RECENTLY, the Vale & Downland Museum received an exciting new addition to the town collection: a collection of 70 glass plate negatives, taken by Wantage photographer Tom Reveley.

Born in Wantage in 1875, Tom was an active professional photographer in the Wantage area from 1896 to 1941.

From his studio in Market Place he became one of the most well-known North Berkshire photographers of the past 150 years.

The glass plates had belonged to Mr John Burgiss of Wantage Novel Library.

Herald Series:

When I noticed the shop being cleared earlier in the year we approached the staff on site and asked if there was anything that they would be willing to donate to the museum so that the history of the shop would not be lost.

Unfortunately I was too late and most of the contents had either already gone to the tip or had been sent to auction.

So we kept a keen eye on the local auction houses and noticed the plates coming up for sale.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the Vale & Downland Museum and some frantic bidding by the museum manager, we were able to secure the collection.

They are an eclectic mix of scenes – some show the town centre, some the canal, and there is also a small number of portrait photographs.

My favourites have to be the one of an unknown gardener stood amongst his vegetables with the parish church in the background.

Another is of Mr Belcher and his bee hives.

Herald Series:

I enjoy seeing the faces from our town’s past and as time goes on we hope to be able to put more names to the faces in the photographs.

With the kind help of Bob Chaplow, a member of Wantage Camera Club, all 70 slides have been digitised.

We plan to display as many of them as possible in an exhibition at the museum in the new year.

In the meantime we have had two enlarged and displayed in the museum café so please do pop along and take a look.