Battle of the Somme centenary

Hundreds of people gathered on the green opposite St Helier Hospital on Friday 1 July to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

The lights were dimmed outside the hospital as antique portraits of hundreds of local World War One soldiers were projected across the front of the building.

Chief Executive, Daniel Elkeles, said: “This was a very touching tribute to the local men, women and families who sacrificed so much during the First World War. I was delighted that so many people joined us to pay tribute.

“I would like to thank the organisers, Sutton Voice and Samia Tossio from SamiArts for bringing these antique portraits to life.” 

The portraits, which were captured on glass plate negatives, form a part of almost-forgotten local history, as they were taken by prominent photographer David Knights-Whittome (who at one point held a Royal Warrant) at his studios on Sutton High Street and Epsom between 1904 and 1918.  

When David gave up the business of photography and moved away from the area in 1918, the glass plates were left undiscovered for years. They are now owned by the London Borough of Sutton whose Libraries & Heritage team received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to digitise the glass plate negatives.

You can also see images from the collection at The Past on Glass; A Local Photographers Legacy 1904-1918 exhibition from 22 July - 28 August in the Europa Gallery, Sutton Central Library.

Images by Jamen Percy.

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