Kentish Photography Project Receives Heritage Lottery Funding

by Rachel Johnson | 20 September 2006
Black and white photograph of Maidstone High Street in 1906 with old fashioned motor cars

Restored photograph of Maidstone High Street in 1906 from the pilot project. Courtesy Maidstone Museum

A project that will cast light on thousands of historic photographs of Kent, has been awarded a £19,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery fund.

The scheme, known as Out of the Shadows: Into the Light, will enable Maidstone Camera Club, in partnership with Maidstone Museum, to rescue over 3,000 glass photographic plates dating from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Simon Lace, manager of Maidstone Museum commented: “This project is a great example of how, working together, museums and the local community can bring history to life. The negatives were inaccessible and forgotten. Now, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team of local enthusiasts, we can offer our visitors an amazing glimpse into the lives of their ancestors.”

Colour photograph of Maidstone High Street in 1906 with old fashioned motor cars

Same photograph colourised by Roy Carey FRPS. Courtesy Maidstone Museum

The project follows the success of a previous pilot scheme where 800 plates were restored. The results were impressive; and the pictures revealed Kentish life as it had rarely been seen before.

Dock workers unloading sailing ships, hop pickers at work, street scenes, long demolished buildings and Victorian picnickers at the beach were just some of the images on show when 200 of the best examples were exhibited at the museum last year, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.

It will be painstaking work for the Maidstone Camera Club as they remove blemishes, fingerprints, cracks and spots to restore the black and white photographs to their original condition. However, their labour will hold a reward. The pictures in this year's project are the work of several local photographers and for the most part have never been printed before, so it will be the first time that the positive images will be revealed.

“This is a project that really opens a window into the past," said Sheena Vick, Manager of the South East of the Heritage Lottery Fund. "It will preserve a fascinating visual archive that is certain to engross local residents, schools and visitors.”

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