It is always interesting to see old images of familiar scenes, and the Spanton Jarman Collection offers those who love Bury St Edmunds a fascinating view of our town as seen through the eyes of professional photographers at the end of the 19th century and early years of the twentieth century.
The photographic business was founded by William Spanton at 16 Abbeygate Street in 1864, and was rather grandly named the ‘Repository of Arts and West Suffolk Photographic Establishment’. He offered a range of artistic and photographic work, including house decorating, paperhanging, glazing, carving, framing and building. However, as photography became popular he began to focus on that and gave up some of his other activities. William died in 1870, at the age of 47. His son, William Silas Spanton, who was then a student at the Royal College of Art in London, returned to Bury St Edmunds to take over the business, which he ran successfully until 1901.
The business was subsequently purchased by Harry Isaac Jarman, who had been apprenticed to John Palmer Clarke, photographer, of Angel Hill. Harry had inherited a large number of glass negatives with the Spanton business, and when Palmer Clarke moved to Cambridge in 1903, he acquired a number of his negatives, showing images Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk villages.
The business continued to prosper and upon Harry’s death was taken over by his son Oswald Jarman who continued until 1977. By the 1930s the use of glass negatives was phased out as they were overtaken by new technology.
Oswald Jarman was a member of the Bury St Edmunds Past & Present Society, and often gave talks on Bury’s past, with film slide presentations showing the photographs. He recognised the importance of preserving these unique records, and on reaching his retirement deposited the fragile glass negatives at the Bury St Edmunds Record Office, where they have since been safely stored in appropriate environmental conditions.
Oswald Jarman and his family wanted the collection to be made available for all, and the Past & Present Society is working to ensure that all 4000 images are digitised and made available to view on line. For more information and to see the latest additions to our website visit www.burypastandpresent.org.uk
some have survived to this day, but all have seen changes.
here are some you might recognise.
For more information and many more images from the Spanton Jarman collection, please visit our website www.burypastandpresent.org.uk