Joppa, found the negatives by chance in a biscuit tin at a collectors’ fair and has been trying to find out more about the photographer ever since.

He said: “When I bought them, the first thing that attracted me was the railway photographs but as I looked at the collection I got caught up in the story.

“He is very family-oriented. He was working-class but his job as an engine driver must have given him a certain social status.

“He is pictured with his family going on trips to the zoo and on picnics. You almost feel you know the person and you want to find out more.

“I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed but I’m determined to bring this to a conclusion and him the credit he deserves for preserving such a wonderful record, not only of work on the railways at a time of great change but scenes of Edinburgh, family life and leisure.”

Scrutinising the pictures, Mr Foley confirmed the photographer was an engine driver working from the Dalry Road depot.

The man lived on Gardner’s Crescent off Morrison Street and had a granddaughter called Anne and daughter called Elspeth, both of whom are named and pictured in the collection.

The pictures, dating from the 1950s and 1960s, show his home and two of the cars he owned during this time – a Morris Minor and an Austin A30.

A selection of the photographs now appear in a book – From Steam to Diesel, Through the Lens of a Scottish Railway Man – which was launched on Saturday as part of the Portobello Book Festival at Portobello High School.

The man who sold the collection didn’t know anything about them and was trying to sell the ornamental tin.

But retired history teacher Mr Foley was intrigued enough to immediately snap them up and develop the unseen pictures.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com