One of many largest digital camera collections on the planet is hidden away in a village corridor in a Fife coastal city – however hardly anyone is aware of it’s there.
At the least 3,000 cameras, together with some relationship again nicely over a century, belonged to the late Neville “Jim” Matthew.
He retired to the picturesque East Neuk village of St Monans after a profession that took him around the globe.
He took over the previous Salvation Military corridor to retailer his treasured assortment. Contained in the corridor, row after row of cameras, equipment and memorabilia fill the cabinets.
They embrace stereoscopic and 3D cameras in addition to East European fashions, together with many who have been uncommon within the West.
On the coronary heart of the gathering is an array of Kodak Brownie cameras – that includes virtually each mannequin ever produced.
The Brownie was the primary reasonably priced digital camera and might be purchased for only one greenback when it was first offered in 1900.
Jim had wished his assortment to be an open attraction, however he was getting older and in in poor health well being, and the duty posed too large a problem.
As an alternative, he was restricted to opening annually for the village pageant and for infrequent personal viewings.
“He actually loved speaking to individuals about it once they got here into the corridor,” says his widow Dorothy.
“I needed to come down and rescue them typically as a result of he didn’t know when to cease.
“He was an excellent speaker. He did not have a small discuss but when it was one thing he was concerned with he may discuss for a very long time.”
Jim, who died aged 81 on the finish of 2017, had begun the gathering 24 years earlier on a visit to Vancouver in Canada to see his daughter.
They have been wandering round vintage retailers and his spouse Dorothy purchased him an previous digital camera as a gift.
Quickly after, as Jim recovered from coronary heart surgical procedure, they travelled down the west coast of the US to Oregon the place there have been a variety of vintage retailers.
“He began to potter round and discover fairly a couple of cameras that he preferred,” Dorothy says.
“It expanded from there. When he acquired his thoughts into one thing he goes all out.
“He will not cease. He by no means actually stated why. It was simply that he began and continued.”
Dorothy says Jim was gathering “at one of the best time” as a result of individuals have been eliminating their previous cameras in favour of recent digital fashions.
“At any time when he went someplace he would all the time come again with a case load of cameras,” she says.
He travelled loads for work and pleasure and he would all the time get hold of flea markets or locations promoting second-hand objects.
Poland proved a really fruitful vacation spot as they have been eliminating a variety of Russian cameras from the Soviet period.
“He would attempt to discover cameras from each nation when he went on vacation,” Dorothy says.
He would additionally ask mates if that they had time to discover a digital camera for him, and so they fairly often did.
Jim was born in Bolton in Larger Manchester and went to sea as an engineer cadet.
Throughout his time at sea, his mother and father moved to Glasgow, the place he met Dorothy – and altered his title from Neville, which was not one which went down nicely in Scotland.
The couple have been quickly married and had three kids.
Jim’s work as a marine engineer took him all around the globe.
The household lived for seven years in Hong Kong, two years in Greece, 5 years in Holland and 12 years in Canada.
Dorothy says Jim “lived for journey” and there have been only a few locations he had not visited.
He went on many journeys on his personal as a result of he was solely concerned with being behind the digital camera, his spouse says.
“Me being there was a waste of cash.
“He took good pictures so I believe he loved the outcomes. He wished to make it extra of an image reasonably than only a photograph. He was fully absorbed with it.”
As Jim’s assortment grew, the couple lived in Holland and he saved his cameras at his workplace.
In preparation for retirement, they purchased a home in St Monans to be close to Dorothy’s mom.
It was not sufficiently big to retailer the digital camera assortment – so Jim purchased the native Salvation Military Corridor.
Nearly three years after his dying Dorothy is working with a charitable trust to switch possession of the constructing and the gathering and switch it right into a museum.
Dorothy, who now lives in Canada, stated she was “delighted” on the prospect.
“I had no concept that would occur and I used to be worrying about what we’d do,” she says.
“I did not need them to be thrown out.”
All pictures by Dave Smith.