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The Vernon Lamb Archive, About
A Unique Photographic Record of Matlock & District, 1910-1915, and World War One Soldiers

Lamb Family Index Others in the Foresters

The Vernon Lamb Archive is a collection of new photographs, created between 2013 and 2014 from the original negatives (plates) by Robert White of Hertfordshire. The original collection began about 1910 when Vernon Lamb arrived in Matlock and stopped in 1915 after he joined the Army. However, it is almost certain that all the non army images were taken between 1910 and 1914, whereas the pictures of soldiers were taken between 1914 and 1915.

Research has been undertaken by Ann Andrews, who has also prepared and resized the images for the internet and designed these web pages.

A brief account of the archive's discovery.

Perhaps discovery is a misnomer as the archive was never hidden, more stored away for safe keeping. It had belonged to a Hertfordshire press photographer, the late Anthony Gregory, who was the grandson of Vernon Lamb. It was subsequently bought from his widow by Robert White.

The archive was kept in a small wooden chest that was completely full of boxes of half plate glass negatives; the boxes had originally contained the unexposed plates. They were not protected in any other way and it is a wonder that they have survived as well as they have. Some were quite scratched, but most were in a useable condition. We know that Anthony Gregory made some prints from the negatives, and gave copies to Watford Museum.

The negatives are now stored in condensation free conditions.

How the negatives were transformed into photographs.

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 thin.

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.

How further information about the archive was obtained.

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 the late Robert White of Hertfordshire. Robert was 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 VLA4867, VLA4868, VLA4887, VLA4893, VLA4894, VLA4896, VLA4923, VLA4924, VLA4947, VLA4960, VLA4967, VLA4970, VLA4981, VLA4983, VLA5094, VLA5037, VLA5158, VLA5186, VLA5189, VLA5192, VLA5200, VLA5218, VLA5230, VLA5249, VLA5253, VLA5258, VLA5259, VLA5263);
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, VLA5219);
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, VLA9758);
Barbara and Debbie Bridge and Bob Morton (VLA5023, VLA5102, VLA5115, VLA5121, VLA5135, VLA5264);
Tony Holmes (VLA5010);
Sally Mosley (VLA5037);
Mike Spencer (VLA5151);
Richard Bagshaw (VLA4992).