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Robert Burns

Magic Lantern Slide with Photograph of John Thomson, Proprietor of the Hole I' the Wa' Inn, Dumfries

Late 19th Century
"John Thomson Esq. proprietor Hole I' the Wa' Burns Collection", a black and white photographic image of an early collector of Burns memorabilia.


John Thomson, the proprietor of the Hole I' the Wa' Inn in the latter part of the 19th Century, was an avid collector of Burns material. The public bar contained a museum of pictures, manuscripts and relics associated with the poet. In 1904 he purchased the burgess ticket presented to Robert Burns by the town of Dumfries at an auction at Sotheby's for £55. (The burgess ticket gave Burns the freedom of the town, although it gave him certain rights and privileges, it was essentially an honour.)


Early advertisements for the inn highlight the Burns collection which could be viewed there. This would doubtless be an attraction for those visiting Burns' haunts in and around Dumfries, although there is no evidence that the poet frequented the inn during his time in the town.


Situated between the High Street and Queensberry Street, the Hole I' the Wa' Inn was originally part of a back tenement of houses, known as the Mid Row. It is still a public house but the Burns Collection assembled by John Thomson can now be seen at Robert Burns House and the Robert Burns Centre in the town.

width: 82 mm, length: 82 mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Lantern Slide, PEOPLE, Robert Burns / 15
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
1880 - 1910
Dumfries & Galloway Council