Picturing the past

If you’ve ever wondered what your street looked like in Victorian times, or how your local town centre has changed over the years, look out for Merton Memories, a project capturing life in the borough from the early days of photography to the recent past.

Twenty volunteers aged between 15 and 70+ are helping to scan and catalogue 15,000 photographs which the council owns as part of the heritage lottery-funded project to create this unique archive. In an astonishing feat of historical research, the team has worked tirelessly to check and cross check each image. There has also been support from heritage groups including Merton Historical Society, the Museum of Wimbledon and Mitcham Camera Club.

The project will be completed by spring 2014 when a new website displaying the images will launch. Sarah Gould from the council’s local studies service explained: “This will enable people in Merton and across the globe to search and view images from our collection, find associated historical details, submit anecdotal and historical information and place orders for reprints.” There’ll also be a series of associated discovery days including craft events and history talks – watch this space to find out more.

For Sarah the most interesting images to emerge include those showing the construction of the underground around Morden in 1926, the borough’s former industries, from the lavender fields around Mitcham to the Liberty print works, and scenes of troops recuperating after the First World War. Not every image has been easy to classify though, so we’re looking for your help.

Old photo for identification as part of the Merton Memories project

Help the Merton Memories team to identify this old photogaph

The team believe that this image was taken in what was originally All Saints School in South Wimbledon but would be interested to hear from anyone who might know more. If you think you can help with identifying this photo above, please email any information to sarah.gould@merton.gov.uk, or post it to Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre, Morden Library, London Road, Morden, SM4 5DX. You can also send your answers to us on Twitter using #mertonmemories.