William Hourston was born in Evie in 1895. He moved to Stromness in the 1930s and originally ran a billiard saloon and barber shop, but his true interest was photography. The raising of the scuttled ships of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow gave him an opportunity to exploit his photographic skills and he produced many memorable images of the work over the years.
William had a good eye for the picturesque and took many photographs of Stromness and further afield, producing calendars and postcards of his work. He had trained as a joiner and was able to make a lot of his own darkroom equipment. He was also, for a time, an occasional Lighthouse Keeper on Suleskerry, an isolated rocky outpost about thirty miles west of Orkney. Of course, he took along his camera and recorded the huge numbers of seabirds and seals that frequented the area.
William Hourston served in both World Wars, receiving injuries during the 1st World War that affected him all his life. He continued to live in Stromness, taking photographs late into the 1950s, remaining in the town until his death in 1968.