Family studio’s 60 years

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On Coronation Day, Neil Werninck celebrated 60 years of his family photography studio occupying the same site in Murray Street.

Neil’s father, Bob, was a professional photographer who worked on ships in the 1930s.

He specialised in cruises to South America, places like Argentina and Brazil.

And it was on one of these cruises that the ship’s hairdresser, Edna, became his sweetheart, and the two married.

When the war came the cruises stopped, because Bob had suffered a serious arm injury as a boy he was not accepted into the fighting forces.

He became a Pearl Insurance agent in Montrose, and reached the level of district manager. However, he hankered after a return to photography, and when he became aware that the Murray Street studio was for sale, he jumped at the chance.

The studio has had that function since 1884, and his predecessors were John Carr, Miss Dunn (Cecil Studios), Charles Partoon, Ray Burns and Walter Tooke.

Neil did not start out in life with the ambition to become a photographer, and joined the Royal Air Force as an engineer.

He was at RAF Valley, in Kenya, in Aden during the troubles, and finally at RAF Leuchars where he was a member of 23 Squadron.

He joined the family business and fell into one of his specialities by chance.

Neil was asked to take some aerial pictures, and said that he had never done this. The reply was: “You’re a photographer and you were in the Air Force! That’s good enough for me!”

One of his aerial exploits left him with much to think about, when he was asked to take pictures directly above an oil company’s premises.

This would normally have required a specialist plane, but his pilot, Ted Girdler, was ex-Red Arrows and solved the question by turning the plane on its side so Neil could aim straight down. This was fine until Neil thought it was getting a bit draughty and realised that his door had burst open! He was well strapped in, but it gave him much to ponder. Naturally the photo-shoot continued.

One of the ways that Neil is celebrating the special anniversary is by running a competition through Montrose Rotary, for schoolchildren.

He has also set up a Facebook page with archive pictures from over the decades, most identifiable, but some under the heading ‘Mystery!’