"Selkirk & Melrose Through Time" by Jack Gillon is a fascinating book that should be considered essential reading by anyone with an interest in these two lovely towns in the Scottish Borders. Amberley Publishing's "Through Time" series is one we've seen focus to good effect on many towns and cities across Scotland. The basic premise is fairly straightforward. The books allow their readers to compare and contrast modern photographs of the settlement or settlements being covered with historical photographs. Their authors seem to be given a fair degree of latitude in terms of the precise approach to be adopted. Sometimes an author has taken a set of historical photographs and set out to match them against modern photographs taken to show the same scene as closely as possible today. On other occasions the approach is more free-form, with pictures giving more a sense of how the settlement has developed without being tied so rigorously to a scene-by-scene approach.
Selkirk and Melrose are just six miles apart as the crow flies, and have presumably been paired to give a book with more interest and substance than would be achieved by looking at either alone. This works very well, and coverage extends beyond the towns themselves to places like Dryburgh Abbey and Sir Walter Scott's home at Abbotsford. The approach the author has adopted is slightly different to anything we've seen before in the series, and also works very well. The book looks first at Selkirk and then at Melrose, and in both cases we find that in some cases multiple historical views of a scene are set out for comparison with a modern image. There are, for example, no fewer than six historical photographs of Melrose Market Square, three from each of its ends, which can be compared with a modern photograph of each of the two views. Meanwhile, Selkirk Market Place is the subject of eleven historical photographs, taken at different times, which can again be compared with two modern photographs. The result is to give a real sense of depth to the coverage, and allow comparison not just between "now" and "then", but also between a series of different flavours of "then". This is something we really like. It's not overdone, and most scenes have just a single "then" to compare to "now", but where it is done, it works really well.