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Wallasey Historical Society

Founded 1969 - Charity Number 1047762

The Lantern Slide Project

View the programme of events

Wallasey Historical Society owns a large collection of glass slides, totalling approximately 1560. Of these 830 are lantern slides (positives) and 730 are glass negatives. Until recently they have not been correctly stored nor made accessible to Society members or the public to view.

Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Society has been able to undertake a project to sort, document and scan the lantern slides with a view to making them available to be seen and appreciated. One means of sharing the collection is the projection of the lantern slide images onto a screen using one of two magic lanterns which are owned by the Society and have been repaired and restored as part of the project.

A pilot project was run in 2017 resulting in the digitisation of 450 slides including 200 lantern slides. The pilot was financed from the Society's reserves. Three exhibitions were run as a result of the pilot project which resulted in considerable local interest and established the Society's ability to manage the process.

The purpose of the project is to scan and digitise the lantern slides (up to 620 slides), safely preserve both slides and digitised images, and share the results with the Society's membership and the public. As noted, the project includes servicing and repairing two original magic lantern projectors, one made by Archer and Sons, a Liverpool based company and the other by Lancaster and Son, a Birmingham based company.This will enable viewing of images as originally seen as well as giving an appreciation of the development of this aspect of photography during the era when many of the photographs were taken.

Another part of the project will be to establish a new website, as the present website is not adequate to display a large collection of slides. Viewing the images will be free and fully accessible, either via the website or via the Wirral Borough Council Archive Service where the slides will be stored at the end of the project.

The subject matter of the lantern slide collection includes local views of Wallasey, Wirral and Liverpool, a large collection of photos of shipping and the Mersey, and scenes from Wales. There is also a collection of 60 slides from Chester, 30 Mazo slides of Paris, and 10 World War 1 photos. There is therefore a balance of local images from the early 20th century plus scenes with wider significance.

The Society is very grateful for the expertise of Richard Jackson who was engaged to carry out the scanning and digital clieaning of slides, and the design of promotional materials including the display stand. We are also most grateful to Richard Rigby of the Magic Lantern Society who restored the lanterns to working order and was very supportive.

The project is also grateful for the involvement and support of several organisations including Wallasey Central Library, Wirral Archives, Merseyside Maritime Museum, and the Wilfred Owen Story. We also greatly appreciate the advice and encouragement of Eileen Willshaw, Wirral Borough Council Heritage Officer.

It is intended to build on this project in future by digitising the glass negatives and exploring their particular importance.

In summary the project is bringing to light a neglected heritage and sharing it with a range of local people through the various media available today and through opportunities for local engagement.

Please see the programme of lantern slide presentations taking place from October to December 2019 at Wallasey Central Library.


The Lantern Slide Series


Wallasey Central Library - 6.30pm to 8.00pm

Thursday 17th October
First World War Images
With poems performed by the Wilfred Owen Story
Thursday 24th October
The Cities: Liverpool and Chester
Thursday 31st October
New Brighton and Wallasey: Local scenes from times gone by
Tuesday 5th November
Shipping in the Mersey and Beyond
Jointly presented with the Merseyside Maritime Museum
Thursday 21st November
The Mersey Ferries and Training Ships
Thursday 28th November
Early 20th Century images from Paris and Holland
Tuesday 3rd December
Wales and Rural landscapes