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Eric G. Meadows

Eric G. Meadows and his cameras were regular visitors to the Isle of Skye during the 1950s and 1960s, a time of great social change on the island.

Eric was born in the English town of Luton on 30th January 1924. His family often took their holidays in Devon, Cornwall and Wales where he took his earliest photographs of landscapes and historic houses. He began his working life at Rothamsted Agricultural Research Station before joining the army from 1944 until 1947. Upon leaving the army he joined the Luton Water Company and during the course of time had the opportunity to travel with his cameras as far afield as Iceland, Greenland, Norway and of course Skye.

An enthusiastic gardener and amateur photographer, he created a darkroom in the back of his garage. Eric eventually gave up paid employment to become a full time photographer. Throughout his life he enjoyed the great outdoors and was a member of the John Muir Trust, National Trust and actively involved in the Bedfordshire National History Society and Field Club.

Eric G. Meadows passed away aged 85 on the 26th February 2009.

The Photographer

Click to enlarge
Eric G. Meadows published his one and only book of Skye photography in 1951. The quality of the paper, like many post-war books of the period, is poor. The cover illustration is of Loch Scavaig from Elgol.
Eric G. Meadows published his one and only book of Skye photography in 1951. The quality of the paper, like many post-war books of the period, is poor. The cover illustration is of Loch Scavaig from Elgol.

During his lifetime Eric amassed an archive of over 25,000 negatives of buildings and landscapes. His photographs appeared regularly in the magazine "Country Life" and he had over 20 covers to his name. He was also a regular contributor to Pevsner's "Buildings of England". In addition to illustrating calendars, books and magazine articles written by others he also published his popular books of scenic views, mostly in and around his home town. His books included "Pictorial Guide to Hertfordshire" (1977), "Bedfordshire Then and Now" (1996), "Happened a Garden Town" (2000) and "Berkhamstead: A Gateway to the Chilterns" (2001).

The book likely to be of greatest interest to readers is also one of his first, "The Skye Scene" first published in 1951. This 96 page book contains a commentary on the must-see places on Skye plus some 70 photographs of the magnificent Skye landscape.

In the introduction to the book Eric describes how he used his Rolleiflex and ¼-plate Sanderson cameras with a combination of normal, wide-angle and long-focus (telephoto) lens. He would typically use orthochromatic (sensitive only to blue and green light) or panchromatic film with a light yellow filter.

The photographs illustrating "The Skye Scene" are primarily of landscapes and devoid of people. However Eric was visiting Skye during a period of immense social change and some of his photographs depict the harshness and physical toil of crofting life. This was at a time when hard manual labour was starting to give way to mechanisation and houses "lacked ornamental gardens" - and most still do - and a mains electricity supply.

The University of Edinbugh School of Scottish Studies holds a sizable collection of Eric's Scottish prints in their archive that may be viewed by prior arrangement.

Eric also offered copies of some of his photographs of Strath to the Elgol and Torrin Historical Society. The examples below are reproduced with the kind permission of the Society and offer a great insight to Skye life during the 1950s and 1960s and the creativity of Eric G. Meadows.

Peat Cutting. Click to enlarge.
Peat Cutting

Johnathan Grant cutting peat at Meabost near Elgol on 26th April 1957.
Making Hay. Click to enlarge.
Making Hay

Angus and Katie Morrison making winter stacks at N°. 13 Elgol. The top of the completed stack will have a piece of canvas placed on it's crown to prevent the rain soaking in to it.
Corn Stooks. Click to enlarge.
Corn Stooks

Lachie Padraig and his sister Nellie making corn stooks at N°. 12 Elgol. Notice the sheaf bound around the top of each completed stook to protect it from the wind and the rain.
Milking. Click to enlarge.

John MacArthur of "Fernlea" Elgol milking his cow, 17th June 1957.
Elgol. Click to enlarge.

Kate "Bheag" MacIntosh N°. 1 Elgol, 5th September 1960.
Cow Walking. Click to enlarge.
Cow Walking

Chrissie MacIntosh of the "Old Post Office", Elgol taking a cow for a walk on 13th June 1953.
Elgol from the Shore. Click to enlarge.
Elgol from the Shore

Another magnificent photograph by Eric G. Meadows taken on 29th May 1950.
Rhum from Ben Meabost. Click to enlarge.
Rhum from Ben Meabost

Taken on the 28th May 1948
Elgol. Click to enlarge.

Lachie Mackinnon and wheelbarrow, Elgol. The present-day wooden telephone exchange stands to the left of the bend. Dated September 1947.
Dun Grugaig, Glasnakille. Click to enlarge.
Dun Grugaig, Glasnakille

Dated 1950.
Torrin. Click to enlarge.

Roddy Anderson his sister Mary and Lily the horse, 15th June 1957.
N°. 9 Torrin. Click to enlarge.
N°. 9 Torrin

Mary Mackinnon and her son Neil who has recently returned home from the RAF, 17th September 1947.
Scything. Click to enlarge.

John MacInnes of N°. 14 Torrin scything.
Torrin. Click to enlarge.

Catriona Mackenzie of N°. 2 Torrin, 5th September 1960.
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