Memories of Charles Matthews, collector of local history

14 June 2021

Remember Loughborough Facebook Group member Dusty Miller knew Charles Matthews, who was a neighbour and friend of his father’s. Here, Dusty shares his memories of Charles and his passion for saving old photographs.

Charles was a close neighbour of ours, he lived on New Ashby Road, we lived behind him on Blackbrook Road.  My father – Peter Miller – was also into photography, but his main expertise was in processing film and printing from negatives. Almost all of the prints in Charles’s collection were processed by my father.

Charles spent many hours walking around Loughborough knocking on doors asking for old photographs or negatives.  Many were the old glass negatives which normal processors wouldn’t print.  Some were cracked and faded but father managed to get images from them.  Charles became quite friendly with Mrs De Lisle* so sourced several negatives from her.  

One example of Charles is, there is a photograph taken on Nottingham Road of a Victorian lady with a baby in a pram. Shortly after Father had printed this for Charles a film arrived for developing and printing. Father did the honours and amongst the photographs was a picture of a modern young mother standing with a baby in a pram on the same spot as the Victorian lady.  Charles went to look at the area of the original picture and asked a passing mother if he could take her photograph with the pram. After showing her the original she was only too happy to help.

Charles worked as a clerk for the railway based in a building on the line side between Loughborough Station and Meadow Lane. He later moved from New Ashby Road to Shepshed station house; we visited several times before their next move to Market Harborough.

My mother told me that Charles bought a large box of glass negatives when Hastings House closed for next to nothing.  This must have been in the 60’s before it became a community hospital.  No one wanted the negatives; had Charles not bought them they would have been dumped in a skip. It is so easy for important things like these to end up in landfill when their true historic value is missed.

It is great to finally see Charles contribution to the history of Loughborough archive recognised.  Most of the books of photographs of old Loughborough came from his collection.

Dusty Miller,
12 June 2021

The original posts from Dusty can be found on the Remember Loughborough Facebook page here.

*of Garendon Hall