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Map showing locations of properties damaged by air raids in World War 2 Map showing locations of properties damaged by air raids in World War 2

Thomas Annan was the preeminent photographer based in Glasgow. He is best known for his photographic record of the slums of Glasgow prior to their demolition. The resulting images were published as 'The Old Closes and Streets' and it is widely recognised as a classic of nineteenth-century documentary photography. Annan was also an accomplished photographer of paintings, portraits, and landscapes and employed a range of, sometimes pioneering, photographic techniques throughout his career. 

 


About Thomas Annan

 

Portrait of Thomas Annan

 

Thomas Annan (1829 -1887) was the son of a Fife farmer and flax spinner and lived for most of his life in Glasgow. He set up business with George Berwick at 40 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, listing in the 1855 - 56 Glasgow post office directory as calotypists, practitioners of this early form of photography.

40 Woodlands Road, photographed in 1960.

40 Woodlands Road, photographed in 1960. This was the first studio of photographer Thomas Annan, who produced calotypes on the premises, before he set up in business on his own account at 116 Sauchiehall Street.

 

After training and working as a copperplate engraver, he set up a photographic studio in Sauchiehall Street in 1857. He concentrated initially on architectural photography but then turned his attention to portraits. In 1866 Annan was commissioned by Glasgow City Improvement Trust to photograph slum areas in the old part of the city before urban renewal took place. This resulted in the landmark series of photographs, Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, which was published between 1868 and 1877.

James Craig Annan and John Annan

His second son, James Craig Annan (1864 – 1946), joined the business at a young age and began assisting his father in the studio. In 1883, they obtained a license for the photogravure process from its Austrian inventor Karl Klic and became Britain's foremost gravure printing establishments. On his father’s death, he took over the business alongside his brother, John Annan (1862 – 1947), the former dealing with portrait photography, and the latter specialising in the architectural photography business.

We have around 240 individual volumes of 65 titles containing photographs produced by the Annan family, as well as around 500 loose prints, mainly from disbound or damaged volumes.


Views of the Line of Loch Katrine Water Works

In the Views of the Line of Loch Katrine Water Works, 1859, Annan's photographs document the construction of a 35 mile aqueduct to supply the city of Glasgow with fresh water from Loch Katrine in the Trossachs. The later Photographic Views of Loch Katrine show the completed work in 1877.

View a selection of images from this part of the collection in the gallery here.


Painted Windows of Glasgow Cathedral

In 1867, Annan published a volume of 43 photographs entitled Painted Windows of Glasgow Cathedral. This work is not only an important example of Annan’s use of Joseph Swan’s permanent carbon process photographs but also as a record of the windows, which were removed in the 20th century.

View a selection of images from this part of the collection in the gallery here.


Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow

The first edition of Old Closes and Streets contained 31 albumen prints and was published in a very limited edition in 1871. The albumen prints were prone to fading so, in 1878, Annan reprinted the photographs using the carbon process (having acquired the rights to this process in 1866) which were cheaper to produce and more resilient. A further edition was published in 1900 by Thomas Annan's son, James Craig. This later volume contained 50 photogravure plates.

View a selection of images from this part of the collection in the gallery here.


Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry

Photograph of Belvidere House, Glasgow taken from The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Belvidere House, Glasgow (Thomas Annan, 1870).

Annan also photographed the large houses and mansions surrounding Glasgow in The Old Country Houses of the old Glasgow gentry (1870) which were disappearing or being repurposed as the city expansion continued.

View a selection of images from this part of the collection in the gallery here.


Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

He undertook several other works of important buildings in the city including Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow. This records views of the buildings and professors of the University of Glasgow before its relocation to Gilmorehill.

View a selection of images from this part of the collection in the gallery here.


Finding aids

Annan Collection Bound Volumes listing (PDF, 246kb)

Annan Collection Loose Prints listing (PDF, 292kb)


Further reading

If you wish to read more about Thomas Annan, browse the library catalogue.


Image Galleries

 

cross-section from gallery

A selection of images from this collection can be viewed in the links below.

Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow

 

Old Closes and Streets by Thomas Annan, published 1868-71

 


More about this Collection

For a more detailed account of this collection, please click here.


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