Our collections - Photographic collection

Down County Museum has a wide selection of images in its collection. This archive has been built up over the last thirty years, many images copied from prints lent to us by local people. Early photographs are represented by original examples of daguerrotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, while images have been copied from the albums of families whose enterprising ancestors were among the first to experiment with the new process. By the end of the 19th century, when photography was in wider use, we can catch glimpses of the people of County Down, in their homes or at work, as well as in studio portraits.

boer war concert
A concert was held in the Assembly Rooms, Downpatrick to raise money for soldiers in the Boer War, in 1901. Here you can see the performers photographed outside the Governor's Residence.

We have important collections of photographs covering the 20th century; of special note are those representing the work of three local photographers.

Those taken by Thomas Gribben of Dunnanew, Loughinisland, span the years from about 1912 to the 1950s and were taken of his own community.

Thomas Gribben

Photographs by Thomas Gribben

Pat Hudson of Kilkeel photographed the landscape and people of South Down in the late 1930s - early 1940s.

Pat Hudson

Photographs by Pat Hudson

Our biggest collection, is that of Daniel J McNeill (DJ as he was affectionately known), and covers the 1930s to 1980s.

DJ McNeill Collection

Photographs by D J McNeill

From 1981, the museum has been adding to the archive with photographs taken by our own staff.

There are gaps in this record, which we realise and try to fill, especially when we are preparing for new exhibitions. We would certainly like more 19th century photographs, particularly any illustrating social and technological changes.

More images from the early 20th century would be welcomed, specifically from the period of the First and Second World Wars, showing life in County Down at that time. Photographs of people at work, especially of women in offices and mills, would be very useful. We would also like to see the northern and eastern parts of the county better represented to provide more complete geographical coverage. If you think you can help, please contact the Keeper of Collections, Lesley Simpson, lesley.simpson@downdc.gov.uk, or the Assistant Keeper, Madeleine McAllister, madeleine.mcallister@downdc.gov.uk.

A recent project, supported by the Northern Ireland Museums Council, has involved digitising photographs taken by Cecil Newman, in the 1960s-1970s, in Lacale and the Mournes.

Complementing the photographic archive is our collection of cameras. These range from a No 2 Bulls Eye camera, one of the first Kodak roll film box cameras to be made in the United States, between 1895 and 1913, to a modern, once use type, purchased locally in recent times. There are cameras used by professionals and amateurs, cine cameras, a range of novelty and miniature types and darkroom equipment.

Camera Collection

Cameras in our collection.