Wallasey Historical Society owns a collection of over 1,500 glass slides, including both negatives and lantern slides (positives). Since 2017 the Society has undertaken a project to sort, document, scan and store the collection with a view to making the images accessible to members and to the public.
The initial part of the project in 2017/18 was funded by the Society and led to exhibitions of 30 selected and enlarged prints, notably at Wallasey Central Library and the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead. Subsequently in 2019 a grant was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund focussing on the digitisation of the lantern slides and the restoration of two original magic lantern projectors owned by the Society. One result of this has been a series of seven lantern slide showings in October / December 2019 which was received with considerable interest.
Overall progress to date (August 2020) includes the digitisation of over 1,000 of the slides. Thanks to the NLHF grant, the Society has now established a new website with galleries capable of displaying this large collection. Through the website (www.wallaseyhistoricalsociety.co.uk) the images are now freely accessible to view through PC’s or mobile devices.
The subject matter of the 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, early 20th century slides of Paris by E Mazo, and ten World War 1 photos. There are also a significant number of images that are unrecognised, including views and miscellaneous scenes. There is thus a balance of local images from the early 20th century and late 19th, together with scenes from further afield.
This collection has been built up over a number of decades by the Wallasey Central Library and the Wallasey Historical Society, and there is for the most part a lack of detail over provenance. References within the collection however and from other documents show that there were two important gifts or bequests made by a local collector and amateur photographer, WS Foulger (1873-1955). These gifts were made in 1913 and by his relatives in 1956. The albums are in the reference library of Wallasey Central Library. There is a frontispiece (two graphics) at the start of one of the volumes, and the original glass negatives for these are within the Society’s collection. A number of glass slides correspond with prints in the Foulger collection.
The frontispiece referred to above lists contributors to the Foulger collection including the well known Wallasey photographers, Priestley and Sons.
There was also a link between the glass slides collection and the book ‘The Rise and Progress of Wallasey’ by EC Woods and PC Brown, there being glass slides corresponding with photographs and graphics in the book.
A number of the images in the collection are well known locally and the glass negatives in this collection are the original versions of those images.
As noted, the collection is strong on local scenes, but the origin of such a wide variety of photographic subjects within the UK and beyond is not explained.
The Society is grateful for the expertise of Richard Jackson who carried out the scanning and digital cleaning of slides, and the design of promotional materials and displays. We are also grateful to Richard Rigby of the Magic Lantern Society who restored the lanterns to working order and was very generous with his advice and assistance. Amy Hesketh of Zarbi Ltd has been very helpful in the establishment of the new WHS website and working on the display galleries.
The Society 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 particularly wish to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the funding of the Lantern Slides Project and their generous support over the past 18 months.
Special thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for providing funding for our Glass Slides Collection and our new website.