GALLERY: Early photographs on show for the first time

Early photographs that were hidden away in storage for nearly 90 years have been framed and put on display to launch the new season at Marlipins Museum in Shoreham.

The Photographic Record and Survey of Sussex showed changes in the county from 1903 to the end of the 1920s.

Volunteer Carol Pople checks out some of the Shoreham photographs in The Camera as Recorder, an exhibition at Marlipins Museum. Picture: Steve Robard SR1812140

Volunteer Carol Pople checks out some of the Shoreham photographs in The Camera as Recorder, an exhibition at Marlipins Museum. Picture: Steve Robard SR1812140

The collection was packed away in its entirety in the 1930s and left untouched in library storage for decades.

The exciting discovery of the collection by the Sussex Archaeological Society, which owns Marlipins, has meant early images of Sussex, including customs, buildings, amusements and ceremonies, have finally been made available for public viewing.

Curator Emma O’Connor said: “The survey contains 3,000 photographs, 2,300 negatives and 600 lantern slides, as well as several volumes of paper archive.

“Working with colleagues from the Cultural Informatics Research Group at Brighton University will allow the images to be scanned to a number of formats and the associated data to be captured, creating a comprehensive catalogue and allow online access to enable further research into a wonderful collection of Sussex images.”

The society was founded in 1846 and from the early days, items of general historical interest across a number of areas were accepted.

By the late 19th century, there was a small photography collection and in 1904, the society initiated its own photographic survey of Sussex.

John Cuthbert Stenning, the society’s honorary photographer in 1899, was undoubtedly the driving force behind the survey. It slowly grew and in 1906, it was decided the work should be carried out by a new association, the Photographic Record and Survey of Sussex.

Although it remained the property of the society, the survey collection and its administration was at this point moved to Brighton Library. This at least meant it was kept together but it was effectively put away in the 1930s and the collection remained there until 2008, when it was returned to its original home, Barbican House Museum in Lewes.

The images on display are the original prints submitted to the collection. The accompanying image information forms, pasted above each photograph, are valuable documents in their own right.

One of the earliest images on display at the Marlipins is a view of Black Mill in Brighton in 1860. It is a salt print, the first positive print process, invented by William Henry Fox Talbot.

Pictures from the Shoreham area include one of Shoreham railway station in 1870, showing early signalling systems.

The museum building is recorded in a picture by AHC Corder, taken around 1900. At the time, it was owned by builders and decorators W.A. Gates and Sons.

Marlipins Museum, in High Street, Shoreham, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm, until October. Admission is £3 for adults, £1.50 children.