During my placement I have been spending Monday afternoons working at Winterbourne House and Garden. I have really enjoyed my brief time working here – it is such a beautiful setting – and I hope that the project I was able to complete in my few hours here will make a contribution to the collections.
Winterbourne House was built for John and Margaret Nettlefold. John Nettlefold was an industrialist and City Councillor in Birmingham whose most notable contribution was the improvement in public housing for the working class. In 1903 he commissioned the architect Joseph Lancaster Ball to design and build Winterbourne House. It is a rare surviving example of an early 20th Century suburban villa and garden built in the Arts and Crafts style. The house and gardens have been restored and furnished in the style of the period. I enjoyed seeing the rooms set up as they would have been used by the varying aged Nettlefold children. I particularly loved the William Morris wallpaper and curtains that have been used to decorate the rooms, and the many fine examples of local craftsmanship in the details throughout the house.
Winter was not an ideal time to see the gardens, as many of the plants are dormant and the badgers had taken a liking to digging on the lawn. Nevertheless, I am a keen gardener myself, so I could identify the many wonderful plants they do have in their gardens and imagine them in their glory in the other seasons.
I was able to see the incredible printing press studio that is housed in one of the out buildings. There are several 19th Century printing presses and typographic collections that are still used by printers and artists from the area. It was wonderful to be able to consider all the important documents, books and posters that have been created using these presses.
The main project I worked on whilst at Winterbourne was to create access copies for the digitised photographic archive. The collections of historic photographs has been scanned in TIFF format, which whilst it is a great archival format, the file sizes are very large, and cannot be easily emailed or used on the internet. As I only had a limited amount of time to work with the collection, I created documents outlining the processes of converting TIFF files to JPEG files for access using two different software platforms. I was able to convert a large amount of photographs through batch processing, however a volunteer will be engaged to finish the project using the instructions I have written. This was a great project for me to work on, as I was able to use knowledge and skills I have developed though my photographic degrees and my certificate in audiovisual archiving. I also really enjoyed seeing some of the historic photographs, particularly those depicting fashions of the day and the family’s dogs!
I would like to thank Anna Fawcett for hosting me at Winterbourne House and Garden and for making me feel so welcome there. All images used in this post are courtesy of Winterbourne House and Garden. If you would like to learn more about this historic house, you can follow the link below to their website: