Denys and Margaret Gardiner, my grandparents, in August 1939

1939: England in Color

My grandparents, Denys and Margaret Gardiner were married in spring 1939. In August they took a honeymoon trip from London, through Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire and up as far north as Yorkshire. Less than a month later, Great Britain declared war on Germany and WW II began. Gasoline rationing was introduced, road signs were uprooted to avoid helping the enemy in the event of invasion, and road trips - along with many other things - were postponed for the duration.

With my grandparents in their Morris 8 convertible were their cat Edgar, and my grandfather's cousin Eldred. A little older, Eldred was a professional engraver and an amateur - albeit very accomplished amateur - photographer.  

Throughout their trip, Eldred took photographs. He was using AgfaColor - an early color emulsion developed in Germany, and an expensive rarity in pre-war England. Eldred died of tuberculosis in 1940 and the slides passed to my grandfather.

My mother can remember the honeymoon pictures being brought out and projected during special family occasions when she was a child, but 75 years after they were taken and with no sign of them for decades, we thought they were lost. Not so. My grandmother died in in early 2014 aged 100, and when we cleared her house a couple of months later we found the long-missing collection of almost 80 mounted transparencies in her attic. Restoring the slides and identifying the locations where they were taken is an ongoing project. 

All images copyright Barnaby Britton.

(re) published at... (video)

Eastern Daily Press (print) (in French)