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October 2018: A souvenir to remember

Atwells Album 1892 girl in colour

Souvenirs can often help us to remember people, places and events as they trigger our memories. In 1893 a souvenir album was compiled and presented to Mrs Attwells as a commemorative souvenir of a Children's Carnival and Fancy Dress Ball that she and her late husband, Frank Attwells, Mayor of Reading had held in 1892. Here we can see the presentation details from inside the album (ref. D/EX1792/1):

Atwells album 1892 presentation note

The event itself took place on the evening of 6th January 1892 at Reading Town Hall and seemed to have been a big 'do' with 240 children taking part. It incorporated dancing, puppet shows, a conjurer/ventriloquist, music, refreshments as well as a procession of everyone in their costumes. Parents and other townspeople were permitted to watch from a balcony.

The album contains some beautiful pictures of the children who attended as they later posed for the photographs in their fancy dress outfits. Their names and costumes are given below each image and they are mostly black and white as we can see from this lovely image of Mabel Thompson as  'an Italian maiden':

Atwells album 1892 girl bw

Some of the photographs have been subsequently painted over as we can see here in the image of Nesta Gibbs as 'one little maid from school (Mikado)'. It almost brings the image to life and provides some idea as to what the original colour of the costume may have been.

Atwells Album 1892 girl in colour

Presumably it was the perfect souvenir for Mrs Attwells perhaps sparking a fond memory of her late husband and his generosity to the children of the town. It is certainly a beautiful album of images showing a snapshot in time of a part of Reading's history.


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