Squid’s in as Scarborough Museums Trust’s magic lantern slides prove popular online

Washed up: a giant squad on Scarborough’s North Bay beach on January 14 1933, pictured in a magic lantern slide. Picture: Scarborough Museums Trust

HISTORIC magic lantern slides from the Scarborough Collections are an online hit in these dark days. 

As part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Coronavirus shutdown,  collections manager Jim Middleton is posting regular images from the stock of slides and glass-plate negatives on Twitter, using the hashtag #lockdownlanternslides.

The North Bay Pier, after the storm damage in 1905

The response has been “remarkable”, he says: “We’re getting comments and queries from other museums, historians and the public nationwide. This includes an interaction the other day with the Natural History Museum in London, who contacted us during a series of posts themed around cephalopods, the family of marine animals that includes octopus and squid.”

Middleton had posted an image of a 5.3m-long giant squid that had been washed up on the North Bay beach on January 14 1933, pictured surrounded by curious Scarborough locals.

Pier-less: The North Bay Pier destroyed by the 1905 storm

“We’d always known that they had the beak of the squid, but they got in touch to say they had the whole animal preserved in their archive,” says Middleton. “We’ll be hoping to get a better look at it when we can.”

Among other themes being explored are historic local buildings, some of them no longer in existence, such as the North Bay pleasure pier, destroyed in a storm in 1905, and vintage seaside scenes of children rock pooling and bathing-beauty contests.

The North Bay Pier, pictured from the other side, in one of the magic lantern slides

Magic lanterns were early image projectors that applied a light source to magnify and project images on glass and they were used for both education and entertainment, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Scarborough Collections – the name given to all the museum objects owned by the Borough of Scarborough – contains more than 7,000 slides and glass plates, in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.

Storm damage: the collapsed North Bay Pier in Scarborough in 1905

The images posted daily by Middleton can be seen by following @SMT_Collections on Twitter. To view existing posts, search #lockdownlanternslides.

The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend, all run by Scarborugh Museums Trust, are closed until further notice.