MUSEUM NOTEBOOK

I have been working as a museum volunteer with archivist Sandi Black on Wednesday afternoons for some years.

In recent times this has involved copying information onto various databases, a somewhat tedious but necessary task.

Gradually, patterns begin to emerge and connections can be made as more and more is recorded. It can be quite fascinating.

A number of very particular associations or connections began for me with an exhibition at the museum, curated by collection manager Trish Nugent-Lyne, which opened in October 2019.

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Museum Notebook
Museum Notebook

Titled Here Come the Brides, wonderfully preserved wedding dresses and outfits tell not only a history of fashion changes through the years, but they also record local and cultural tastes and traditions.

An important adjunct to Trish's research has been the museum's holdings of negatives from photographs taken at the Tesla Studios between 1938 and 1955.

There are three registers containing the orders for copies of these images.

The volumes are large, heavy and rather battered and have engaged my fellow volunteer Mick Hills and me for some time now.

Each page is divided into multiple columns giving all the details of each print: order number, subject, size, and the name of the person making the order. All handwritten.

The subjects reflect a great variety of images but we are looking just for the wedding groups.

The wedding of Samuel Stephen Timbs and Alice Mary Robson in Oxford in 1896.
The wedding of Samuel Stephen Timbs and Alice Mary Robson in Oxford in 1896.

Being so involved with brides and weddings and photographs has led me to re-examine some examples from a personal collection of family photographs.

At the wedding of my grandparents, Samuel Stephen Timbs and Alice Mary Robson, in Oxford, Great Britain, in September 1896, there was a great profusion of huge hats and frills and beautiful bouquets.

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My father Jack, born in 1897, was the first of their six children, eventually three boys and three girls.

In 1911 Samuel and Alice took their family and left Oxford and the family businesses to settle in New Zealand.

There have been butcher shops associated with the Timbs family in St Clements in Oxford, from 1876 to 1978.

In New Zealand, Samuel also set up butcher shops and farms in Te Kuiti and Rangitīkei, later in Taihape, and finally, Whanganui. Which brings me to the second photograph.

A Tesla Studio portrait of Stephen and Alice Timbs with their extended family on the occasion of their Golden Wedding in 1946.
A Tesla Studio portrait of Stephen and Alice Timbs with their extended family on the occasion of their Golden Wedding in 1946.

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After 50 years of marriage, the six children were seated beside or stood just behind their parents, with Samuel Stephen and Alice Mary in the centre.

Grandma is holding the most recent grandchild. At the front and in the other rows behind are daughters and sons-in-law, and the older grandchildren.

The three sons followed the family tradition and were all butchers.

My dad and his brother Reg had their business at 86 Guyton St. Some people may still remember it.

So there we are: two images of weddings 50 years apart.

It is amazing the connections that working as a volunteer at the Whanganui Regional Museum can beget!

•Mary Laurenson is a volunteer at the Whanganui Regional Museum.