A collection of photographs taken of Steam Packet crew during the 1920s and 1930s has been presented to the Steam Packet Company and Manx National Heritage.
The presentation was made by Victoria Wood, granddaughter of London-based ship enthusiast and amateur photographer William Edward ‘Ted’ Groom, who travelled to the Isle of Man many times during the period. Victoria discovered the images, along with the rest of Ted’s collection, when she began writing about her grandfather’s history. His images and artefacts had lain in an attic in Lewisham and were found in old tissue paper, surrounded by wartime bomb shrapnel, having survived the blitz.
Victoria was put in touch with Captain Jack Ronan, who worked for the Steam Packet for 40 years and was a captain for 20. By coincidence, Captain Ronan had been given copies of some of Ted’s collection and was delighted to discover Victoria had the original photographs.
Victoria said: ‘When I found the images I thought they were too important not to be in an archive. Captain Ronan has done a wonderful job researching the images and I’m so glad my grandfather’s pictures now form part of such a fascinating collection.’
Captain Ronan said: ‘Initially we just planned to contact the relatives of the crew in the pictures but after speaking to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, it was decided the collection would be archived and made available to the public.
‘These photographs were taken at a time when there were very few cameras around, so Ted’s photographs provide a rare and unique record of that period. I think the fact they survived more than three-quarters of a century is nothing short of a miracle.’
The collection also contains a number of images taken by Ted, which have been donated by other people, including memorable stills of crew on the Mona’s Queen before she left for Dunkirk in 1939, owned by Island resident Andrew Moore.
The collection will be available to view online at the Steam Packet Company’s website – www.steam-packet.com/TedGroom – and via screens outside the Ferry Travel Shop at the Sea Terminal in Douglas. Archivist Wendy Thirkettle from Manx National Heritage has provided expert help with the collection, a copy of which will be housed within Manx National Heritage’s extensive archives.
Steam Packet Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We are extremely grateful to both Victoria, for donating these images, and to Captain Ronan for all the hard work he has put into this display, which represents an important part of the company’s history.’
Steam Packet Chief Executive Mark Woodward (left) and Library and Archive Services Officer at Manx National Heritage, Paul Weatherall (right), receive the collection of images from Victoria Wood (centre left) and Captain Jack Ronan (centre right).