Volunteer blog

Our next instalment from Joanna on the experience of volunteering as well as her insights and knowledge of W W Winter:

Last week I wrote about cleaning and archiving glass plate negatives; another part of my time at Winter’s has been tidying, sorting and cleaning artefacts. Winter’s is full of rooms, cubby holes, and roof spaces, and the cellar. When I first came to Winter’s I found it hard to work out which roof space belonged to which bit and which room was where in relation to the others! When the new post office block was built in the 1960s Winter’s buildings were sadly curtailed. There is information about the ‘lost rooms’ on the wall at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the retouching room. Articles from these rooms were pushed into what space remained and many of the plate negatives ended up in a pile of broken glass in the cellar.

Helped by Louisa’s lovely Mum I set about cleaning, sorting and listing many of the artefacts that had been found. These could be letters, documents, boxes of paints, pencils, brushes, bottles, cases for carrying equipment …….the list is endless, also the larger items, props, furniture and photographic equipment.  We did wonder why there was a pair of black nylon stockings – apparently they made excellent light filters – and a cream maker (! ) we haven’t worked that one out yet. Armed with the natural hair brushes and e-cloths we attempted to remove years of grime and restore some order in this wonderful place

 

A Surprise Visit!

We had a fabulous Heritage Open Days weekend – it is such a pleasure introducing people to the history of Winters, and learning about your own experiences of having photographs taken in the studio. This year though, we had the most brilliant surprise – a visit from a great-grandchild of W W Winter himself! Sam popped over from the other side of the world and spent a few days here with us at the studio. He was kind enough to send us the following tribute after his departure…

The Magic of Winters

There are times in the journey of life when it seems that we are on a river that flows gently and sweetly through a land of forest and undulating grasslands. But rivers, as does life, have times of chaos, danger, heartache and pain before the current sweeps through into areas of peace, areas of rest – sections of a river where we can ease onto a grassy bank and recover and reflect on the journey that we have just undertaken. Some of those places have a certain magic about them. A peace that soothes the wounds of life and gives glimpses of a heritage that is both greater than you, and yet is you.

My past nine months have been filled with heartache, unfulfilled hopes and deep loss. On impulse, I directed myself from Australia to W.W. Winters Ltd in Derby. A place, I hoped, would help me find peace and purpose in my life; because for me, Winters Ltd was not only a journey into my past, but thanks to the beautiful people that make up Winters Ltd today, an anchor for my future.

There is a magic to Winters, and I cannot say for sure that it is sourced from the people who are Winters now, or whether it is the amazing building itself which is filled with history, lost rooms and unexplained and non-aligned joining’s and filled in archways. Or, perhaps, it lies in the 152 years of images that line the rooms and corridors and speak of a time long past yet also of today.

I have no sense of loss whatsoever from my great-grandfather W.W. Winter selling the business in 1910 to Messer’s Shepherd and King. Rather I am filled with appreciation for the current owners and staff both for their skill in photography and running the business, and for their passion in realising W.W. Winters as an integral part of not just Derby’s, but England’s history.

There is a magic to Winter’s – and I am blessed because of it.

Thank you.

Sam