Edward Farish: Carlisle hoarder's treasure trove of photos

Edward Farish Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Edward Farish as a young man (left) in the 1930s and in later life (right)

When Edward Farish died last November after being hit by a car on his way to church he left a collection of almost one million photographs. The prolific amateur photographer had - over 80 years - amassed a massive collection. Now his family hope to set up a gallery of the hoarder's "gems" in his home town.

It is five-months since the 92-year-old passed away, but his large family are still mourning the loss of a man who was known in Carlisle for his white camera bag - so much so that he was called the "white pimpernel".

Mr Farish, also know as Allan, filled two garages full of his own photographs as well as images documenting the changing face of the city over the years.

Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Edward Farish (first left) worked at Nestle in Carlisle in the 1940s keeping the boilers running

The hoard includes thousands of postcards and slides - some dating back 140 years - as well as film paraphernalia such as movie projectors.

Some of it is believed to contain rare items which have not yet been unearthed. For instance, footage of a captured German gun being led through the streets of Carlisle during World War One, while crowds cheer on, has not seen the light of day for at least 20 years and is thought to be somewhere in the hoard.

The family is trying to find it and local historians are eager to preserve it for future generations.

Image copyright The Cumberland News
Image caption The family is trying to find the city's only moving footage of a German gun paraded through Carlisle during WW1
Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Mr Farish owned a large collection of cameras, including these "Box Brownies" - one of the original cameras invented by Kodak in 1900

Edwin Rutherford, curator of social history at Carlisle's Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, said: "This is an outstanding collection of photographic material relating to Carlisle's local history. That 1915 footage sounds superb.

"Carlisle is a special city and has a unique sense of place. History has shaped and defined the city - from its time as a medieval border fortress of the English West March - to the industrial powerhouse of the Victorian era and beyond."

Stephen White, local studies librarian at Carlisle Library, said the collection was "unique".

Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Carlisle gas works in the 1920s

"Mr Farish used to attend the Carlisle sale rooms regularly over many years. The long, lost film of a captured German gun being paraded in 1915 - a unique survival - is the earliest footage of the city."

Mr Farish worked as a boiler man at the city's Nestle food factory for many years.

His son Richard, 60, said his mother would regularly become exasperated at the amount of photographs and paraphernalia he had accumulated.

"She was forever on his case. He had to resort to buying things then leaving them in the car for two months so when he brought them in he could honestly say: 'It's nothing new Betty, I've had this for ages.'"

Image caption Hardly changed: Children playing in St Alban's Row in the 1920s and the same spot as it is today
Image caption Carlisle's English Street in 1929 and how it is now - many of its buildings have been demolished

"Dad took pictures of everything and anything - he loved architecture, the Queen - anything that was historic.

"He had two massive sheds for his collection, then it crept into the house, the attic, then every room."

Fortunately for the children, Mr Farish did not subject them to endless slide shows of his collection.

"He would run picture shows for other people if they were interested and talk for hours," his son said.

"A fitting tribute to dad would be to display his collection. My dad was cheeky, mischievous and could cause an argument in an empty room. He was a real joker, but never did anyone any harm."

Mr Farish's main fascination was with the era before moving pictures and he collected thousands of slides and projectors.

During the Victorian era, viewing slides with the help of "magic lanterns" was a popular form of entertainment. These were often painstakingly hand-painted and one of Mr Farish's favourite series was one depicting the tale of Red Riding Hood.

Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Before moving pictures the Victorians enjoyed slide shows of stories such as Red Riding Hood

His eldest son Paul Farish, 63, remembers his father being offered a blank cheque for his collection.

He said: "It was a man from Germany - maybe 30 years ago - who came up to him with a blank cheque and told my dad to write his price.

"Unfortunately my dad declined. We get to keep his stuff though. I've one of his 8mm wind-up cameras. Dad said I wouldn't be able to work it, but I proved him wrong."

Image copyright Farish family
Image caption The massive collection of photographs and paraphernalia fills two garages

Mr Farish was in his 50s when his daughter Judith, now 49, was in her early teens. She used to accompany him to auction rooms most Monday evenings.

She said: "If there were dolls houses we'd take pictures. Sometimes there was nothing interesting on telly and I'd go along with him to stay up late."

But she has no idea how much her father spent on his collection over the years.

She said: "He was from an era when mums and dads didn't tell you things like that. He wasn't motivated by money but he just had to have certain photos."

Mr Farish was obsessed with taking pictures - especially of royal visits to Carlisle. The family believes he took pictures of the Queen's visit in the 1950s and a visit by the Princess of Wales in 1983, but unfortunately they have been unable to find them.

Somewhere in the collection there are also thought to be about 30 rolls of undeveloped film from 2005, taken during the Carlisle floods.

"When it started my children went to granddad's and asked for cameras because they knew he always had them," his daughter said. "They took loads of pictures and I need to find them - they are a part of history."

Image copyright Edward Farish
Image caption The collection includes thousands of slides
Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Taken in 1926 - barrels of beer arrive at the Spirit Vault pub
Image copyright Farish family
Image caption Taken in 1964 - the Italian Gardens
Image copyright Farish family
Image caption The collection includes thousands of street life photographs taken throughout Carlisle over the last eight decades

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