Friday, 30 October 2015

James Bond Cameras

Miniature Cameras

Okay, so not actually James Bond's cameras but take a look at the fantastic miniature 'spy' cameras in the Winters / Cameron collection!

V P Twin Camera

The largest of the cameras above is the VP Twin camera, origianlly launched in 1935 and relaunched in 1952. It was manufactured by W. Elliott Ltd in Birmingham, UK; and its body is made of Bakelite. It took 127 film producing sixteen 5/8" x 1¼" exposures. Small enough to fit in a top pocket!
The next size up on the image above, is the Sida Geesellschaft fur photographische Apparate m.b.H., Berlin, Germany. It shot 25x25mm images onto paper-backed 32mm "Sida" rollfilm.

'Super Snaps' Flicker

The Supasnaps Flicker was a 6cm miniature camera dating from the 1980's. Made of injection moulded
polystyrene that took a 110 cartridge film it was suitable for keeping on a keyring and was part of the modern generation of pocket cameras that took over from subminiatures.

Mycro IIIA

We've saved the best 'til last; The Mycro IIIA subminiature was last in the Mycro line and was produced in Japan for export only. You can see just how small it was here against a 50 pence piece. It used 17.5mm paper backed rollfilm with early versions producing 10×14mm exposures and later ones producing a sqiare 14×14mm exposure. The camera came with a leather case, and has a cable release attachment.

We think everyone should have one!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Camera Museum

Historical Camera Collection

As part of its working history, Winters has accumulated a collection of field and studio cameras which we display to visitors during open days and private tours. Alongside these we are now delighted to host 'The Cameron Collection'.

The Cameron Collection

On loan from Geoff and Hazel Blackwell 'The Cameron Collection' was established and developed by Frank
Cameron, a Nottingham amateur photographer who used the cameras to illustrate talks to youth groups about photography. Following his death in 2009 the collection was taken over by Jackie Blackwell, his great niece who had worked in the industry for a number of years. The collection has recently been maintained by Jackie's parents Geoff (Treasurer of the Royal Photographic Society) and Hazel Blackwell and enhanced by purchases and donations.
Additions to the collection have been received from Bromley House, Nottingham, from items surplus to their own needs. Bromley House contained the first professional photographic studio in the East Midlands from 1841.
The collection also includes a number of direct donations from photographers in the Derby area.

The Development of Camera Technology

Together the exhibitions showcase the development of camera technology from the earliest long exposure studio cameras to smaller more mobile plate cameras, and upto and including the invention of digital photography. We will be blogging here about some of the examples on display here at W. W. Winter.


The Polaroid 320 Land Camera was manufactured from 1969-1971. It featured folding bellows, automatic exposure (with an external 'Electric Eye' lightmeter beside the lens), and was desinged for the Polaroid 100-series Packfilm.


The Pentacon Penti was a stylish little camera introduced in 1959 by Welta, a camera maker based in Freital near Dresden in East Germany. Using a 35mm film it takes half frame images (18x24mm). On the right hand side image you can see the film advance rod. Instead of winding the film on, pressing the rod would wind on, and then pop out again as the shutter was released.

Next blog coming soon... miniature camera in the Cameron Collection!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Derby Operatic Company

Derby Heritage

We had another lovely few Heritage Open Days at the beginning of September and were lucky enough again to receive more Winter's original photographs from visitors, one of whom brought in a copy of a Derby Opera Company souvenir programme.

Commercial Photography

Hubert remembers doing regular work for Derby Theatre and Derby Operatic Company, and we were delighted to flick through the pages of the programme for the production of Glamorous Night by Ivor Novello.
You can see from the souvenir programme that the Derby Opera Company was established in 1891, and in the year of the production (1955) was performing at Derby Hippodrome Theatre.
It includes some fantastic portrait photography of the company by Hubert King who rembers cast members coming to the studio on a Sunday morning, ready in their costumes and make up.
I particularly like the portait of Company President, R. P. Williamson, with his fabulous pipe!

