The Heritage Lottery funded project to make Whinfield’s historic collection of lantern slides available online has now been completed by the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS), who look after the collection at the Hive. 2018 marked a century since the donation of 2,532 lantern slides by Whinfield’s widow, Laura Jane Curtler, to the Worcester Diocesan Church House Trust.

Justin Hughes, Community Projects Officer for the WAAS, said: “The significance of the entire collection being available online cannot be overestimated. It’s incredibly rare to have so many well-preserved slides of local, national and international interest available publically.”

Chest holding the Whinfield slides

Whinfield (b. 1862; d. 1917), a local man hailing from Claines, Worcester, used photography to document his travels around the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. The photographs, taken over a period of about 40 years between 1870s and the 1910s, include images of culturally important global landscapes, buildings and architectural features, some of which no longer exist. Topics including religion and organs are also present in the collection. Whinfield, in his role as an organist, pioneered the use of contemporary technology, using some of these slides to project hymn lyrics during services at St. John Baptist Church in Claines.

During his lifetime, Whinfield shared aspects of his collections with many audiences through a lecture titled ‘Tour around the World in 80 minutes’. Over the last year, this lecture has been re-enacted and reinterpreted, with public performances at both St John Baptist Church in Claines and Huntington Hall in Worcester.

Lantern slides evening

“It is hoped that through making the slide sets available globally, the collection will inspire further research into the unique technology represented by the lantern slide,” continued Justin.

The collection is accessible for research / reference purposes through the Explore the Past initiative, located at the Hive in Worcester. It is also now digitally available on the UK Lantern Society website, Lucerna: https://www.slides.uni-trier.de/collection/index-set.php?id=2500090.