A won­der­ful win­dow into Nor­folk's past

Take a trip back in time this win­ter to visit our fas­ci­nat­ing photo ex­hi­bi­tion. Angi Kennedy finds out about one of the part­ners in the project, Pic­ture Nor­folk.

Let's Talk - - SUFFOLK WI -

If ever you have dreamed of trav­el­ling back through the decades, of see­ing the land­scape and build­ings around you in days gone by, or meet­ing the peo­ple who lived in your com­mu­nity gen­er­a­tions be­fore you, then wel­come to a win­dow on the won­der­ful world of Nor­folk’s past.

All you need a com­puter . . . and plenty of time to lose your­self in the ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs that is the Pic­ture Nor­folk on­line col­lec­tion. Take a look and head off on a vis­ual trip into the county’s his­tory of the past 170 years.

Pic­tures, dat­ing from the early days of pho­tog­ra­phy dur­ing the 1840s through to the present day, and rang­ing from am­a­teur and in­for­mal fam­ily pho­tos to com­mer­cial im­ages, stu­dio por­traits, paint­ings and draw­ings are gath­ered in an eas­ily search­able col­lec­tion which has more than 25,000 im­ages on­line.

It is run by Nor­folk Library and In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice and in­cludes im­ages from lo­cal stud­ies li­braries, Nor­folk Mu­se­ums Ser­vice, Nor­folk Record Of­fice and many pri­vate col­lec­tions, as well as a wide se­lec­tion of pho­tos do­nated by the pub­lic in re­sponse to an ap­peal to re­place the lost ar­chives that were de­stroyed in the dev­as­tat­ing Nor­wich library fire of 1994.

Pic­ture Nor­folk is a grow­ing and evolv­ing re­source of digi­tised pho­tos which the pub­lic can use for gen­eral brows­ing, to learn about their area, for fam­ily and lo­cal his­tory stud­ies as well as re­search for films, TV pro­grammes, aca­demic writ­ings and books rang­ing from self-pub­lished pieces to cof­fee ta­ble pub­li­ca­tions.

Pic­ture Nor­folk is also one of the part­ners in the Pic­tur­ing The Past ex­hi­bi­tion cur­rently on dis­play at The Mu­seum of Nor­wich at The Bridewell, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Let’s Talk. The ex­hi­bi­tion, which looks at the im­por­tance of old pho­tos and what we can learn from them, con­tin­ues un­til Fe­bru­ary 16, 2019, and in­cludes a de­light­ful and in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion of pho­tos do­nated to Pic­ture Nor­folk by Peggy Mitchell of Sher­ing­ham.

Clare Everitt is the Pic­ture

Nor­folk ad­min­is­tra­tor and ex­plains: “The Mitchell Col­lec­tion is a won­der­ful set of pho­to­graphs that take us through the range of pho­to­graphic meth­ods, with very lo­cal con­nec­tions.

“Pic­ture Nor­folk is not about fam­ily ar­chives as such - the pho­to­graphs we ac­cept for the col­lec­tion have to add to what we know about Nor­folk, with in­for­ma­tion about the peo­ple, places and life in the county, but I never de­cide un­til I’ve taken a look at what we are be­ing of­fered.

“We hold the main county ar­chive of pho­tos from the Nor­folk Pho­to­graphic Sur­vey which re­ally be­gan in 1913,” says Clare. She ex­plains that pho­to­graphic sur­veys were hap­pen­ing around the coun­try be­tween the end of the 1800s and the 1920s, doc­u­ment­ing the chang­ing so­ci­ety, van­ish­ing ru­ral crafts, in­dus­tries and ways of life.

“We also hold some re­ally im­por­tant pri­vate col­lec­tions which have been shared with us,” con­tin­ues Clare, “such as the Board­man loaned ar­chive, Finch’s won­der­ful pho­to­graphs from the vil­lages around the Acle area in the 1860s to 1890s, Percy Trett’s im­ages of Great Yar­mouth, Paul Harley’s 1980s pho­tos of punks and demon­stra­tions in the city, and Richard Til­brook’s colour pho­to­graphs of churches.

“So we have been pick­ing the best pic­tures, that tell the best sto­ries. We al­ways learn some­thing - whether it is lo­cal in­for­ma­tion or about the his­tory of pho­tog­ra­phy.”

Am­brotype im­age of uniden­ti­fied sitter from the Mitchell fam­ily ar­chive. Photo cour­tesy: Pic­ture Nor­folk, the Mitchell Col­lec­tion.

Im­ages such as this school pho­to­graph from the Mitchell Col­lec­tion are fea­tured in the won­der­ful Pic­ture Nor­folk on­line col­lec­tion.

One of the charm­ing pic­tures from the Mitchell Col­lec­tion held by Pic­ture Nor­folk, and fea­tured in the Pic­tur­ing The Past ex­hi­bi­tion at The Mu­seum of Nor­wich at The Bridewell.

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