Bert Scott

Photographer for the Times of India at the beginning of the 20th century
Bert Scott Bombay Times Of India 1934
Bert Scott © Bombay Times of India, 1934

Bert Scott was Jason's grandpa and a source of inspiration for Jason. Here he tells his grandpa's story.

Jason spent eight years in India, discovering his heritage and responding to it with his People of India work. This connection keeps his grandpa's archive alive and relevant to Jason's continuing work today. This is how we would like people to think of their own family pictures.

My family came to India in 1798 when James Scott Savory joined the East India Company as a writer of the Records of State. He was the second assistant under the Collector of Krisnagearry (Krishnagiri).

Bert Scott was my grandfather and son of Algernon Edwin Scott and Desiree Marie Louise Josephene Lefevre, (she was the daughter of a French professor of English from Pondicherry). Algernon Scott (Bert’s father) worked for the ‘Salt and Abkeri’ before he joined the army and went to Mesopatamia region from 1916-1919. After Algernon Scott left Mesopotamia he then went to the North West Frontier province until 1921 when he was discharged as Lieutenant. In 1925 he joined Burmah Oil company until 1933 he worked at Caltex until the out break of War.

Grandpa was born in Bangalore in 1915. He was educated at the famous ‘Eton of the East’, Bishop Cottons school, before he joined the Times of India in 1936 as a press photographer, where he worked until the out break of World War II.

He initially joined up as a ‘gunner’ but soon took the job as Head Photographer for the Indian Army. During the second world war where he worked out of GHQ New Delhi (Now Parliament). His duties include photographing ceremonies and Japanese positions behind enemy lines in Burma.

He was in position on 14th August 1947 to photograph the hand over of power and watched as the Mountbattensleft Viceroy's House (Rashtrapati Bhavan). During the troubles of partition, because my family were Anglo Indian, they fled from Delhi to Bombay, and then took a ship to the new country of Pakistan where in November of that same year they left for a new life in the United Kingdom, settling in Coventry.

My grandfather married Doll Miles at the church of redemption in New Delhi and 1943 and my mother Anne Scott was born later that year in Amritsar, Punjab, whilst he was away on active duty during the war.

"Is Bertie here?"

During his research into his grandpa's life, Jason discovered a well-preserved collection of photographs of a young woman who was not his grandma. This was Marguerite, and Jason's journey to eventually find her is compelling, life affirming and heart breaking at the same time.

In 2017 Jason intends to return to Lovedale to respond to this story with a new body of work.