William Hugh Wood was born in 1830 at Curcabreck in Rendall but spent most of his life living and working in Finstown. He was employed as Postmaster in the village, a position he took over from his father-in-law, and was one of the first photographers to be working in Orkney, certainly producing photographs by the 1870s. Orkney Archive holds approximately 1000 of Wood’s original glass plates, the majority of those being portraits. Sadly, due to the passage of time, the names of his subjects will probably never be known but the photographs have captured a moment in their lives. Some are dressed in their best clothes and others are in their working clothes or uniforms.
William H. Wood also photographed some of the buildings on Mainland, from lowly cottages to grander homes, and some of these images have survived to offer us a glimpse of a bygone time, a time before motor transport, central heating and all the other trappings of life that we take for granted nowadays. His photographic equipment would have been primitive compared to modern day standards but his surviving images demonstrate a high degree of skill and an obvious ability on the part of the photographer. W.H. Wood died, aged 74, on the 30th July 1903, leaving Orkney with a precious glimpse into a long forgotten way of life.