Photographic collection gets its own room in the Archive Stores

A recent move of material over to the Northern Region Film & Television Archive at Teesside University meant that a small room became vacant in the archive stores at Discovery Museum. 

The Archivists and the Conservation Officers agreed that this was the right place to manage the environment required to store photographic material. A grant from DCMS enabled us to purchase and install a dehumidifier and chiller unit which will help to maintain the right environmental conditions. 

I asked Matt, one of the Conservators, to explain, “The majority of the negatives are supported by a cellulose acetate layer which is prone to self destruction. As they age they give off acetic acid vapour. This causes the plastic to shrink and crumble distorting the image. Known as vinegar syndrome the chemical degradation can only be slowed down by a reduction in temperature. If the humidity is too high the silver in the photographic gelatine layer can also corrode and migrate through to the surface of the negative where it causes a mirror like effect damaging the image further”.  

Once the conditions were right the move could take place. Last week Dawn (Conservation Officer) & Peter (General Assistant) moved about 200 boxes of photographic negatives into their new environmentally conditioned home.  

Dawn and Peter, the move masterminds, show Mel how it’s done. The new store is looking good behind the red door.

Job done! Peter slides the last box into place.

So why invest in the Turner Collection? 

Turners was established in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1900s. It was originally a chemists shop but in 1938 become a photographic dealer. 

Turners went on to become a prominent photographic and video production company in the North East of England. They had 3 shops in Newcastle city centre, in Pink Lane, Blackett Street and Eldon Square. The business closed in the 1990s. 

From the 1950s the business was largely involved in film-making and made many commissioned films for local businesses and organisations including routine filming of ship launches on the Tyne. 

As well as these films, Turners’ work is represented in the archives of a number of companies and local authorities held at Tyne & Wear Archives, including Newcastle City Council, Mott, Hay and Anderson and Swan Hunter Shipbuilding. 

Access to the photographic negatives is provided through a series of day books that record each job undertaken by the company.  Volunteers are currently working on compiling an index to these volumes. This will make the collection more accessible. 

Over the years, Turners’ photographers took thousands of photographs, a small sample of which can be seen on our Flickr stream. 






3 Responses to Photographic collection gets its own room in the Archive Stores

  1. Wally Reeve says:

    I worked for Turners from Jan. 1950 to Nov.1952. Initially I started as a chemical mixer -cum- message boy.I then graduated to the glazing room and then into the darkrooms as a developer and washer. When it was necessary, we young lads would be recruited to accompany a photographer to help in setting up lights etc, at a job. These jobs were usually in ships, factories and the like.When Agfacolor was introduced I was part of the team that set up the darkrooms and processing rooms at Pink Lane. I remember Jack Turner and his fearsome manager Billy Binns. While in the Agfacolor division I ran the film processing darkroom until I was called up for National Service late in 1952. They were great days and I went on to continue in the photographic industry until 1985.

  2. Elizabeth Janice Beardmore says:

    Hello! Would you be able to find and give me the name and details of an Australian airman who is my father. I have a photo of him with Turners Newcastle upon Tyne imprinted on it, with the number 17167/35 in pencil on the back. It would have been taken in 1944/5. I only know his name was Peter. It would be wonderful if you have this information! Thank you. Elizabeth J Beardmore.

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