The progamme includes a number of adverts and it's good to see a couple of Winter's fellow Derby icons; Foulds, and Bennets.
Winter's still specilaises in portraiture - do come in for a new one or to share your old Winter's photos!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Photographic History Course

Free Online Course on Photographic History


The University of Edinburgh are running an online course on the history of photography from the daguerreotype to the imapct of the cheap kodak camera.

"Explore the Victorian craze for photography, examine its history, from the earliest images in 1839 and how it has influenced the way we capture and share images today as photography moved from being a niche concern of the few, to one of the most important cultural forms of the modern world."

At Winters we will be studying the course from 12 October along with archivist Jane Middleton-Smith, artist Debbie Cooper and some of our brilliant heritage volunteers. We invite you to join us and share your experience and thoughts!
You can sign up for the course on here:
The course runs for 5 weeks and requires from 1 to 3 hours study per week.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Friday, 12 June 2015

A Really Good Advert

19th Century Studio Prints

When the first studio photographic portraits appeared around the 1850s, the cards onto which the photographs were pasted were as often as not lightweight and plain. A very few had the name of the studio inscribed on them but little else in the way of embellishment.

Artwork & Advertising

Illustrations suggesting the rise of photography as an art form
However, move on a decade or two and the cards had become almost more interesting than the photos themselves. The trend for over-decoration that characterised high Victoriana was also evident, in miniature, on the reverse of cartes de visite portraits. Some typical themes were flowers, exotic locations and winged beings, such as cherubs or fairy folk. Others displayed illustrations of cameras, often with an accompanying artist’s palette, signifying photography as an art form (see below). Coats of arms and crests were also utilised, often suggesting Royal patronage, including that of Queen Victoria herself. However, a court case in 1884 involving the nationwide firm of A and G Taylor indicated that claims of patronage by distinguished people were frequently implied rather than actual. This firm was hauled over the coals for using the royal arms without ‘the consent of the queen’.

Exhibition Medals

Walter William Winter won many medals for his work
W W Winter steered well clear of making false claims; the studio's track record did the talking. Winner of many medals from photographic exhibitions both in the British Isles and indeed worldwide, Winter only needed to cover the bacs of his photographic portraits with displays of these awards to show his photographic prowess.

In the attached images can be seen medals won from Bedford to Berlin and Calcutta to Chicago. Winter’s customers could not help but be impressed by the success of this Derby firm on the world stage of photographic endeavour.
Only one of the ‘backs’ bears a written date, that of 1897, but both show medals gained from the 1880s through to the 1890s. Some of these same medals can still be seen to this day, displayed in a glass-fronted ‘cabinet’ at Winter’s premises. These medals act as a fitting reminder of how successful the studio became and continued to be, a really good advert indeed.

Exotic locations were often featured on the rear of studio prints

Chris Hibbert

Winter's Heritage Volunteer Team

Friday, 15 May 2015

Volunteers Blog - Anne

Untold Stories behind the photographs...

Last week was my final session as a volunteer at Winter's as the first round of funding comes to an end. I've met so many interesting people involved in the project, all with a passion and an enthusiasm for this important process...and that was before I'd even started working on the glass negatives. Something about this project seems to have fired  the imagination of so many. Perhaps it is the uncovering of a whole store of Derby's history or the little frisson of excitement one feels when the next glass negative is cleaned, wondering what will be seen for the first time in 70, 80, 90, or 100 years.

Every photograph raises questions of one kind or another

I have been lucky enough to have worked on three sizes of glass negatives. The large ones were very formal photos and made me wonder; who was  the Grand Master in his full  regalia, or the gentleman photographed at his desk in his own study? Someone who wanted a portrait surrounded by his own books rather than go to the studio–possibly a man of standing?  And who was the lady in a graduation robe? Now the date of that image would be very interesting. 

Some of the middle size plates I dealt with showed shots of the shop floor at Leys and Ewarts, an engineering firm in Derby. Maybe it was for advertising or perhaps for the company magazine. The dress code was collars and ties, even for the man working the massive capstan lathe!

