A smile from the past

Do you have a back room, or even a bottom drawer where you place things and say you will get back to them one day and have a sort out? When you do, doesn’t it usually bring forth all sorts of exciting and sometimes long forgotten treasures?

At Ashburton Museum we don’t have a bottom drawer or room where we ‘dump’ items, but we do have collections that are yet to be completely processed.

Knowledge is everything in museums, and the more we can record, note or discover about items in the collections, the better. We like to keep a complete record of everything, so that we know where it is, what is for, or what it was about. We are especially keen to ensure our records mean that an item has use into the future – for exhibitions, researchers, or education purposes, and more.

A lot of our time is spent ensuring that records are accurate and thorough. We also record the condition of items and monitor them on a regular basis, as that way we can be sure they remain in as good – or better – condition as they were in when they first arrived into our care.

There are some items, however that are ‘escapees’ from these processes. They may be catalogued, but we cannot offer full access to them because of their size, condition, or format. This could mean that putting the item on exhibition is impossible, as it could damage the item beyond repair. Or it could be that because an item is too large to scan, we can’t send a copy to a researcher, who would have to visit in person. Or perhaps the format is very difficult to access? We are very aware that this may happen with digital records in the future, once technology has moved on so quickly that equipment to unlock the data is no longer available.

Multiple problems

Then some collections have multiple problems. We cannot provide full access to them because of all of these reasons: size, condition, and format.

This is true for a large collection of negatives held at Ashburton Museum that once belonged to local photographer, Charles Tindall.

Tindall was a studio photographer, his premises were in the old Saunders building – where the Countdown car park is presently located. He took the usual wedding, baby and team images that were standard business for most photographers. He also, however, took images for the newspaper and candid shots at such activities as the A and P Show and sporting events.

While we have an index of what ‘might’ be in the many envelopes we hold, we are just beginning to slowly scan the negatives – finally allowing full access to them, and discovering at last, what a wonderful collection we have.

Scanning is a very long, slow, laborious – and sometimes boring – project, which will take many hours to complete; however some of the images are really interesting and will be useful additions to future exhibitions.  

We need your help

Others images may be of less interest to the Museum than they are to members of the community. These are the studio photographs of children, babies, and weddings that families would treasure. Unfortunately, we don’t always know who is in the photo, so it is impossible to pair the pictures with names of people.

While envelopes containing wedding images usually give surnames and the date, or at least the year, other family groups have just a surname – for example, the ‘Adams baby’ could be any little Ashburtonian.

We need your help to tell us who these people are to make them a more useful collection.

From time to time we will be highlighting interesting or unknown images from this collection to enjoy. Don’t forget, if any spark your interest you are more than welcome to come in and ask to see the rest of the envelope or collection, and we of course can provide copies if that Adams baby turns out to be you!

By Kathleen Stringer


  1. The ‘famous’ Adams baby. ©Ashburton Museum.
  2. ATC pass out parade, is this in the Domain? ©Ashburton Museum.
  3. The envelope with these negatives was labelled ‘Andrew’ – is that his first name or surname? ©Ashburton Museum.
  4. Allenton Post Office, perhaps when it was first opened. ©Ashburton Museum.
  5. After taking quite a few stock images of the Anderson family, Tindall began to experiment with ‘fun’ poses. Remember when children all dressed alike? ©Ashburton Museum.
  6. Tindall didn’t just take images of people, we have three packets of images for AIS, even ones taken at night. ©Ashburton Museum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: