A unique collection of slides depicting the construction of the iconic Beachy Head Lighthouse will be returning to Sussex after historians made a successful bid at auction.
The Keep, the home of East Sussex Record Office in Brighton, paid £4,400 for the collection when they went under the hammer at an auction house in Penzance on Thursday.
The slides – showing the construction of the iconic landmark during the years of 1900-1902 – had a guide price of between £3,000 and £5,000 with bidding starting at £1,500.
County archivist Christopher Whittick was the successful bidder and said he was delighted to have acquired them on behalf of the East Sussex centre.
“It was very exciting bidding on the slides,” said Mr Whittick, who was successful despite competition from another bidder.
“We were notified by various parties they were coming up for auction and the money to buy them came from a government grand funded by the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Friends of the National Libraries, Trinity House, and the Friends of The Keep Archives, plus the generosity of a number of individual donors from the Eastbourne area.”
Shirley Moth from the Save the Stripes campaign group, which together with the Eastbourne Herald and Eastbourne Rotary AM raised £30,000 to get the world famous red and white hoops repainted, said she was pleased the lantern slides would return to Sussex.
Mr Whittick said, “This large collection of lantern slides which minutely records the construction of the lighthouse is an important acquisition, and we are delighted we will be able to conserve them for future generations and to share them with a wider public.
“When the complete collection of slides arrives at The Keep, they will be cleaned by hand, using warm, distilled water, by a dedicated group of volunteers. They will then be dried with cotton buds, and the remaining 40 will digitised, so a complete set of scanned copies will be available to view. It has been wonderful to see the level of local interest in this material, and we’d like to reiterate our thanks to those who contributed or helped publicise our bid.”