A massive collection of tens of thousands of negatives from the Post Office Terrace Studio Cambridge 1865-1985 has been deposited with the Cambridgeshire Collection at Cambridge Central Library. Over a number of years, volunteers, particularly from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society, have been cataloguing the collection. Many of the thousands of negatives are portraits of local people and scans and prints from negatives can be purchased from the Cambridgeshire Collection . A guide to the catalogue of this amazing collection has been written and the Cambridgeshire Family History Society has kindly made available a spreadsheet with the first part of the catalogue. Both can be downloaded free from this site at www.fadingimages.uk/POT1.asp . It is now quite straightforward to discover whether your local ancestors were photographed at Post Office Terrace.
Portrait of Baron von Hugel, photographed at Post Office Terrace – negative from the Cambridgeshire Collection reproduced with their permission.
The real photo postcard below, showing Wothorpe Ruins, Stamford, was posted in Stamford in 1936. There is no publisher’s name on the reverse, but the face bears the initials DBS. Does anyone know who this publisher was? The postcard is numbered 1007 so presumably this was a larger publisher than, for example, a local village shop or amateur photographer.
The last few weeks have been spent working on negatives (so there have been few updates to the site). First, in an attempt to identify the sitter in a recently purchased cabinet photograph, taken by JE Bliss at Post Office Terrace Studio, I have been trying to understand the cataloguing of the fabulous collection of negatives from this Cambridge studio deposited in the Cambridgeshire Collection by Peter Lofts. It turns out that finding the negative of my print was a 300,000:1 shot – which actually worked! With much help from Mary Burgess a finding aid has now been written for this material – now available in the Cambridgeshire Collection and available on this site shortly.
Second a collection of around 5000 negatives and some prints by Cambridge photographer Thomas Howell are being catalogued ready to be deposited in the Cambridgeshire Collection. Below is an example print from the early 1940s showing a Rolls Royce car parked on Cambridge Market Place. The most interesting aspect of this photograph is that it catches construction of the Cambridge Guildhall, which had been re-designed in 1939.
The little framed silhouette below, found at a boot sale last weekend, possibly pre-dates photography. It is in a box wood frame 6 in x 4 in, mounted on what looks like a piece of silk with fine lace crinkled up to look like a garland of flowers. Presumably the silhouette was made as a likeless of a young woman. Superb skill went into crafting this little item. Then along came photography. There is no artist’s name on this little piece. I wonder if the artist then became a photographer or what other area of employment he or she took up from this point.
Below are three photos 7.75 x 6.25 inches, recently purchased, which appear to relate to Cambridge. They depict a group of people in the 1950s relaxing on a roof terrace. But something odd is happening – two of their number are climbing up the gap bnetween two buildings onto an upper roof. A careful look at the footware shows there are two different climbers, one wearing shoes, the other sandals. So what was going on? Were these a couple of the notorious Cambridge night climbers trying a new climb, or simply a couple of young men showing off ? There are no photographer’s details shown, but the quality of the prints suggest at least a good amateur status. The fourth image shows the reverse of all three – with an Air Ministry Crown Copyright Reserved printed thereon . This probably means that they were printed on government surplus air ministry photographic paper which was used by some photographers and developing and printing works after WW2. Has anyone any idea of the exact location of these interesting shots?
The site seems to be getting a little better known of late. We are delighted to have had a link accepted by Cyndis list – a major site for family historians. Also valuable information has been received this week from Nick Smith about various photographers in March which has enabled us to improve a number of entries. Another great step forward has been making contact with the family of RH Lord, one of Cambridge’s finest photographers. Meanwhile research continues into StickyBacks and photo stamps and the enigma of who was Mr StickyBacks of Peterborough?