From Darkness into Light – the Ronald Everson slides collection

We present the second blog by the Project Officer, Dr. Andrew Cusworth.

We would like to thank Mr. Everson’s family for the permission to make the collection available for everyone to enjoy on-line.


The largest of the Archive’s slide collections is that of Ronald Everson, ref. ADX/1489. It extends across thirteen boxes, each containing two hundred slides. Although only the slides most relevant to the Archive’s focus on Ceredigion have been digitized and uploaded, this number still measures some hundreds of images.

It seems that Everson took up photography as a hobby around 1969, partly in order to record his travels and his family. He took the hobby quite seriously, and was soon giving slideshows to local societies and clubs such as the Anglo-Welsh Society of Llanon; the narrative notes and slide orders for at least some of these talks survive in the collection.

In a slideshow billed as ‘WALES Land of Mountains, Castles, Lakes, and Seas’, and given on the 22nd of October 1974, Everson had this to say about his pastime: ‘It seemed a shame not to have pictures of my grand daughter and all these beautiful places so I bought myself a cheap camera. My only experience of photography had been to use a box camera as a boy.’

In a passage reminiscent of the amateur photographer’s mantra that ‘the best camera is the one you have with you,’ Everson reveals himself to have been beset by the photography bug: ‘I have not visited these places with the deliberate intention of taking photographs. I have had my camera with me just in case! I have learnt that it is fatal to go anywhere without a camera. You are certain to miss the picture of a lifetime.’

‘WALES Land of Mountains, Castles, Lakes, and Seas’ was arranged as an imaginary journey, with Everson as the tour guide – ‘Let us start in Aberystwyth and as we have many miles to travel we must get up early to see the sun rise and very early morning sunshine.’

ADX.1489.3.03.132

ADX/1489/3/3/132 Dawn over Danycoed

‘There is only one place from which to view the town of Aberystwyth – Constitution Hill’

ADX.1489.3.2.041

ADX/1489/3/2/41 Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill

 

And so the slideshow continues through nearly two hundred slides, albeit that the narrative covers only a few pages. It seems that Everson gave quite a number of slideshows, though none are so thoroughly recorded as this one; rather, their remains consist of showing orders and titles of images. These other shows included ‘East Anglia, a tour along the Coast,’ ‘The English Scene,’ ‘Norway, Land of Fjords, and ’Views to please the eye, some near, some far.’ As these titles might indicate, the collection includes a wide range of images documenting landscapes, buildings, and even a Great Knaresborough Bed Race.

Returning to Ceredigion, we can be grateful that Everson’s hobby enabled him to capture some of the County’s life and scenes through his pictures, and that his family were pleased for the Archive to continue sharing them with a new audience online. Having spent quite a bit of time scanning the collection, here, in no particular order, are some of the images that I found most enjoyable.

ADX.1489.3.2.040

ADX/1489/3/2/40, Devil’s Bridge train. The damage to the right hand of the frame, caused by the image being taken at the very end of a roll of film, lends the picture atmosphere and motion

ADX.1489.3.2.087

ADX/1489/3/2/87, Great Hall, UCW Aberystwyth. The Great Hall looking very new indeed.

ADX.1489.3.03.015

ADX/1489/3/3/15, Cycle Race Start, Aberystwyth. The race begins, and the cyclists set off, but the timing of the image creates a disconcertingly quiet and still scene.

ADX.1489.3.1.188

ADX/1489/3/1/188, Gorse in bloom, Aberdyfi. An image taken at the road-side, and capturing a vehicle (perhaps the photographer’s?) and a sign warning of brush fires.

ADX.1489.3.03.161

ADX/1489/3/3/161, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Aberystwyth. The band marches past the Town Hall, where the Archive is now based.

ADX.1489.3.04.179

ADX/1489/3/4/179, Devil’s Bridge. Someone waits to cross the road with children outside the Hafod Arms Hotel.

ADX.1489.3.05.103

ADX/1489/3/5/103, Lead mine notice, reading ‘Danger:- Mine Shaft. Any person found throwing stones etc., loosening masonry, or in any other way causing damage to the shaft and hazard to the persons working below will be prosecuted. N.C.M.C.’

ADX.1489.3.05.126

ADX/1489/3/5/126, Bethel Chapel, Upper Rheidol. In this image, Everson seems to be using a wide angle lens or converter, and creates a drastic dramatic effect that is quite unusual within his collection.

ADX.1489.3.06.053

ADX/1489/3/6/53, Farm sale near Lampeter. This lovely image captures a major event in the farming community and the excitement it has generated.

[Andrew Cusworth]

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