Race Against Time

Vinegar Syndrome, or to name it correctly, acetate film base degradation, is both fatal and contagious! Janet Tall, Head of Archives for the South West Heritage Trust explained this to the Friends of the Museum of Somerset in her recent talk, ‘A Race Against Time: The Story of the Kenyon Photographic Archive’.

S.W. Kenyon worked initially as a private photographer in Wellington, later moving on to take photographs of industrial installations for national companies, and NAAFI installations during the Second World War. He left a collection of approximately 5,000 glass negatives and 58,000 acetate negatives. The acetate negatives were suffering from vinegar syndrome which means they were degrading and could not be stored at the Heritage Centre for fear they spread the syndrome to other items. They have now been digitised in order to save the images but the originals have been destroyed as they had been so badly affected by the syndrome. The glass plates have been repackaged by a volunteer team and will also be digitised in due course. The collection is nationally important as it records both industrial and cultural change over a period of forty years.

The next on-line meeting of the Friends of the Museum of Somerset will be at 7.30 pm on April 20th when Philip Browne will be telling The Friends about ‘The Unfortunate Captain Pierce & the Wreck of the Halsewell, East Indiaman’. Guests will be welcome; for details, please email contact@fotmos.org.uk.