Revealing a Lost Generation: 600 Images Now Available on Flickr

How much do you know about your Edwardian ancestors?  Did you have ancestors living in the Sutton or Epsom areas between 1905-1917, or do you have a connection or interest in anyone that could have lived here between those dates? The Past on Glass project is digitising a vast collection of glass plate negatives by local Edwardian photographer David Knights-Whittome who had shops in both Sutton High Street and Station Approach, Epsom.  Among the collection are thousands of studio portraits of local soldiers, nurses, civilians, families and school/community groups.  The archive, held at Sutton library, is largely uncatalogued and though work has begun to clean, rehouse and digitise the plates, in many cases all we have to go by in identifying these individuals is a surname.  Can you help us identify some of these people?

Over the last three months close to seven hundred plates have been scanned & catalogued and most of these are now available to view on the new Sutton Archives Flickr page which will be updated regularly with new additions.  Please note this is different to the Sutton Views flickr page, which displays only a few images from the collection among a wider set of Sutton images.

The plates, which vary in condition,  were moved from their original home in the basement of 18 High St. Sutton in the late 1970’s and while a few have been investigated in this time, many of these plates have not seen the light of day for over one hundred years.  We are thrilled to finally be making them publicly available and hope that by doing so we stand a better chance of uncovering the stories behind the faces.

Work is ongoing to scan these plates, which number over 10,000, and we are working through the archive alphabetically by size so it is worth checking back periodically if you are interested in a specific surname.  If you think you can help in identifying some of these individuals then please let us know – or make a comment on the relevant  image file on Flickr and we will be in touch.

Do you have a Knights -Whittome photographic print among your own family archive? If so, do get in touch, we would love to be able to compare these plates to the final prints that were produced.

This project is relying on volunteer help.   If you have an interest in local or family history and some spare time, and would like to get involved then email the Project Officer Abby Matthews at for more details.

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