A collection of over 300 glass plate negatives has recently been catalogued and prints are now able to be consulted at the Warwickshire County Record Office. Some of these photos were rescued by Bill Lomas from Simms scrap yard in Rugby and donated to Rugby Library by his son, and they are now safely stored at the record office. Most of the photographs have never been published and they paint a fascinating picture of Rugby and surrounding villages around 1900.
Unusual items include aerial pictures of Rugby, a science lesson at Rugby School and the construction of a goods yard on the Great Central Railway in 1896. Photos of the town centre show the market and cab-rank, with shops and hotels that have now disappeared. The old town hall stands on the site of Woolworths, now the 99p Store. Photos of St Andrew’s Church show the interior in 1870 (much altered since) and the spire being erected (in 1894/5). A flock of sheep stroll up Church Street and the milk cart delivers in Hillmorton Road.
There are photos of decorations and processions for royal events such as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (in 1897), a visit by King Edward VII (in 1909) and the coronation of George V (in 1911). We see the local Territorial Army and airships before the First World War.
50 of the photos were taken around 1900 by the Rev. E.N. Dew (chaplain at a Stratford upon Avon college) to illustrate a talk about ‘The Warwickshire Avon’. Mr F.J. Gibson (of Bilton Road) took a few of the rest, but most of the photographers remain a mystery. It is hoped that further research will reveal the author, date and location of all the slides; any help that visitors can give will be most welcome.