Montage of example photographs  taken by Reece Winstone


William Friese-Greene 1855 - 1921
Reece Winstone at the William Friese-Green Centenary Celebrations 1955

Wednesday, 5 th May, is the centenary of the death of William Friese-Greene. The Archive is pleased to remember this Bristol-born inventor in the field of cinematography again, Reece having first done so in organising the Bristol end of the centenary celebrations of F-G’s birth in 1955 for the Friese-Greene family.

Those fortunate enough to have a copy of Bristol As It Was 1953-56, and better still to have the 2nd edition with its added photographs (several thousand letterpress copies sold, now out of print), will know the story as told by Reece. In his 1969 Introduction to the first edition Reece, writing only some 15 years after the centenary, opens with the question of ‘what will be of interest to future Bristolians’, citing with his usual prescience, in this the ‘centenary year of 2021’. By the end of 2021 we hope to review here just where F-G stands today. In the meantime, for those not up to speed with current F-G material, here are some pointers.

Copies of the four BBC radio broadcasts put out in 1955 have yet to be found. These included the family’s view of F-G’s achievements and the sound recording of the speeches made at the 1955 unveiling of the birthplace plaque on 12 College Street. The silent film made by Ken Pople of Bristol Amateur Cine Society can be watched below.

We are very grateful to the Society, now Bristol Film & Video Society, for permission to provide this link to their copy. The Archive’s copies of the BBC broadcasts are in need of conservation before they can be played. Suffice it to say, after Eastman- Kodak’s version of cinematographic history was published in 1955, it was thought by those groups funding the plaque unwise to describe F-G other than The Pioneer of Cinematography. Reece’s speech however described F-G as the Inventor, and said the birthplace should be preserved as a museum of cinematography, rather than be demolished for a car park.

William Friese-Greene Plaque from Bristol Film and Video Society on Vimeo.

In 1955 The Lord Mayor of Bristol unveiled a memorial plaque on the birthplace of William Friese-Greene, the pioneer of cinematography.

Reece Winstones photograph of 12 College Street taken on 12 July 1955

Enjoy the film and this recent montage by the Archive of Reece’s photograph of 12 College Street taken on 12 July 1955, with Bristol Savages red feather-member Herbert Truman. It is set on F-G’s display easel given to him and his first wife Hélène, as a wedding present by his new father-in-law, Baron Friese.

New Volume 45
Personal Accounts of the Bristol Blitz

Vol 45, Personal Accounts of the Blitz book cover

These first-hand accounts in the Reece Winstone Archive of the 1940 and 1941 blitz have been brought together on the 80th anniversary of the November 1940 air-raid on Bristol and published as volume 45 of the Bristol As It Was series. They describe events at St Peter’s Church, the Colston Hall, the Suspension Bridge, Redcliff, and elsewhere; their individual character reflects their authors (including Reece's own diary account) and they are vivid, compelling and evocative.

Occasionally harrowing to read, the raids are set in the historical context of the German air offensive as it is now understood and the personal accounts are illustrated with 20 contemporary photographs from the Archive. For the first time photographs are closely matched to the timing of events.

Softback, 234 x 156 mm wide, 42 pages, with further 12 pages of plates, aerial map in coloured bookmark. Limited press-run. So please order by email at [email protected] for £6.00 plus £1.80 postage, or send cheque with order by post to our address at the foot of this page. Signed copies on request.

Volume 44 - Bristol & Somerset Vanishing Lives

Bristol and Somerset 
																	Vanishing Lives book cover

Readers who saw our exhibition Rambles... from the Darkroom will know what to expect of a Reece Winstone exhibition. At the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol we showed 150 photographs of Reece’s own photo-journalism from 1930 to the 1960s, culled from his coverage of life in Bristol and Somerset and contrasting the two. The photography is as topical and engaging as ever.

It was a wide-ranging selection, and Volume 44 is its full catalogue with articles by various contributors.

Readers may purchase Bristol & Somerset: Vanishing Lives from us direct at £14.95 post-paid. Cheques payable to Reece Winstone Archive please.

The playwright, Alan Bennett, says:

‘It's full of gems.... they are so often of ordinary lives & that makes them so much more vivid.‘

From the visitor’s book:

‘So important for Bristol & district they deserve a permanent display of their own’; ‘This display shows what culturally has been lost in the dubious race for progress.’

Reece Winstone FRPS, 1909-1991, was a freelance photographer all his life and built up his own photo-library of Beautiful Britain. He was a Bristolian, who recorded the city from 1930 to 1975. Post-war he began collecting historic photographs of the city, and was the first person to publish serial books of historic photographs, in 1957. This corpus is now all termed the Reece Winstone Archive. 2009 was the centenary of Reece's birth.

1. The Photo Archive

The Archive consists of Reece’s 40,000 shots of Britain’s landscape, buildings and genre. There are forays into the Low Countries 1945/6. The work of some of Reece’s contemporaries is also held. The Archive also covers all parts of the city of Bristol and environs from 1840 and is on-going. It is the principal private photographic archive of Bristol and we are keen to accept photographs or negatives for posterity and possible future publication. Of the 7,000-odd photographs in this section the majority are published – see 2.0 Bristol books.
At present there are no personal search facilities. The Archive also contains personal papers and various items relating to Bristol, and to photography and photographers. The Archive is maintained by Reece’s son John.


1.1 Enquiries for Photographs & Ordering

Enquiries are welcome, and may be made in writing or by email, quoting vol/plate no. or neg. number if possible.
When a search has to be made for an unindexed item a search charge of £10 is payable.

Many shots of Britain are held by the National Monuments Record at Swindon and searchers there will need to contact ourselves for permission to reproduce, quoting the four- or five-digit negative number.

All Reece’s photography was painstakingly entered into accession books and the date and time the photograph was taken will be supplied.
There is a reproduction fee payable for publication or display of photographs from the Archive in whatever form.
Reproduction in reports for planning purposes, personal theses, family histories etc., is not excluded from this charge; credit to Reece Winstone Archive in your text is also required.

Personal Use

  1. Personal Users include:
    Users whose use is purely personal and those whose final format is not photocopied, used as emailed documents, put on websites, published or put on exhibition.

  2. Bona fide students at recognised higher educational institutions wishing to reproduce images from Reece Winstone books or from low resolution scans provided by the Archive and do not include reproduction on a private website, may be classed as personal users. Acknowledgement should always be made to Reece Winstone Archive copyright.

  3. Pupils at school up to school leaving age may scan and reproduce photographs appearing in Reece & John Winstone books without charge. Acknowledgement should be made as above.

  4. Current terms for private use are £30 for a high resolution scan to CD, or sent electronically if outside the UK. Please describe how the photograph will be used.

For commercial users please apply for commercial rates, with details of end use.

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