Previously Unseen Photos Of Scilly To Go On Display

old photo helicopterA new booklet on the history of photography in Scilly will be published next year.

Museum Curator Amanda Martin is writing it, following a significant response to her Radio Scilly appeal for locals’ pictures documenting the islands’ past.

The museum received £21,000 of Local Action Group funding towards a high quality scanner and a portable hand held copier. Many locals have brought in old photos for copying so they can be stored and shared on computers without risk of deterioration.

Amanda has discovered that the first Scilly photos were taken by mainlander William Jenkyns and featured the Abbey Gardens and Cromwell’s Castle. The eleven pictures were commissioned by Tresco owner Augustus Smith in 1856.

Locals soon recognised the lucrative nature of the new technology and John Gibson and John Tonkin bought their own cameras, as family portraits became popular.

Amanda says photography played a greater role in island life than had previously been thought and she hopes more interesting pictures in family albums can be shared.

She’s keen to find natural, unstaged snaps of people going about their everyday business and especially how tough life was, particularly on the off-islands.

Amanda says people have always loved to take photos in Scilly, which means there’s a wealth of material documenting the people, buildings and wildlife.

Unusual images uncovered so far depict land army women playing golf before the course opened, the building of the St Mary’s power station and a unique photo of Scilly’s fish catch being landed at Porthcressa around 1870.

Amanda had hoped to take portable equipment to the off islands to capture images for the collection, but as the response has been so good, she’s planning to move the bulkier, high quality scanner for sessions there.

Images will be displayed at the museum on a digital touch screen display and the booklet will be available next year.

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