The Curry Slides

LIFE IN THE ASTONS AT THE end OF THE nineteenth CENTURY

Glass lantern slides preserve the past

We are extremely lucky in the Astons to have a fascinating collection of Victorian glass lantern slides, which are generally thought to have been taken by the Reverend Curry of the Presbyterian Church in Spring Lane - where he was in office from 1892 to his death in 1921 - and who was a keen amateur photographer. It is a comprehensive collection showing life in and around the Astons around the turn of the century.

When the Reverend Curry retired the collection passed to the next minister, the Reverend Lyons, and in turn to his daughter. Miss Jean Lyons lived in the village for most of her life, but when she left the village in the late 1980's she gave the collection to a friend and neighbour, Barbara Engledue, and when Barbara died they were passed to her cousin Stephen Whitwell (a significant recorder of village history) and when Stephen left the village he passed them to his friend and neighbour, Mike Page. Mike converted them into 35mm slides, which were in turn digitised in the 1990's by his granddaughter Anna Dillon. In 1995, when he left the village, Mike gave the original glass lantern slides to the Astons History Group. 

Below are his notes to his daughter Judy at the time of the handover:

"(The slides) were presumed taken towards the end of the last century, or perhaps a little later. For instance the picture of St Michael’s church is without a clock face and we know that this was put up in 1896.The slides are glass ‘sandwiches’ with the photographic images as the meat in the sandwich, on one of the pieces of glass. Some are cracked or otherwise damaged, probably by being dropped during slide shows. It was to avoid this risk that we got the 35mm copies made.

The descriptions of each picture are based upon the bits of paper in the folder and on detailed examination of each one to verify or amend details. The numbering was altered at some time in the past, and there is therefore no direct correlation between the early pencilled list (which is nevertheless interesting on its own account) and the other lists. The present numbering is that which Stephen Whitwell and I inherited when we went through them all, but I lettered the non-Astons ones. My original sorting and indexing was done at the request of Barbara Engledue, who was their ‘guardian’ until just before she died."

The full collection and a detailed history of the collection can be seen on the main history section of astons.net