The smaller negatives became more personal; babies, toddlers, wedding photos, passport photographs. Why were the older couple with the unusual name - possibly  Polish - having a passport photograph taken? They look a little wary and uncomfortable in the photo; a button unfastened in the middle of his waistcoat, her coat looking a little too big. Where had they come from and where were they going?

Will mysteries be unraveled

This project is uncovering so many untold stories, some of which may be told, others partly solved and many will lie dormant for many more years until maybe a chance remark will set the story in motion and a family mystery may be unraveled.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Volunteers Blog - Daryl

Hello, I'm Daryl one of the Heritage Project volunteers.  Having recently been on the blogging workshop, offered to us by the Winter's Heritage Project, I thought I'd take the plunge and tell you about my experience of my half day conservation sessions at Winters.
I had done my half day of glass negative conservation a few weeks ago, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer for a second half day yesterday.
Being the second time (third if you count the Open Day) that I had been behind the scenes at W W Winter I felt a bit more at home.
I was working again with another volunteer that I had met at the Conservation Workshop in January which helped.  We had also been on the previous cleaning session together and at the blogging workshop.
We were directed to a back room on this occasion to address some 12 inch by 10 inch glass negatives.  Previously I had worked in the newly refurbished room on 3 inch by 4 inch negatives.  On that previous occasion we had not managed to process very many as it was our first visit, but this time we got through quite a few more.

During a break Louisa showed us some images from larger negatives that she had digitised by taking digital photos of them.  Unfortunately many of them were beyond recovery, but not all.  The images often of only part of the original were fascinating.  Although I have to admit to being more interested in the machines and buildings than the people, but that's just me.

There was a great image of what seemed to be a Foden Steam Lorry; our cursory web search suggested that it would have been between 1906 and 1911, over one hundred years ago !  Unfortunately our web search turned up nothing about the company painted on the lorry door "Spa".  The lorry was loaded with what looked to me like wooden crates which could have been beer or pop or could it have been "mineral water".  Was there a market for mineral water 100 years ago ?  I don't know, but I'm sure someone out there will :D
Back at the job we were there to do we cleaned and stored some images of Repton School Hockey Team, several wedding images, a couple of a workshop with belt driven lathes in operation and a company motor coach outing.
It was all over very quickly and since we are almost at the end of the first phase there were no further scheduled conservation sessions available.  I will have to wait and see what the next phase brings.

*Editors Note: We found a few Spa~Water bottles in the glass hole in the cellar. Spa-Tona (formerly Spa-Iron Brew) was a drink produced by Burrows & Sturgess of Derby. Hubert thinks we did commercial photography for them - hence the 'still full' bottles seen in this photo!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Volunteers Blog - Christine

The Importance of Research

Heritage volunteer, Christine, talks us through some historical research. It is this type of information that really helps to bring a story alive!

"When I first joined the Winter's project as a  volunteer the area that had most appeal for me was that of historical research. The first step was to decide which line of enquiry to take. Since Winter's was such a well-established firm in Derby, items in local newspapers seemed the best path to follow. The newspaper of choice was the Derby Mercury, and the starting date the early 1850s.

It was not long before all kinds of articles appeared, effectively chronicling the history of Winter's since Walter Winter first took over. From the newspaper I learned that although Walter was evidently a very accomplished photographer, all had not run smoothly with his business. An illegally erected studio, a fire on the roof and a theft from the shop were just some of the incidents that were reported. On the plus side much was made of the success of the studio in staying abreast of innovations in photography . It was also apparent that some of the best known likenesses in Derby were captured in Winter's studios, from mayors to manufacturers. Some photographic portraits were enlarged and sometimes coloured by hand, while others remained small enough to wear in a locket. The sale of fine art products also boosted the funds, as did exhibitions of well-known paintings.

