"Stirling The Postcard Collection" by Jack Gillon presents the reader with an absolutely marvellous collection of old postcards depicting the most interesting parts of Stirling, largely in colour.
The publisher's description gives a good idea of what the book is seeking to achieve: "Having been granted city status during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, Stirling is Scotland’s smallest city, but has an enthralling wealth of architectural and historic heritage that would be the envy of much larger places in the country. Stirling’s heritage dates from the thirteenth century, when it was granted a royal charter and became a significant medieval settlement. Its strategic importance as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’ also made it the much-fought over ‘Cockpit of Scotland’ and it has been witness to many of the most significant battles in Scottish history. Today, Stirling is a bustling and charming historic city that retains much of its ancient character and architectural quality. Using old postcards, Stirling The Postcard Collection shows how the city has changed and evolved over the years. These postcards are an invaluable visual record of a place’s past and provide a fascinating insight into the world of our ancestors. The old postcards of Stirling celebrate the town’s civic achievements and distinctive character in the form of public buildings, principal streets, parks, railway stations and historic landmarks."
The book's chapters take a geographical look at the city. We start with Stirling Castle; then its environs; then the streets of the city; landmarks; the Valley Cemetery and Church of the Holy Rude; Stirling Bridge; the National Wallace Monument; and around Stirling.
The effort tneeded to source so many old postcards of Stirling must have been considerable. In may cases this has allowed different versions of the same view to be shown together, allowing a fine appreciation of what has stayed constant between the different renditions of the view and what has changed. There are also helpful captions that tell you what you are looking at and give a sense of the significance of the views.
One thing we missed was, in most cases, any sense of the dates for the images on the postcards, which makes it more difficult to judge how, as the description says, Stirling has changed and evolved over the years. Time and again we found ourselves looking for clues in the pictures to see which version of a view was earlier; and wishing that dates had been given to allow a better appreciation of the rate of change over time. But this is, as we said at the beginning, an absolutely marvellous collection of old postcards.