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Vestry House Museum: Victorian photographs reveal Waltham Forest’s past

Vestry House Museum’s new exhibition will reveal one of its most significant collections: the work of Victorian photographer and Leytonstone resident Alfred Wire.

Wire started taking photographs in the early 1860s, long before photography became an accessible hobby. He captured local life – children’s games in the school yard, the streetlife of Leytonstone, the fair at Wanstead flats, Epping Forest, Southend-on-Sea and much more.

The exhibition at the Council-run museum in Walthamstow Village will include many previously unseen photographs, shedding new light on the local area in the years leading up to the First World War.

Councillor Chris Robbins said: “Vestry House Museum’s Alfred Wire collection is fascinating to those with an interest in local history and in the development of photography as an art form. I’m delighted that so many more people will now get to see these striking images of our borough.”

The Alfred Wire collection is part of Vestry House Museum’s vast photographic archive, which contains 80,000 historic photographs of the local area. Many of these can now be viewed online at, where users can also order high quality prints.

Local Life through a Lens is kindly supported by Images in Frames.

Exhibition events:

Half-Term Activities 

Wednesday 17 February and Friday 19 February, 2pm – 4pm

Explore our new photography exhibition and create your own Victorian street scene using collage. Suitable for 12 years and under. Free, drop-in.

Alfred Wire Lantern Slide Show

Saturday 27 February, 3pm – 4pm

Join curator Gary Heales to view lantern slides of the local area, many previously unseen! Free, no need to book.

Family Activity: Family Photo Shoot

Sunday 13 March, 1.30pm – 4pm

Inspired by our current photographic exhibition, come and pose your family in our traditional Victorian Photo Studio. Show off your hobbies and interests and get a sepia print for your family album. Free, drop in.

Notes to editors

Local Life through a Lens: Victorian and Edwardian photographs by Alfred Wire (1839-1914)

13 February – 15 May 2016

Vestry House Museum

Vestry Road Walthamstow

London E17 9NH

Monday – Wednesday, 10am – 5pm. Free entry.

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason:

020 8496 4726

07740 046143

The photo archive is open to everyone by appointment. To book a visit please email or call 020 8496 4391.

About Vestry House Museum

Owned and managed by Waltham Forest Council, Vestry House Museum is the local history museum for Waltham Forest and home of Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library. Set in an 18th century former workhouse in the heart of historic Walthamstow Village, the Museum tells the story of the borough through a series of permanent displays and special exhibitions. A favourite exhibit is Britain’s first petrol driven car, built by Frederick Bremer in 1892.

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at or on 020 8496 4521 / 4802.

For out of hours please email or call 07966 915 157.