Historic Postcard Collection Acquired

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Historic Postcard Collection Acquired

The Society is delighted to announce that it has recently acquired a large and significant collection of steamer postcards and photographs.

An eagle-eyed member spotted that the collection was due to be sold at a Somerset auction house in early February, so a member of the archive committee travelled down to view and assess the items.

The collection turned out to be extremely familiar. It was the life’s work of one of the founder members of the PSPS, Capt. L.G.A. Thomas whose card bearing membership No.2 was tucked into one of the albums.

George Thomas receives Monarch's bell from Charlie Kaile

George Thomas (r) receiving the bell of PS Monarch (1888) from Cosens’ board member and former General Manager Charles Kaile (l). The bell was presented to the PSPS at a ceremony on board P.S. Embassy in Weymouth Backwater on 8th March 1961, and remains in the society’s collection to this day.

George was an avid collector and keen steamer historian who would spend hours poring over any newly-acquired photo, attempting to pin down its precise date and location. His ability to identify and date every small change in a ship’s appearance was legendary, and he loved to engage in lively correspondence with fellow collectors such as the late George Owen of Swansea and Eric Payne of the Isle of Wight.

His collection is contained in 25 albums containing approximately 4,000 postcards, original photographs and copies. They are organised chiefly by company, with P&A Campbell, Cosens, the Isle of Wight Railway steamers and Red Funnel particularly well-represented. Other albums cover the Clyde, cross-channel services, tugs, and assorted other ships, and there are also several with a focus on locations such as Bournemouth, Weymouth and Ilfracombe. Each album is subdivided  into individual ships whose pictures are then presented chronolgically.

When George died in the mid 1980s the albums were sold at auction to a Somerset collector who had no particular interest in ships. They remained unused in his store room until he passed away late last year, and they once again surfaced on the auction circuit. They will now be catalogued before being added to the PSPS archive at Chatham where one hopes they will provide a rich source of information to members. It is a real pleasure to know that the valuable work of one of our earliest members is now in the ownership of the Society which he helped to set up.

[signature name=”Richard Clammer”]