EXPECT the unexpected. We thought – and we hoped – that Crediton Museum’s pop-up display of old local photographs during the Christmas Lights Switch-On would draw in some visitors who could identify old friends and family members from years gone by. We weren’t disappointed. 

Our photograph of the staff at Hayward’s Boys School in 1955 got lots of attention, and names for most of the teachers.

Viewing pictures at the Crediton Museum Exhibition on November 25.
Viewing pictures at the Crediton Museum Exhibition on November 25. (Crediton Museum)

What we hadn’t expected was the amount of extra information. We were told that one of those teachers had been a Prisoner of War during World War II, and that despite his experiences he went on to be a well-respected rugby coach who encouraged lots of his pupils to take up the game. 

Another visitor remembered the man on the bacon counter in a local store who had a permanently runny nose – and how lots of shoppers wouldn’t buy bacon when he was on duty, for fear of (ahem) contamination.

Overhearing that conversation, someone else volunteered the story of “the man with the golden finger” who worked in a different local shop. Why “golden finger”? The shop sold loose goods by weight, and he was widely suspected of putting his finger on the scales when weighing up…

And who knew that one of the girls who attended Crediton Preparatory School went on to marry Poet Laureate Ted Hughes? 

So many fascinating details of local life within living memory, all from a small selection of photographs.

We’re intending to make more of our photographs available for people to enjoy – and so that we can put names to faces and dates to events.

We also hope to collect more stories of local life and save them for posterity, bringing history back to life and life back to history.

Tony Gale

Crediton Museum