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.
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.