Peebles Through Time by Liz Hanson is a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable "then and now" journey through Peeblesshire, a historical county also sometimes known as the County of Peebles or Tweeddale. Amberley Publishing has an expanding range of "Through Time" titles, and the basic formula is recognisable across the series. Peebles Through Time has a total of 180 photographs, 90 dating back to various points in the earlier history of photography, and 90 modern counterparts: and it is an especially fine example of just how effective this approach can be.
There are a number of reasons for this. One is connected with the nature of the area covered, which is varied and includes towns such as Peebles and Innerleithen along with smaller villages and beautiful countryside. The second is down to the selection of historical photographs, which are of high quality and chosen for their relevance: most are sepia, but a number were originally coloured for use as postcards. And the third main reason for the success of this book is the high quality of the modern photography. Author Liz Hanson has lived in the Borders for 35 years, and for the last 20 of them has been running her own photographic business. As a result the modern photographs add a great deal of value to the book. In many places they have obviously been taken to recreate a particular view shown in a historical photograph, but elsewhere the author has taken a flexible approach, giving a varied and interesting result.
The book is organised along the lines of a journey through Peeblesshire. We start in Peebles itself. Especially striking is the old photograph of Scott Brothers' shop in the High Street, at a time when, the informative caption tells us, shops in the town included 6 grocers, 6 grocers and spirit dealers, and 1 greengrocers. (Did we mention that the captions strike just the right balance of information and accessibility?) We then move out into the surrounding area before arriving in Innerleithen en route to Walkerburn, West Linton and beyond.