It was too great a task to copy the complete collection of negatives.
So Robert White carefully sorted them, discovering that the subjects
included weddings, local businesses, people in a studio setting,
firemen, bandsmen, a group of freemason and many pictures
of men in military uniform.
He then copied many of the half plate glass negatives over
a light desk using a Canon digital SLR camera fitted with a Canon macro
lens to avoid any distortion. Some of the plates were in a fairly bad
condition and have odd processing marks on them. It is possible that
the developer did not evenly coat the surface for the whole of the processing
time, which happened if you put several plates in the solution at the
same time. However, he decided that it was better to deal with them and
accept their deficiencies than not see them at all. Other images were
greatly over or under exposed so the negatives were very dense or very
Robert subsequently reversed the negatives using Photoshop
and got rid of the worst of the blemishes on the majority of the images.
Small ones remain but the images are generally of a very high standard.
Sadly, none of the photographs is identified in any way. The only ones
that give some indication is where the name of the place or activity
was written onto the picture. "Matlock" has been written on
several negatives so Robert contacted the web mistress, Ann Andrews,
after discovering she knew who Vernon Lamb was.
From census and other research into Vernon Lamb's life it became clear
that the archive began around 1910 and finished about 1915, possibly
when the Army seems to have banned individual soldiers from having cameras.
The new images had been grouped by subject, but
the number of groups had to be increased because the subject matter was
so wide ranging. Where possible, exact dates and locations have been
provided from information checked in newspapers and other genealogical
resources. Some of Mr. Lamb's more newsworthy pictures were published
in "The High Peak News", for example. But others would
have been printed onto postcards which had photographic paper on one
side and given to family members.
The collection of groups of WW1 soldiers proved to be hardest initially,
as it quickly became apparent that several of the photographs were not
taken in Derbyshire. There was an element of luck involved, though, and
one image of marching men (VLA4923)
provided the vital clue: there is a street sign on one of the buildings.
A search was then undertaken, first using Streetmap to
find all the roads with the same name in the U.K. The results from Streetmap
were then compared with the known locations of the 2/6th Battalion
of the Sherwood Foresters (Lamb's Regiment) in the early years of the
War so, with fingers crossed that WW2 bombing had not destroyed all
the buildings shown in the archive images, the web mistress began searching
various towns using the street view on Google Maps. This also proved
to be an extremely useful tool and the web mistress is now certain
that several photographs were taken in Luton where the Battalion was
stationed during the first half of 1915.
The Regimental diary, WO 95/3025/3, 2/6 Battalion Sherwood Foresters
(Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment), Nov 1914 -
Feb 1916, is now held by the National Archive. It has helped provide
more accurate dates for the soldiers' movements.
A great deal is still not known about the identities of the people,
vehicles, locations, or indeed the purpose of some of the objects shown
in the images. If you can provide more information or corrections, do
please get in touch ensuring you include the image reference number (click
the link in the page footer).
This material is available on The Andrews Pages website thanks to
the generosity of Robert White of Hertfordshire. Robert is the author
of several books, published originally by Shire
Publications and now by Osprey. For some time the first two books had
been out of print but they are now back in stock.
White, Robert (1984, 1986) Discovering old cameras, 1839-1939
White, Robert (1995) Discovering Cameras 1945-65
White, Robert (2002) Photographic Accessories 1890-1970
Also with very grateful thanks to Andy Andrews who helped research the
Army information, such as gun types, ranks, etc.
Several others have provided additional information since the Archive
first went on-line. Thank you to:
Ken Smith (VLA4894, VLA5202, VLA5242);
Susan Tomlinson (general help and VLA4923, VLA4960, VLA5094; VLA5037);
Colin Goodwyn (VLA4923, VLA4931, VLA4932, VLA4934, VLA4936, VLA4939,
VLA4941, VLA4960, VLA4963, VLA4945, VLA4956, VLA4968, VLA4994, VLA530,
VLA5101, VLA5010, VLA5023, VLA5058, VLA5059, VLA5282, VLA5090, VLA5092,
VLA5116, VLA5122, VLA5129, VLA5139, VLA5193, VLA5194, VLA5195, VLA5197,
David Midgley (VLA4937, VLA4958);
Douglas Johnson (VLA4934);
Phil Wigfull (VLA5211);
Michael Briggs (VLA9750, VLA9753, VLA9771, VLA9772, VLA9774, VLA9775, VLA9777,
VLA9804, VL9820, VLA9837, VLA9734, VLA9738, VLA4879, VLA4886, VLA4879,
VLA4890, VLA4901, VLA4906, VLA4908, VLA4911, VLA4923, VLA9821, VLA9826,
Barbara and Debbie Bridge and Bob Morton (VLA5023, VLA5102, VLA5115, VLA5121,
Tony Holmes (VLA5010);
Sally Mosley (VLA5037)