Photo treasure trove left at Warkworth Museum

Museum volunteer Alan Britton with what looks like one of the oldest photos in the collection.

Staff and volunteers at Warkworth District Museum took on a detective role last month in their efforts to track down the owners of a huge collection of family photographs.

story started at Warkworth Wellsford Hospice where a quantity of furniture was left, possibly from a deceased estate.

The photos were later discovered when the furniture was being sorted and cleaned.

As there were no clues as to who the furniture had belonged to and no one returned to claim the photographs, Hospice passed them on to the museum.

Museum manager Victoria Joule and volunteer Alan Britton turned to social media in an effort to find a family connection and put a post on the genealogy site Rootschat.

“It has certainly generated some interest and some leads,” Victoria says. “Someone recognised the more recent photographs, which had gone missing when they moved house.

“But the older black and white photographs remain a mystery and appear to have no connection with modern photos.

“The only name we have to work with is ‘Mrs Beale’, which was on one of the photos.”

There are hundreds of photographs altogether and Alan estimates that the oldest date from the late 1800s. Many are loose, some are in albums, two portraits are reproduced on porcelain and there is also a box of negatives.

A lot have English themes and were shot around World War I and II, including some taken at a rehabilitation hospital.

“If these were my family photographs, I would be devastated if they were lost,” Victoria says. “We will do everything we can to reunite them with their rightful owners, but I’m not sure what will happen to them long-term if they aren’t claimed. We have limited space at the museum and priority has to go to items with a local connection.”

Some of the collection can be viewed on the Warkworth Museum Facebook page at or at


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