As well as all Walter's business interests, the newspapers made it apparent that he was highly involved in his local community. As with many Victorian gentlemen philanthropy and religion were both part of the picture.
And Walter's employees were not forgotten either, as the firm's first works outing illustrated, when the employees were taken off to the Peak District to enjoy walks, games of cricket and a high tea. As time went on the photographic business went from strength to strength with generations of Derby families turning up at Winter's to have their photos taken. Doubtless, like my own family, many others have a cache of Winter's photographs tucked away in drawers or albums, an archive which has built up over one and a half centuries. It is great to be part of this amazing project which is beginning to uncover just how much of Derby life W. W. Winter captured over the years."

Friday, 17 April 2015

Guest Blog 3

I will definitely have to think of a better title for the guest blogs!

Today's guest blog is from is from Melissa and gives a lovely example of the way that photography resonates so much with each of us on a personal level:
I heard about the HLF project on East Midlands Today news and thought, finally something I’d like to volunteer for!

Although I was asked by friends and family, why would I volunteer for something you know nothing about, I’d always say because I want to learn something new. Having recently retired, the opportunity to learn new skills was a gift to me, as well as being able to contribute to a project which has the potential to be such a useful and interesting resource for the public.

After a full day of training it was my turn to start the cleaning and conservation work at Winters.

What struck me most about the whole experience was the second plate I worked on was of a young nurse who had qualified in the 1950’s, having completed her training at Aston Hall Hospital. Probably nothing out of the ordinary for any of the other volunteers, however, I started my nurse training at Aston Hall hospital in the 1980’s and to see this young women at the start of her nursing career had so many echoes in my own life I was blown away!

In that moment I knew I’d done the right thing—to me each photographic plate the volunteers preserve is a “stitch” in the yet unfinished “tapestry” that will be made by all our hard work.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Guest Blog 2

The Volunteer Experience

Local graphic designer, Michael Seymour, describes aspects of the project:

"As a volunteer at Winters I'm grateful to be a part of the preservation and maintenance of this local heritage site. Such a discovery offers historical insights to techniques and processes of a bygone era. In my opinion the very purpose of photography is to capture moments in time thus inspiring me to help rediscover and further preserve these forgotten moments of Derbyshire's past."

As someone who works with images, Michael is particularly intrigued by the pre-digital editing processes; the hand-retouched negatives that show the pencil shading to smooth out skin tone, the blocking out of areas with masking fluids; now performed 'virtually' on Photoshop as the captured image is now all-but-extinct as an artefact.

"Working alongside fellow volunteers and members of the Winters team we record, catalogue and digitise both written and visual data and are constantly finding new and exciting pieces to add to the collection."

Michael and his fellow volunteers are integral and essential to preserving these pieces of history!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Guest Blog

The Volunteer Experience

This week we have a guest blog from one of our heritage volunteers. Volunteers are often vital to heritage projects. They are a valuable resource and whilst they are not paid, they are part of an exchange which can involve access to otherwise private collections, specialist training, and skill development.

Below Anne Allcock talks about her first 'hands on' experience down in the cellar:

W. W. Winter's hove into sight and I had no idea what to expect apart from the information which we'd had on the training day, two months previously.  Having been made most welcome by Louisa, Angela and Jane, Angela then said "keep your coat on we're in the back room". Curiouser and curiouser...
All became clear when Jane said we'd be working on the large plates. Jane took  Barbara and myself through the warren into the back room and we started work on the plates. Coats were definitely needed but the cataloguing, cleaning and wrapping soon dispelled most of the cold.

Anne working with project archivist, Jane Middleton-Smith in the cellar

There was a lot of laughter and chat about photography (although we did make a detour to Mount Everest) and so much information was gleaned just from inspecting the plates, with Jane adding from her increasing wealth of knowledge.
Hubert joined us for a while to talk about the 'Victorian equivalent of Photoshop' i.e.hand retouching, and also about the solarisation effect on plates; so much learned in such a short time.
What an interesting and enjoyable afternoon it was.This is an amazing project and deserves all the help it can get—I'm greatly looking forward to my next visit.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Support from HLF East Midlands

The Heritage Lottery Funded Volunteer Room

Winter's used to have a suite of darkrooms running across the back of the building. With the advent of digital photography and imaging, these wet processing rooms fell out of use. The colour darkroom was set up in Mr Winter's old private office. Being a dark room we didn't see it much but this is what it ended up looking like:
Over a period of four months the layers have been laboriously peeled back, and restored to a workable office space for our HLF project volunteers. The insulation had to be stripped off the walls which revealed the old fire place, sash windows, and a secret doorway!

Once this was done, we were able to rebuild the room back from the bare-brick. Our builder, Jason Toon, worked hard to create the perfect finish:
All this labour that has been going on in the background means that these specially trained volunteers...
 ...can use this room.... turn these...
...into this!

Follow our blog to keep up-to-date as we scan and publish more images!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Photo Heritage Evidence

FORMAT Festival 2015 is up and running!

There are two ways to access Winter's archive during Derby's international photography festival:

Artist Debbie Cooper has produced a beautiful exhibition using images from large format old glass plate negatives discovered in Winter's cellar.

Inspired by the war time practice of recycling glass from negatives to build green houses, Debbie has re-imagined an architectural space in the form of a hexagonal glass house printed with portaits from Winter's.
The sense of light brings these images to life in a very personal way. Photography allows us to observe the face intensely without fear of social embarrassment, and gives us the space to reflect, 'who is this anonymous person / who am I?', letting our imaginations grow.

Tours* around the Winter's studio allow the public to further investigate the most important part of Derby's heritage; its people.

On display around the studio are many portraits spanning the history of the business over the last 150 years, as well as cameras and lenses. The original daylight retouching studio will be open to view, and take a turn around the large photo studio to see some of the old hand painted backdrops and props.

*Book your tour place via the Quad box office, and browse the FORMAT festival website for all the exiting events and exhibitions over the coming weeks. We look forward to seeing you!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Tours for FORMAT 2015

Tour dates and times have been announced!

During international photography festival FORMAT 2015, W.W. Winter will be running tours around the studio and building. One—hour tours will be available to visitors to explore the building and discover a history of photography, equipment and images in the studio's archive.

Booking Essential

Book through the QUAD box office on 01332 290 606 (places are limited to 15 per session).
Tours will take place at 12noon and 2pm on the following dates:
Saturday 14 March
Saturday 21 March
Wednesday 25 March
Tuesday 31 March
Thursday 9 April

Please note the tour includes at least one flight of stairs.

Artist in Residence

We are also delight to announce that artist in residence, Debbie Adele Cooper, will be exhibiting her Winter's inspired work at St. Werburghs Church, Cheapside, Derby (close to Derby Museum). Read about her work on the FORMAT website here, and follow her project on twitter:

We look forward to seeing you!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Volunteer Conservation Training

We welcomed forty volunteers to the Church Hall on Horwood Avenue on Tuesday 20 January for an introductory session on conservation.

We were joined by the lovely Anita Hollinshead, freelance museums and conservation expert, who talked us through the considerations involved in heritage collections.

Along with local archivist, Jane Middleton-Smith, we were able to look at the care, cleaning and conservation of historic glass negatives, wrapping them in bespoke acid free envelopes made by Hubert.
The next step is for volunteers to work on site at Winter's putting their new knowledge into practice!
Having been recently to the Derbyshire Records Office, I can tell you how exciting it is to see and handle old documents and we hope that the public will be able to access the images in the future and experience this delight!

Keep up to date with our HLF supported project here and on Facebook at

Friday, 2 January 2015

Revealing in 2015...

Yikes it is 2015 already!

We are looking forward to the pace picking up in our Photographic Archive Project.
January sees the first 'Collections Care Workshop' for our volunteers. They will be trained up in cleaning, packing and caring for glass negatives, learn about the history of glass negatives and Winters, and get some hands-on experience.

With our enthusiastic volunteer team behind us, we can then start revealing the images in the archive and find out what they might mean for Derby.

It is going to be a gradual process but we excited about tying the community history into the photo archives and sharing them with the county!

Lovely old view up Iron Gate to Derby Cathedral